HBO Kicks Off Virtual Reality Extravaganza to Promote Lovecraft Country

The show will guide 100 guests through art installations, escape rooms and puzzles

Photo of Lovecraft Country Sanctum VR
Lovecraft Country Sanctum will translate the horror series to VR. HBO

HBO will host 100 influencers for a series of virtual reality events consisting of immersive theater, escape rooms, art installations, puzzles and a live concert to promote its new Jordan Peele-helmed horror show Lovecraft Country.

The activations—the first of which kicks off at 10 p.m. ET tonight—will also be viewable on YouTube Live and include interactive segments where viewers can participate at home. The influencers will join with Oculus Quest headsets and communicate through a social platform called VRChat. HBO partnered with VFX studio The Mill on the project.

While brands have been experimenting with new tech like augmented reality to virtually engage consumers since the Covid-19 pandemic first in-person activations impossible earlier this year, expensive equipment requirements and technical issues are still holding back widespread adoption of VR. HBO seems to have found a setup that circumvents those issues by having only a select group of invitees plugged into the VR system.

“Sanctum provides a way for fans to come together virtually and safely in a unique new place and experience incredible performances that further explore themes and ideas from the show,” Dana Flax, vice president of program marketing at HBO, said in a statement. “These virtual events also give us the special opportunity of spotlighting the work of Black artists in celebration of this very important series.”

Lovecraft Country: Sanctum, as the event series is titled, will also feature voiceovers from actors in the series, such as Jonathan Majors, Courtney B. Vance and Michael Kenneth Williams; Afrofuturist art exhibits by David Alabo, Devan Shimoyama and Adeyemi Adegbesan; a performance inspired by the words of James Baldwin; and a concert by a yet-to-be-named rap artist. The next two events in the series will take place Sept. 24 and Oct. 19 at 10 p.m. ET.

“We created Sanctum as a space to expand the possibilities of what the future of theatre, games, art installations, concerts, and live events can be,” said Rama Allen, executive creative director at The Mill and lead creative on the Sanctum experience. “It is an alternate universe, built for Social VR, that tests and exceeds the boundaries of what we believe possible.”

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.