Superstar Adele is at the forefront of a new craze sweeping pandemic-hit London: virtual reality nights out.
The singer has been seen enjoying regular nights out at VR haunts since lockdown rules on going out were relaxed. Other stars reported to be hooked on the trend include fellow singer Skepta and broadcaster Jonathan Ross.
The success of the virtual night out is underpinned by Otherworld, specialised in virtual reality venues, telling City A.M. today that it has secured close to £3m of venture capital to open new hubs in London Victoria and Birmingham.
The company also plans to open new venues in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow in the next 12 months and is understood to be looking for “franchise partners” in the US and Germany.
Its venues have proved so popular since lockdown that customers have to book their slots weeks in advance.
“We’ve seen overwhelming demand, despite the pandemic,” said Chris Adams, the company’s CEO and co-founder told City A.M.
“People are seeking ever-greater levels of immersion, but through social experiences they can enjoy with friends and family.”
Adams said the company plans to use some of the £2.9m it has secured from Edge Investments “to enrich our virtual reality experiences, which already integrate 360 degree heat, wind and rumble effects.”
Since opening its first site in Shoreditch, East London in 2019, 50,000 people have passed through its doors, the company said.
In contrast to the success of virtual reality event firms, cinema seems to be one of the pandemic’s biggest casualties. Cineworld revealed it slumped to a record £2.2bn loss in 2020 after closing its cinemas during the pandemic.
The troubled cinema chain swung to the mammoth loss from a pre-tax profit of £155.2m in 2019 after revenues plummeted by 80 per cent and admissions tumbled from $275m to $54.4m.
Shares plunged as much as 14 per cent at one stage as it also warned there were still “material uncertainties” over its ability to continue as a going concern, given the potential for further disruption to its sites and movie releases.