IMAX Closes Its Only European VR Center, Less Than Half Remain

by Jamie Feltham • November 30th, 2018

Almost a year ago to the day it opened, IMAX is closing down its only European VR center.

The UK-based center in Manchester’s Trafford Odeon cinema has now closed up shop, Variety reports. This is the latest in a long line of closures for the VR initiative, which kicked off in early 2017 with the hopes of becoming one of the definitive location-based VR experiences around the world. Adding in recent closures for centers in New York and elsewhere, IMAX is left with less than half of the locations it opened last year.

Just three centers remain open in Bangkok, Los Angeles and Toronto. IMAX previously confirmed that it has no plans to open up any new locations in 2019.

These centers were billed as ‘pilot runs’ that mainly featured VR experiences you could have at home, like timed demos of Superhot VR and Star Wars: Trials on Tattooine. The company had planned on eventually creating unique experiences that would complement current theatrical releases. Following the closure of New York and Shangai centers in mid-2018 IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond said: “The consumer reaction was extremely positive, but the numbers just weren’t there.”

But trouble has been afoot for IMAX and VR for some time. Earlier this year the company also put the breaks on its work on a premium 360-degree camera being developed with Google. It also planned to partner with Acer and Starbreeze’s StarVR to launch its centers, but most of the locations ended up using an HTC Vive and now there are reports that StarVR could be on the way out too.

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