IMAX is continuing to explore location-based virtual reality as a compliment to its large-screen cinema experiences.
As part of its quarterly earnings call, IMAX provided an update on its VR efforts. The company explained that its recently opened VR center in Los Angeles has been visited by over 20,000 people since opening its doors in January.
The IMAX VR centers provide customers with a suite of VR experiences and hardware to enjoy. The centers function similarly to a movie theater in that tickets are purchased to access the content at a specific time. IMAX is reporting that the LA Center alone is generating $15,000 in weekly revenue — but it’s unclear if any of that is actual profit.
Encouraged by this success, IMAX is reportedly planning to launch additional VR centers in other key markets including New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, and a second LA location.
In addition to these centers, IMAX is continuing in its content partnership with Warner Brothers. Home Entertainment (a division of Time Warner Inc.). The two are partnering to create a series of VR experiences for upcoming Warner Bros. properties such as Justice League (2017), Aquaman (2018) and a third project to be determined.
IMAX’s first quarter earnings are down significantly from the same time in 2016. Bolstered by the massive success of Disney films such as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens ($2 billion worldwide), the company was enjoying massive upswings to the tune of $92.1 million for the quarter. Disney’s latest offerings such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are still performing well, but far below their predecessors. This quarter IMAX is reporting $68.7 million in revenue for Q1 2017.
Movie theaters and the companies like IMAX that partner with them are scrambling in 2017 to keep customers motivate to spend an evening inside their walls. In the age of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and many other online video streaming services; it’s simply less likely than ever that a family will chose to leave home and pay the infamously high prices of a movie theater.
These companies need to find new experiences that can only happen at their locations and VR could be a strong motivator. High-end headsets, and the PCs they require to run, are still prohibitively expensive for the casual consumer. But $10 may just be worth it if it gives them the chance to escape into another reality for a short while.
The company also announced plans to continue its expansion into the Chinese market which remains its single largest territory.