SXSW 2024 is underway in Austin, and on the evidence of some early brand activations, showstopping, immersive experiences are set to be a defining theme for this year.

For the opening night of this year's festival, Netflix orchestrated a tech-powered spectacle to launch its new sci-fi blockbuster drama, 3 Body Problem, blending the latest in 3D screen technology with a dose of old-fashioned theatrics for an awe-inspiring stunt.

Building mystique and intrigue, blood-red clouds of steam and smoke could be seen billowing across a corner of Congress Avenue in Downtown. Above them, a huge vertical screen depicted a fiery ten minute countdown, all set to the sound of an ominous pounding soundtrack.

At the familiar sound of 'tudum', passersby who had gathered were treated to a trailer with exclusive 3D scenes from the show, including three blazing suns, a mysterious intergalactic avatar named Sophon, and a sinister roving eyeball.

Looming high into the sky, Sophon did not come in peace it seems. The avatar issued a warning to humanity that "we will teach you how to fear again," causing some panic among passing taxi drivers according to reports. Specific details of the technology in use are scant, but the results had crowds gaping at the hyperrealistic images seemingly floating 50 feet up in the sky.


Streaming giants are leading the way, allowing people to step inside stories, not just watch them on screen. Paramount+ and Prime Video are also hosting immersive attractions at SXSW to support upcoming shows, underlining the sustained power of spectacle and in-person brand experiences to enchant audiences.

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