IMAX has made a deal with Europe's biggest movie theatre chain to open a "VR centre" in Manchester by the end of the year. The VR centre will be located inside one of Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group's theatres and will let people play games, watch films, and move through interactive virtual-reality experiences.
This is one of several virtual reality installations that IMAX is launching worldwide. It hopes to open six before the end of the year, with plans to open locations in China, Japan, the Middle East, and Western Europe. A location in Los Angeles has also been announced and has already secured VR headsets from Starbreeze.
The VR centres will be somewhat experimental at first, as IMAX tries to figure out exactly what — if anything — clicks with consumers. IMAX says it will "use these pilot locations to test several factors, including the overall customer experience, pricing models, and the types of content featured." It plans to roll the centres out globally, to some movie theatres and major tourist destinations, if they're successful.
IMAX says its first round of VR experiences will last between 5 and 15 minutes each and will include films from major movie studios. More interesting may be the centres' setup: IMAX says it's created a "modular design" that allows various VR "pods" to be altered to allow for a single person and group experiences.