IMAX has finally made good on its promise to debut its first European VR experience Centre in Manchester, with the doors having opened on November 24. The cinema was always part of the company’s bullish VR plans, and follows similar openings in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Shanghai.
Located at the Intu Trafford Centre in Manchester, and launched in partnership with Odeon Cinemas Group, the new VR experience centre will allow cinemagoers to place themselves directly inside the movies they know and love like never before. The new design is unique to IMAX, utilising pods which are designed to optimise user mobility and interaction in virtual environments. These pods are paired with HTC Vive headsets, and employ 360° surround sound, as well as room scale tracking.
“Our ODEON at the intu Trafford Centre is already one of the most innovative and popular cinemas in Europe, and now the launch of the IMAX VR Experience will make it one of the most unique cinemas in the world,” says Mark Way, Managing Director ODEON Cinemas Group.
“Our guests will be awe-struck by the power of the IMAX technology and the quality of the content from the world’s most creative studios and developers. We have a great history of working closely with our partners at IMAX to bring guests the very best entertainment, and this is another massive step forward. We’re delighted that our guests in Manchester will the first in Europe to enjoy it, and look forward to welcoming everyone to an unforgettable experience.”
Prepare To Pay More For VR
Tickets can be booked directly from the IMAX VR landing page on the Odeon website, with the experiences ranging in price from £7.50 to £10. There’s currently a whole bunch of content to choose from, with two experiences specifically based on blockbuster films –Justice League: IMAX VR Exclusive and Star Trek: Bridge Crew “Rescue at Perseph”.
The longest experience is Raw Data, which will last 15 minutes, and is designed to be enjoyed by two standing players. The other experiences will be notably shorter, lasting around 7-10 minutes. That makes the IMAX VR Experiences quite expensive per minute when compared to traditional cinema, with the most expensive costing £1.25 per minute – more than a premium rate phone call.
IMAX is confident that the experiences warrant the premium price tag. Early reviews have suggested that the experiences are just long enough to get the adrenaline pumping, and the action is fluid enough to prevent any blurring issues or motion sickness. The experiences are also still more affordable to those who can’t quite warrant the cost of a fully-loaded home VR set-up, which will cost in excess of £2,000.
While many have commented that VR could be a passing fad, IMAX remains committed to the technology. That should mean more of these VR experience centres will pop up around the world. It’s not just IMAX either, the Curzon in Oxford also debuted with the UK’s first in-cinema VR lounge, although the chain is using inferior Samsung Gear VRs in its set-up.
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