Tech NewsHow to Watch Movies in Virtual Reality

DarylJanuary 9, 2022

With bots and console resellers robbing many people of the opportunity to directly purchase a PlayStation 5 or a new OLED Switch, virtual reality headsets were a popular holiday gift. The Meta (Oculus) Quest 2 in particular saw an increase in corresponding app downloads as the new year approached.

Whether you’ve finished slashing through Beat Saber’s Lady Gaga music pack or need a break from the Horizon Workroom, VR headset owners can relax and watch a movie. (That Supernatural workout can wait until tomorrow; you’ve earned it.)

Aside from a few exceptions, watching a movie with a VR headset does not immerse you in the action. When streaming in virtual reality, your avatar is frequently placed in a virtual room or cinema with a 2D viewing screen.

Streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video have native Quest apps that are simple to install. Video-on-demand rentals via YouTube or Bigscreen require a few more steps, but the process is simple. Other movies can be viewed in virtual reality browsers or downloaded to the headset.

Although it takes a few minutes to set up a Remote Desktop Client through Bigscreen, the effort is worthwhile for those who have video files saved on their computer and primarily use a headset at home. Our VR movie watching guide is primarily focused on the Quest 2, but some suggestions apply to the HTC Vive and Valve Index as well.


How to Stream Netflix Movies and Other Content

You only need to download the Netflix app to watch the streaming service’s movies in VR, from Don’t Look Up to Twilight. After downloading the app, current Netflix subscribers can sign in, and new subscribers can sign up. (For a bit of spooky, bloody fun, I recommend watching the Fear Street trilogy of films.)

Amazon Prime members can watch movies in virtual reality via the Prime Video app. To begin watching movies like Alien, The Big Sick, and Jennifer’s Body, simply download the app and log into your profile.

Are there any Showtime subscribers out there? The Showtime app allows you to watch Moonlight and other award-winning films with a virtual reality headset.


How to Rent Films

If you want to rent recent movies to watch in VR, the YouTube app has a large selection at a variety of price points. Free Guy costs $6 to rent, while Dune costs a whopping $25. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar ($6), No Time to Die ($6), and Spencer ($5) are some other YouTube rental highlights. When you rent a movie from YouTube, you have one month to start streaming it and 48 hours to finish it.

Bigscreen is another essential app for watching movies on your VR headset. It’s essentially a virtual movie theater in which you can enter different environments and watch movies alone or with others. Although the selection of rentals is not as extensive as on YouTube, popular films such as Arrival ($4), Top Gun ($5), and Titanic ($5) are available. Unlike in the physical world, if you’re watching a movie with friends in VR, you must all pay the fee.


Carry out the VR Browser Workaround

What about the streaming services that don’t have a native app? Although HBO Max, Hulu, and Paramount Plus do not have VR apps, headset owners can open the websites in a browser as a simple workaround. The Firefox Reality app is available on Oculus and performs better for videos than other VR browsers.

Open Firefox in VR and navigate to the website for the streaming service you want to watch. Log in with your member information and begin watching movies. This method is a little clumsy and less reliable than using a dedicated app to stream. If you encounter any problems, you can troubleshoot by switching between mobile and desktop mode in Firefox.


View Movies on Your Computer

The Bigscreen app is useful for much more than just renting movies. Any movie on your computer can be streamed in VR. By plugging the headset with the charging cable into a PC, you can load movies onto your Quest 2 for offline viewing. Put on the headset and give the connected device data access.

When you’re done, the Quest 2 should show up as a device in the This PC tab. Load any entertainment you want to watch into the Quest 2’s Movies folder. Restart Bigscreen on your headset, and then select Videoplayer and then Local Video Files in the Watch section to access the downloads.

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