Virtual reality is already taking at-home gaming to new heights with the release of devices such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but those VR headsets could also have a place at multiplexes. During the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, IMAX CEO Greg Foster teased that the company was planning to trial VR headsets in some IMAX locations – and the trial could start as soon as the end of the year.
While multiplexes have been quick to concentrate on improved audio, with the roll-out of Auro3D and Dolby Atmos dominating news about new cinema technology, Greg notes that 50% of IMAX’s time is currently spent assessing a virtual reality model for the future of cinema.
Despite many analysts over the years predicting the death of the cinema as we know it, Greg stopped short of killing traditional cinemas. In fact, he believes that VR could complement the traditional IMAX experience. According to Greg, IMAX is working on a ticket that would enable moviegoers to enjoy the theatrical film in one of its cinemas, and then afterwards also enjoy a VR experience tied in with the movie of choice.
“You can interact, flying the Millennium Falcon, go into the cantina and bring down the Death Star,” is one hypothetical situation Greg notes as a possibility for VR’s use in future multiplexes.
While many consumers still remain to be convinced on the advantages of VR technology, Greg says that IMAX is mobilising as fast as it can to ensure that its company is well-placed in the adoption of the technology. “All of our core partners would like VR in the core locations, the ones that really work,” he notes.
Little else is known about IMAX’s VR ambition, but the company’s roll-out plans could mean multiplexes around the world start to convert one of their screens into VR rooms.