Big-screen cinema specialist Imax has announced a partnership with Odeon & UCI Cinemas to launch the first Imax VR centre in Europe, housed at the company's Printworks multiplex in Manchester.
Part of the growing trend to public-venue use of virtual reality hardware, echoing the technology's last big push in the 90s with Virtuality systems in arcades, Imax's VR Experience Centre is planned to open in Manchester before the end of this year. Using StarVR hardware from Starbreeze
, the centre will offer 'an ongoing array of new, premium interactive content experiences that are expected to range between five and 15 minutes in length each.
'For nearly 50 years, Imax's mission has been to give audiences - of all ages and across generations - a reason to get off their couches and leave the comfort of home to go out to the cinema. Today’s agreement with Odeon marks an important milestone in our continued effort to deliver differentiated entertainment experiences, now through location-based VR,
' claimed Imax chief executive Richard Gelfond. 'We are extremely pleased with the significant progress we’ve made on this initiative in this short period of time and believe this commitment from such a significant European exhibitor is a testament to the interest and potential of this offering. Odeon is a longtime partner that shares our vision in delivering guests the ultimate in premium experiences and we look forward to ushering in the next evolution of immersive entertainment with this test centre.
The centre will use a modular design, proprietary to Imax, with users entering 'pods' which can be customised to suit single- or multi-user 'interactive content experiences' and particular content types. The opening follows the company's work with its first Imax VR centre in Los Angeles, with plans to open more in China, Japan, the US, the Middle East, and Western Europe in the coming months.
'We're always looking for new ways to give our guests an even more immersive experience, so are very excited to be hosting Europe's first Imax VR centre at Odeon Printworks,
' added Paul Donovan, chief executive of the Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, of the partnership. 'We have a longstanding close relationship with Imax which creates unforgettable experiences in many of our cinemas across Europe, so we are delighted to be alongside them again, at the cutting edge of innovation, to introduce and pilot awesome new technology which will delight our guests.
A formal opening date for the Printworks Imax VR Centre has not yet been announced.