IMAX has already teased big plans for VR in some of its cinemas around the world, and the very first one in Los Angeles is now open for visitors wanting to get their first commercial taste of VR.
The IMAX theatre in Los Angeles will be used as a testing bed for the company. There needs to be proof that the concept works before IMAX invest heavily in rolling it out across the globe. Despite the need to test the concept, IMAX has already promised at least another three VR centres around the world – with one planned for New York, China and the UK.
In Los Angeles, enthusiasts will be able to try out premium VR experiences without being forced to purchase an expensive gaming PC or headset. Instead, for a single fee users will be able to pop in and try on either the HTC Vive or Starbreeze StarVR headsets and immerse themselves in a virtual world.
To further immerse visitors in the experience, IMAX has installed 14 isolated pods where those trying out the VR experience can sit. Inside these pods are specially designed Dbox cinema chairs, a vibration-emitting Subpac vest and a plethora of physical controllers.
The pricing model is somewhat flexible at the moment, after all this is just a test to see if these kind of experiences are in demand. IMAX is currently offering visitors the ability to try out individual VR experiences in exchange for a fee, or buy a ‘sampler’ package, which allows attendees to try out more than just one experience.
IMAX is far from the first company to pioneer the VR cinema experience. In Paris MK2 has already constructed its own experience, and other cinema chains are reportedly interested in the idea.
So what can IMAX do to set itself apart from other cinema chains? Well, the company is hoping to differentiate itself with original content. A number of brands have already committed to working with IMAX on some exclusive VR material, although that content isn’t quite ready for launch day. For now, users will have to immerse themeslves in experiences such as John Wick Chronicles, Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, Eagle Flight and The Walk.