IMAX Backs Out of VR Business

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In an SEC filing dated Thursday, December 13, IMAX announced that they will be shuttering their in-theater VR centers. The decision to close VR locations and “write-off certain VR content investments,” per the filing, is “in connection with [IMAX’s] previously-announced strategic review of its virtual reality pilot initiative.”

In 2016, IMAX partnered with a handful of investors for a $50 million VR fund with the aim of creating “event-style productions” to complement IMAX releases. IMAX’s VR centers, initially placed in theater lobbies, were meant to augment the traditional moviegoing experience by providing “a unique combination of premium technology and world-class content that lets users see, feel, move and play in new worlds in a powerfully immersive and realistic way.” Said IMAX Corp. CEO Richard L. Gelfond at the time, “We will be leveraging our collective relationships with world-class filmmakers and content creators to fund VR experiences that excite and attract a larger user base to capitalize on opportunities across all VR platforms including IMAX VR.”

A recent IMAX VR experience, tied to Creed II, put moviegoers in the ring with Adonis Creed.

The (now-closed) IMAX VR center at Regal’s E-Walk Times Square location was designed for interactive films between ranging between 8 and 15 minutes in length. AMC formerly had a New York City IMAX VR presence in its Kips Bay location, though that particular VR center closed in October. IMAX VR locations are—as of now— located in Los Angeles, Bangkok and Toronto. They are expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Motion seating company D-Box has expressed interest in virtual reality, as has French operator mk2.