A Toronto company in the business of touring immersive indoor projection mapping shows has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy, a sign that perhaps there has to be more to these shows than just visuals at scale.
Lighthouse Immersive is best known for running temporary shows around North America that project the works of famous, long-dead artists like Van Gogh and Monet, at huge scale, on the walls of places like exhibition centers. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware, according to news reports, in an effort to protect assets and continue operating, using new financing.
Largely unknown as a medium and as a paid attraction until the late 2010s, there are now no end of examples of immersive spaces – both fixed and touring. The best known in North America are, arguably, Illuminarium in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Toronto, and Oasis Immersion in Montreal, which was started up by former Arsenal Media founder Denys Lavigne. Both companies are at permanent, purpose-built or renovated facilities.
The company has sold more than 7 million tickets, it says, so it’s not like no one wants to see these exhibits. But I think it’s an open question as to whether attendees return, or recommend it to friends as a must-go-see. The permanent facilities operate based on programs and develop their own shows based on original concepts and ideas, versus some of the touring shows that often aren’t much more than images of paintings or Disney characters upscaled to fill entire walls.
To be fair, companies like Immersive manipulate the artworks to animate them and add more visual interest.
I live in a secondary market, so we don’t see a lot of these things come through. But there was a Van Gogh show that booked an old agricultural fair exhibition centre on the outskirts of my city. I thought about it, and then concluded, “Why would I spend $XX to walk around an old warehouse space to see Sunflowers blown up to 15 feet?”
The touring shows are also confronted by a lot of costs to move these shows, equipment and techs around and, presumably, hire local people to staff them for the days or weeks they’re lit up in that city. The Linkedin page for Lighthouse suggests it has at least 276 staff, and probably more, as not everyone will be on that platform.