On Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, right next to a Chik-fil-A, is Spyscape — a two-floor, futuristic-looking museum/interactive experience space that gives spycraft lovers a close-up look at the world of espionage.
Now DC’s famed Caped Crusader is about to swoop down on Spyscape.
Batman x Spyscape is a hybrid experience that uses a live-updating smartphone app to guide visitors through the physical headquarters of Leviathan, the criminal organization from the DC Universe. The attraction is set to open to the public on Wednesday, June 8.
Spyscape founder John Hunt gave Variety a sneak peek at the installation this week (although he requested that we not share photos from inside).
The experience puts you in the middle of a Gotham City mystery: You’re enlisted to help Batman solve the puzzle and thwart Leviathan’s evil plot to take down some of DC’s biggest superheroes, like Wonder Woman, Superman and (natch) Batman. It’s not an escape room per se, but your progress through the installation is determined base on what details you uncover in each of the areas of the Leviathan HQ.
Ahead of their visit, users are asked to download the Batman x Spyscape app to get the gist of the story. When they’re in the building, ostensibly on a guided tour of the Leviathan offices, they are recruited by the mysterious Oracle, an alternate identity of Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl). The Oracle hacks Leviathan’s security system, giving you access to the group’s control center and labs to solve a string of kidnappings. During the visit, you’ll get real-time messages in the app from some of Gotham’s most famous characters — including The Riddler and Batman himself. (Spoiler alert: You won’t see Batman in the flesh; that’s to preserve his enigmatic mythos, according to Hunt.)
Even after they leave the venue, there’s still more story to unfold via the app. Hunt said developing the software to run Batman x Spyscape took a year.
Spyscape produced the Batman exhibit in partnership with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment. “Our premise is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” Hunt said. “Warner Bros. came to us because that really synced with Batman.”
Tickets for Batman x Spyscape will have an introductory price of $29; Hunt said the tickets will eventually be upped to “$49-ish.” At the end of their walk-through, in addition to an array of other merchandise, visitors will be able to purchase a companion book retelling the story they just experienced — featuring a comic-book version of their own selfie.
Batman x Spyscape features an original story by Gail Simone, who has written for DC Comics’ “Batgirl” and “Wonder Woman.” It also includes new artwork by artist Jim Calafiore. The immersive exhibition was designed by Mona Kim Projects.
By the end of June, Hunt said, Spyscape expects to have installed Bruce Wayne’s Lamborghini (from “The Dark Knight”) at the facility — suspended 50 feet above the lobby floor. That will join James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, which Pierce Brosnan drove in 1995’s “GoldenEye.”
Spyscape is housed in a 60,000-square-foot space at 928 8th Avenue (between 54th and 55th streets). It opened in 2019 — but it was largely closed during the COVID pandemic. Hunt said the company, which is backed by U.K.-based investment firm Archimedia, hopes to eventually open as many as 50 other locations around the world.
The main Spyscape interactive exhibit draws 1,000-2,000 visitors per day, according to Hunt, with adult tickets priced at $39 each. It’s part museum — with artifacts that include Nazi Enigma machines and a U2 spy plane camera — and part interactive experience that uses quizzes and tests to compile a personality profile on each guest. Hunt, a Brit who’s based in London, said his team worked with MI6’s former head of training to create the personality-analysis software. Spyscape, however, doesn’t comb the internet to unearth your personal details or social-media posts. “We’re not dicks,” Hunt said (by which he meant “detectives”).
About 60% of Spyscape’s visitors are women, with a concentration among millennials, according to Hunt. Most of the venue’s marketing is through word-of-mouth, as well as through Spyscape’s two newsletters, which have about 250,000 subscribers each, and a series of original podcasts on spy-related topics.
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