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NEW YORK — Film buffs around the world were stunned Monday to learn the life-size “Big Bird” statue in a Manhattan cinema has been transformed into a “virtual reality” experience, as its makers say the experience has a profound impact on the way people view film.
“Big Birds” has been a fixture in cinemas across the world since the 1980s, but it wasn’t until this summer that the company behind the “virtual-reality” experience in “The Big Bird Experience” began showing it in more than 300 cinemas around the country, according to a statement released Monday by the company.
The announcement came on the heels of a New York City premiere of the film at the Lincoln Center, and was the latest in a series of events that have been taking place across the country to raise awareness about the plight of elephants in captivity and the plight they face in the wild.
The company says the experience allows people to be in “the heart of an incredible world, surrounded by people who care deeply about elephants and animals.”
It says it has been downloaded more than 150 million times, and has been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on YouTube.
“This is a moment of real hope, and a moment for people to stand together and say that we are not alone,” said John Lewis, the executive vice president of New York-based New World Films.
“It is an opportunity to show the world what we are made of.
It’s the most profound experience we can offer.”
“We have no idea how many people have had this experience, but we know that it’s been really profound,” Lewis said.
The experience has been created by a team of New World Film’s directors, producers and visual effects artists who have been collaborating for more than two years to produce the “Big-Bird Experience.”
“There’s no doubt that Big Bird is a living legend and we have to share the experience,” said director Brian Koppelman, who wrote and directed the film, which is being released by New World in theaters and online.
“People have watched it and loved it, but the experience of seeing it for the first time is what really makes it special.
I hope the movie will be a catalyst for people in other cities to step up and be a part of the movement to save elephants.”
“The video has been watched by millions,” said co-director Alex Breslin.
“They want to come out and have a real experience of being in the world of Big Bird.”
The experience includes a digital recreation of the iconic bird’s cage, where viewers will walk through its life, including its visits to people’s homes, and get a glimpse of what it is like to be an elephant.
The virtual experience includes “a virtual zoo environment where the animals can interact with other elephants,” the company says.
The immersive experience also includes live music from a variety of artists including the R&B group the Raging Graysons, who perform at the film’s New York premiere on Sunday night.
The video also includes interviews with a number of animal rights and animal advocacy groups, as well as people from across the globe who have come to the film premiere to support the plight.
The “Big Dog Experience” will be available to viewers starting Monday through Sunday at participating theaters.
The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Olivia Wilde, will open in theaters across the U.S. and Canada on May 27.