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IMAX Opens First Virtual Reality Center in Europe

Plans take shape for five more VR centers internationally

IMAX and Odeon Cinemas have opened a virtual reality entertainment hub in Manchester, England, the first of its kind in Europe.

There are five IMAX VR Centers around the world offering virtual reality movies, games, and experiences. The British one is located inside the Odeon at the intu Trafford Centre, and comprises 10 pods that allow multiple players or viewers to experience VR in a social setting. IMAX said it wants to test VR’s ability to woo younger audiences to the cinema.

“We are excited to join forces with our longtime partner Odeon to unveil the next evolution of immersive entertainment in Europe, starting with the launch of the IMAX VR Centre in Manchester,” said Giovanni Dolci, managing director, Europe & Africa, IMAX Corp. “IMAX VR brings the best VR technology and content together in a highly social and interactive setting.”

IMAX has established a VR Content Fund and will provide the content for the new center. The VR experiences on offer are typically between eight and 15 minutes. Launch content includes Ubisoft’s “Star Trek: Bridge Crew Rescue at Perseph” and a “Justice League” experience from Warner Bros.

IMAX and Warner Bros. have a co-financing and production deal for VR content, with “Justice League” one of three projects they will work on together.

The Manchester launch comes after the opening of similar centers in L.A., New York, Toronto, and Shanghai. It plans to open five additional centers in the coming month, in the U.S., Asia, and beyond.

Mark Way, managing director for Odeon Cinemas Group, said: “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.”

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