Could USH’s Roanoke Maze Be Next Gen HHN?

Universal Hollywood recently reached out to us to share some more details about the Roanoke house that is coming to the West coast and how it will be different from the anthology house of multi-seasons that we will get on the East coast.  Here’s the details:

Universal Studios Hollywood announces the return of FX’s critically-acclaimed, Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning television series “American Horror Story,” bringing Ryan Murphy’s demented “Roanoke” installment to life at this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” event, beginning Friday, September 15, 2017.

“American Horror Story: Roanoke” will unearth the twisted legacy of The Lost Colony of Roanoke, transporting guests to the haunted backwoods of North Carolina where they will experience the terror that has tormented the town for centuries. The all-new disturbing maze, reimagined in acute and disturbing details, will unmask a cast of deranged killers, from the cannibalistic Polk family who subsist by feeding upon innocent victims to The Butcher who thrives on human sacrifices. Trapped in a vicious circle of evil and murder, guests will find themselves in a life or death battle to outrun the nightmare of Roanoke before the vindictive spirts and demented killers soak the earth with the blood of their victims.

“The macabre mind of Ryan Murphy brings a treasure-trove of limitless possibilities to ‘Halloween Horror Nights,” said John Murdy, Creative Director at Universal Studios Hollywood and Executive Producer of “Halloween Horror Nights.” “Because of the multitude of terrifying layers that come to life within this latest installment of FX’s ‘America Horror Story,’ we are devoting our entire maze to uncovering every twisted detail to fully immerse our guest into the Roanoke storyline.”

Whilst the release of information to us gives out some more details surrounding the house, it is in fact the small print at the bottom that gives some interesting clues as to how this maze could be very different from any maze/house we’ve ever seen before.

The email describes that the house is being built in partnership with FoxNext.  Last year’s houses and indeed this year’s AHS house at Orlando are being worked on in partnership with FX – their production company.  However, on this release from Hollywood the mention of FX is fleeting and no mention of the overall 20th Century Fox at all.

So what is FoxNext?

The internet says:

FoxNext is a video game and theme park division announced in January 2017 by the Fox Entertainment Group. It operates under Twentieth Century Fox Film and the Fox Networks Group. FoxNext was created in response to the success of the mobile game The Simpsons: Tapped Out and the PC game Alien: Isolation in creating revenue from their existing properties. It will handle development and publishing of video games, including virtual reality and augmented reality titles, as well as the development of Fox Entertainment Group theme and amusement parks, including parks in Dubai and Malaysia. The division’s president is Salil Mehta, a former executive from NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company, who has been with Fox since 2013. On June 6, 2017, it acquired Aftershock Studios (formerly Kabam’s Los Angeles and San Francisco studios).

The information sent to us by USH also goes a little further:

FoxNext is driving immersive, next generation entertainment experiences in the areas of virtual and augmented reality, mobile, console and pc games and location-based entertainment across Twentieth Century Fox Film and Fox Network Group. The division consists of FoxNext Games, FoxNext Destinations and FoxNext VR Studio. Fox has a successful track record identifying exceptional games and publishing partners across the mobile and console/PC space, such as Family Guy: Another Freakin’ Mobile Game, Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards, The Simpsons Tapped Out, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, Ice Age Adventures, Sugar Smash: Book of Life and Alien: Isolation. FoxNext VR Studio will oversee VR experiences, such as the already announced ALIEN and PLANET OF THE APES productions, and work to commercialize Fox’s overarching VR strategy. FoxNext Destinations will oversee the company’s location-based entertainment business including the development of the 20th Century Fox World theme park in Malaysia.

So why is 20th Century Fox’s video game department actively working to build this house with Universal Hollywood and not just FX or Fox?  Here’s the two possible reasons:

The house may include special effects utilizing screens to maximize the effect of various scenes, it could also have some kind of projection mapping technology – which is highly rumored for The Shining houses on both coasts.  Whilst I’d stop at the suggestion that the house may have some kind of VR component, it could utilize various digital and physical tricks that are used in VR experiences, such as those last year in The Repository.

The other interesting reason could be that Fox in return for allowing their show at HHN asked USH to show them the secrets to successful haunted house/maze creation, a way of inducting this new fledgling company into the ways of the maze trickster; they have after all other projects that the company will be working on in the future that will need these skills.

As the information from Universal shows that FoxNext are actively working on VR experiences for the Alien and Planet of the Ape movies along with a whole theme park in Malaysia. Indeed, could this close partnership between Universal and Fox see these VR experiences come to a future HHN?  Any thing is now possible with the rapid proliferation of this exciting technology.

FoxNext president Salil Mehta recently spoke to the Hollywood Reporter:

“FoxNext was created to support our motion pictures and with the view that technology is creating an opportunity for us to really revolutionize the way stories will be told in the future. There’s enormous innovation occurring that allows real interactive storytelling, and we created divisions to focus on games, VR and location-based entertainment. We’re trying to define the best ways to create content for each. In location based entertainment, we are doing a lot already.  That will include developing experiences for the 36-acre Fox World Malaysia, which is slated to open in 18 months. Planned attractions include those related to franchises including Alien, as well as Night at the Museum, Ice Age and Planet of the Apes.”

The most interesting part of this is whole puzzle is how this new company FoxNext is actively working on projects right now that aren’t just based around their next theme park – so could this maze be one of these projects and what involvement do they have?  It is surely all fascinating stuff!!  So although it may not affect this maze it is very exciting that Universal is working with this VR provider!

If we hear anything more concrete we will surely pass it on here at HHNU.  In the meantime, lets sit back and watch this maze’s twisted trailer:

Would you like to do a VR house based on Roanoke, Alien or Planet of the Apes? 

Let us know in the comments!