Imax on Tuesday revealed the next steps in its plan to enter the virtual reality business with a flurry of partner news at its Virtual Reality Experience Center near The Grove in Los Angeles, its first publicly open showcase for its model of location-based VR pods that it intends to open in movie theaters and other public spaces.
That included new content deals with Skydance Interactive (the interactive arm of David Ellison's Skydance Media), for which Imax centers will offer Skydance's first two VR projects as part of their rollout: Archangel, a story-driven shooter experience, and Life VR, based on the upcoming feature film.
The company also inked a content deal with game developer Ubisoft, which will release its Rabbids VR-Ride, Eagle Flight and upcoming Star Trek: Bridge Crew to pilot Imax VR centers. Additional titles currently available via Imax's center is Sony's The Walk and ILMxLab's Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine.
Imax CEO Richard Gelfond reported that 5,000 people have visited the Los Angeles-based center since it opened in early January and restated plans to launch at least five more this year (including one previously announced site in the U.K. with Odeon and UCI Cinema).
Imax also revealed new deals with Regal Entertainment Group, which agreed to install a pilot Imax VR Centre at two of Regal's locations in New York and California; AMC Theatres, which plans to install a pilot Imax VR Centre at an AMC location in New York; and Guangzhou JinYi Media, which will install a pilot Imax VR Centre at its Shanghai Hongkou Plaza multiplex.
The center's pods can be used by individuals or a group to experience short-form VR content (currently under 15 minutes in length). Per the current model, customers purchase a ticket as they would in a movie theater. It is priced at $7-12 per experience.
It currently offers HTC Vive and Starbreeze's Star VR headsets, as well as, for certain experiences, motion controllers, haptic vests or motion-controlled seats from D-Box.
Imax also reported on Tuesday that it joined Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Westfield, Bold Capital Partners and Steven Spielberg as first-round investors in Dreamscape Immersive, a new untethered VR technology developer. Plans are to launch a "VR multiplex" in the fall at Westfield's Century City Mall in Los Angeles.
Imax also reported that the previously announced VR camera that its co-developing with Google is expected to be completed in 2018.