IMAX takes on VR
IMAX is looking to launch a batch of new VR Experience Centres in 2017 following the launch of its first virtual reality space in Los Angeles earlier this year. Likely new venues include New York City, the UK and elsewhere in Western Europe, in Asia and the Middle East. These pilot locations will be used test factors such as the customer experience, pricing models and different types of content.
IMAX’s strategy is then to roll out the concept to select multiplexes around the world, as well as to the likes of shopping centres and tourist destinations.
The LA centre features a suite of VR pods enabling users to head to a variety of virtual worlds. The pods boast HTC Vive gear along with haptic vests and motion chairs to pump up the immersiveness. The experiences last for between five and 15 minutes and cost $1 per minute.
IMAX has set up a $50 million VR fund, with backers including Acer, China Media Capital, City, WPP, among others. The cash will support the development of around 25 VR content experiences over the coming 36 months.
The company reckons it core skills set set it up nicely to successfully operate location-based VR experiences. “We have studio and filmmaker relationships on the content side, capture mechanisms for new content, relationships with exhibitors and real estate developers for potential VR sites and a brand that is synonymous with immersive experiences.”
IMAX is also making a big push over in China. It recently announced the first pilot IMAX VR Centre in the market together with Guangzhou JinYi Media Corporation and the Shanghai location is slated to open in the coming months. IMAX China says it “will continue pursuing efforts like VR and original content to further establish IMAX as a leader in the entertainment industry”.