IMAX to Launch Its First VR Center in Europe

Manchester, England, center aims to open at the end of this year


IMAX will launch the first IMAX VR center in Europe in partnership with ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group, IMAX announced Tuesday.

The center will be in Manchester, England, and is looking at a planned opening at the end of 2016. It will deliver immersive and multi-dimensional VR experiences for guests.

In addition, IMAX is working with Acer and Starbreeze AB to give users the next-generation headset-mounted display (HMD) technology for an extra-wide peripheral field of view. The center will consist of several pods, so multiple players can enjoy VR experiences at the same time.

The center will have VR experiences ranging between 5 and 15 minutes in length. According to the release, the companies are in advanced stages with content developers and several Hollywood studios to produce VR experiences for the center. Eventually, IMAX will incorporate the premium content from the virtual reality camera in development with Google.

“For nearly 50 years, IMAX’s mission has been to give audiences — of all ages and across generations — a reason to get off their couches and leave the comfort of home to go out to the cinema. Today’s agreement with ODEON marks an important milestone in our continued effort to deliver differentiated entertainment experiences – now through location-based VR,” IMAX Corp. CEO Richard L. Gelfond said in a statement.

“We are extremely pleased with the significant progress we’ve made on this initiative in this short period of time and believe this commitment from such a significant European exhibitor is a testament to the interest and potential of this offering. ODEON is a longtime partner that shares our vision in delivering guests the ultimate in premium experiences and we look forward to ushering in the next evolution of immersive entertainment with this test centre.”

IMAX is also in the process of launching its first showroom and pilot IMAX VR center in Los Angeles, with additional test facilities in China, Japan, the U.S., the Middle East and Western Europe in upcoming months.