IMAX has long been the pinnacle of movie theater experiences. In a move to stay competitive and at the forefront of technology, they have unveiled their first VR "Experience Center" in Los Angeles. This is the start of what IMAX hopes will be many location-based VR theaters around the country and globe. This shift to small head mounted displays is interesting since IMAX has previously been known for having the largest movie screens.
The Los Angeles center will have 14 pods, each with an HTC Vive or Starbreeze StarVR headset, DBox cinema chair, physical controllers, and a wearable vibrating Subpac vest. The media content won't be so much feature length movies, as individual VR "experiences." These $7-10 ticket packages will feature content like the John Wick Chronicles, mountain climbing, flying, and others.
They describe the experience as follows:
“To get started, players can select the experiences and show times of their choice on the IMAX VR site or at the Centre – just like they would to order tickets to their favorite IMAX movie. Upon arriving, users will check in and then proceed to the Players’ Lounge for a quick briefing about the particulars of the play experience by one of IMAX’s VR guides. The players are then led to the uniquely designed pods, where they will be helped into the IMAX VR gear and prepare for the experience they’ve chosen.”
IMAX VR has raised $50 million to help produce content. The business model is aimed at consumers who want the occasional VR experience, but don't want to drop hundreds of dollars on their own headset. If the LA center is a success, IMAX has plans to open centers in New York, China, and the UK.