IMAX opened the first European VR experience center in Manchester, England, on November 24th. The virtual reality cinema is part of the company’s extensive VR plans and follows similar openings in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Shanghai.
Located at the intu Trafford Centre in Manchester and launched in partnership with Odeon Cinemas Group, the new VR experience center allows cinema goers to place themselves directly inside the movies they know and love.
The new design is unique to IMAX, utilizing pods which are designed to optimize user mobility and interaction in virtual environments.
These pods are paired with HTC Vive headsets and employ 360° surround sound, as well as room scale tracking.
“Our VR Experience Center at intu Trafford is already one of the most innovative and popular cinemas in Europe, and now the launch of the IMAX VR Experience will make it one of the most unique cinemas in the world,” says Mark Way, Managing Director ODEON Cinemas Group.
“Our guests will be awe-struck by the power of the IMAX technology and the quality of the content from the world’s most creative studios and developers. We have a great history of working closely with our partners at IMAX to bring guests the very best entertainment, and this is another massive step forward.”
“We’re delighted that our guests in Manchester will the first in Europe to enjoy it, and look forward to welcoming everyone to an unforgettable experience.”
IMAX VR Experience Virtual Reality Cinema Has Large Content Catalog
There’s currently a wide swath of content to choose from, with two experiences specifically based on blockbuster films – Justice League: IMAX VR Exclusive and Star Trek: Bridge Crew “Rescue at Perseph.”
The longest experience is Raw Data, which lasts 15 minutes, and is designed to be enjoyed by two standing players. The other experiences are notably shorter, lasting around 7-10 minutes.
That makes the IMAX VR Experience quite expensive per minute when compared to traditional cinema, with the most expensive costing £1.25 per minute – more than a premium rate phone call.
IMAX is confident that virtual reality cinema experiences warrant the premium price tag.
Early reviews suggest that each IMAX VR experience is just long enough to get the adrenaline pumping and the action is fluid enough to prevent any blurring issues or motion sickness.
The experiences are also still more affordable to those who can’t quite warrant the cost of a fully-loaded home VR set-up, which costs anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500.
While many have commented that VR could be a passing fad, IMAX remains committed to the technology.
That should mean more of these VR Experience Centers will pop up around the world. It’s not just IMAX either, the Curzon in Oxford also debuted with the UK’s first in-cinema VR lounge, although the chain uses Samsung Gear VRs in its set-up.