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IMAX will open its first virtual reality center in Europe by end of year

IMAX has made a deal with Europe’s biggest movie theater chain to open a “VR center” in Manchester by the end of the year. The VR center will be located inside one of Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group’s theaters and will let people play games, watch films, and move through interactive virtual-reality experiences.

This is one of several virtual reality installations that IMAX is launching worldwide. It hopes to open six before the end of the year, with plans to open locations in China, Japan, the Middle East, and Western Europe. A location in Los Angeles has also been announced and has already secured VR headsets from Starbreeze.

IMAX VR will go worldwide, if it’s successful

The VR centers will be somewhat experimental at first, as IMAX tries to figure out exactly what — if anything — clicks with consumers. IMAX says it will “use these pilot locations to test several factors, including the overall customer experience, pricing models, and the types of content featured.” It plans to roll the centers out globally, to some movie theaters and major tourist destinations, if they’re successful.

IMAX says its first round of VR experiences will last between 5 and 15 minutes each and will include films from major movie studios. More interesting may be the centers’ setup: IMAX says it’s created a “modular design” that allows various VR “pods” to be altered to allow for single person and group experiences.

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