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Hollywood Hologram Wars: Vicious Legal Feud Behind Virtual Mariah, Marilyn and Mick

June 3, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Eriq Gardner / The Hollywood Reporter

From Homer Simpson to Jimmy Kimmel to Disney's upcoming 'Star Wars' movie, Hollywood's new technology already is transmitting stars to multiple spots and reviving ones long gone. But now, a legal war between two entrepreneurs is holding back a potentially massive business as they squabble on social media ("Come at me, bro," says one).

Every day, a small Beverly Hills showroom plays host to a who's who of global celebrities. Michael Jackson and Ray Charles sing and dance. Jimmy Kimmel cracks jokes. WikiLeaks' Julian Assange might be holed up in London, but he's also here brooding alongside Edward Snowden. They're all hyper-realistic holograms, part of a showcase for a tantalizing technology that has the potential to dramat�ic�ally alter the entertainment business by reviving dead stars and allowing living ones to be in multiple places at any given moment.

"I had Al Pacino knocking on the door twice in one week to see it," says Alki David, the Greek billionaire who owns the showroom and, he says, the technology behind the holograms. "Every time a celebrity or someone from the industry comes, they're sold."

The potential for holograms in Hollywood is nearly limitless. "Live" shows of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra are in early development. Kimmel beamed in via hologram CMA Award winner Kacey Musgraves from Nashville for an inter�view in his Los Angeles studio, suggesting a future in which actors can promote their films everywhere at once. Universal is using the technology in a new Fast & Furious theme park attraction. A comedy club in upstate New York is planning hologram shows of stand-ups from various eras. "The potential is enormous," says Jonathan Faber, a licensing expert at the Luminary Group. "Can it exceed tens of millions? Oh yeah, for sure. Can it reach a billion? Maybe."

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