A theater in 90 rooms across 5 floors? Welcome to immersive entertainment

Audiences hungry for experience: Artistic director
Immersive entertainment combines genres: Artistic director

More and more people are getting off their theatre seats and couches and immersing themselves into entertainment -- and its proving to be a lucrative opportunity, according to two industry entrepreneurs.

Felix Barrett, founder and artistic director of immersive entertainment company Punchdrunk, compared his shows to stepping into a film.

"We take over big, empty spaces and rather than put the action on a stage we scatter it across the building itself," he explained on CNBC's Street Signs.

Artist's impression of what the live action Crystal Maze will look like
The Crystal Maze

"Sometimes, it's a hundred plus rooms with fully cinematic level of design and the audience then are left to their own devices to explore the space."

These live action experiences have proven to be successful. Punchdrunk has created several shows since forming in 2000 in the U.K. and has an on-going show in New York. It is about to open another show in Shanghai later this year, which will feature a cast of 30 actors performing across five floors and 90 different rooms.

"There is a real hunger for this sort of work out there (in emerging markets) and the audience hasn't seen it before, so we want to appeal to as wide a cross-section as possible, so we can share the work."

Similarly, Tom Lionetti-Maguire, artistic director of Little Lion Entertainment, has found success by creating a live action version of a popular British television game show called "The Crystal Maze." It raised almost a £1 million ($1.3 million) through crowd funding to finance the show and has now sold out of tickets until March 2017.

"[These shows] straddle quite a few genres: it's a theater show; it's a live theme park; it's sport; it's live entertainment," Lionetti-Maguire told CNBC's Street Signs.

"I think that makes it really interesting because it brings new audiences and new people to it, not just people who would go to traditional theater."

These immersive experiences form part of the wider events industry, which is going through a period of growth. In the U.K., the industry was worth £42.3 billion ($54.9 billion) in 2015, growing 8 percent over two years, according to the sector representatives the Business Visits and Events Partnership.

The interactive nature and high production values of these shows also allows them to charge a high price. A standard ticket to Punchdrunk's show "Sleep No More" in New York costs around $130, while the Crystal Maze charges between £50 and £60 ($65-$77) per person.

"We don't need to get through as many people as a West End show," said Lionetti-Maguire. "Because we're offering a much more intimate experience, we need to sell fewer tickets."

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