Imax continues its bullish move toward virtual reality, announcing a co-financing and production agreement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment through which they will develop and release a trio of VR experiences based on Warner's Justice League, Aquaman and another title not yet revealed.
The companies plan to launch one experience each year - beginning with Justice League VR in late 2017 - with an exclusive window at Imax location-based VR sites before being making the film available to other VR platforms.
Imax is starting to roll out location-based VR through "pods" that would be installed in movie theaters and other public spaces. The first test site is its VR Experience Centre near The Grove in L.A., with five more set to open in New York, California, the U.K. and Shanghai during the coming months. If it's successful, the intent is to roll out the concept globally to select multiplexes as well as commercial locations such as shopping centers and tourist destinations.
"It's fitting that with Imax and Warner Bros.' shared history of launching Hollywood movies in IMAX theatres, today we're entering into our first studio deal to bring VR to the multiplex," said Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond, who aims to reach out to additional studios to create similar deals based on their tentpole brands. "A key component of our vision for VR is to help usher in the first wave of high-end blockbuster-based content. Justice League and Aquaman feature some of the most beloved characters on the planet, providing iconic properties to launch this effort."
"We believe that capitalizing on Justice League and Aquaman characters from our well-known DC properties will broaden the appeal of this fast -growing technology," added Ron Sanders, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution.
Gelfond said the funding for the Warners projects would likely come from the $50 million Imax VR Fund, which was launched at the end of 2016 to help finance the creation of roughly 25 experiences over the next three years.
Imax has already inked VR content deals with David Ellison's Skydance and game developer Ubisoft. Some of this content may involve use of motion controllers, haptic vests or motion-controlled seats from D-Box at the Imax venues.