×

Imax Is Shutting Down Its VR Business, Closing Remaining Three VR Centers in Q1

Imax is making its exit from virtual reality (VR) official: The company notified shareholders with a SEC filing Thursday that it will close down its remaining three VR centers, and write off “certain VR content investments.”

A company spokesperson confirmed the planned closures and shared the following statement with Variety: “With the launch of the IMAX VR centre pilot program our intention was to test a variety of different concepts and locations to determine which approaches work well. After a trial period with VR centres in multiplexes, we have decided to conclude the IMAX VR centre pilot program and close the remaining three locations in Q1 2019.”

The company previously closed four of its seven VR centers, including most recently its sole European outpost in Manchester. It still operates three Imax VR locations in Los Angeles, Bangkok, and Toronto.

Imax launched Imax VR in early 2017 with a flagship location adjacent to the Grove mall in Los Angeles. At the time, the expansion into VR was billed as an experiment, and a way for Imax to determine whether VR could be the next big thing for the company. Its original strategy called for the launch of roughly a dozen such VR centers around the world, which were supposed to be used to fine-tune the model for possible further expansion.

Imax also set up a $50 million VR content fund, and got CAA, China Media Capital, and the Raine Group to co-produce VR experiences. The idea for these content investments was to give Imax VR centers access to exclusive windows for tentpole VR titles. One of the titles co-financed by the fund was “Justice League, An Imax VR Exclusive,” which debuted in Imax VR centers in November.

In the end, Imax opened seven centers, but quickly realized that its take on location-based VR wasn’t going to be an immediate money-maker. “The consumer reaction was extremely positive, but the numbers just weren’t there,” admitted Imax CEO Richard Gelford during an earnings call earlier this year.

The company went on to close a New York VR center in June, and shut down its Shanghai VR center in early July. In October, it shuttered another New York location, and executives told investors that they didn’t anticipate any new investments in VR in 2019. Separately, Imax and Google also ended their joint development of a cinematic VR camera at the end of last year.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]

  • AT&T Logo Building

    AT&T TV Now Price Hike Coming Next Month, Base Package to Cost $65

    AT&T is instituting a substantial price hike for its live TV streaming service AT&T TV Now: Customers who have subscribed to the service’s basic “Plus” package will see their bill go up by $15, to a total of $65 per month, starting next month. The telco has started to inform existing subscribers about the price [...]

  • Disney-Family-Movies

    Disney Family Movies SVOD Service Is Shutting Down Ahead of Disney Plus Debut

    After 11 years, Disney is pulling the plug on Disney Family Movies On Demand — with the service’s shutdown coming just days before the launch of the Mouse House’s Disney Plus. Disney Family Movies, which cost between $5-$10 per month, has been available via pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Communications, Verizon [...]

  • Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham

    Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ Soccer Doc Series

    Amazon has greenlit a new “All or Nothing” sports documentary series, this time following London-based soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” will follow a year in the life of the team, charting the ongoing 2019-20 season. The squad made it to the final of the European Champions League last year, losing to [...]

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Picks T-Mobile as Wireless Launch Partner

    Quibi, the short-form mobile TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced a pact with T-Mobile to be the official telecommunications partner for its April 2020 launch. T-Mobile will be the exclusive wireless distributor when Quibi launches next spring. However, the arrangement doesn’t mean only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi: Anyone will [...]

  • Steve Kornacki

    Steve Kornacki, Chris Matthews Stand at Center of New NBC News Podcasts

    After vowing to press ahead more directly into the world of podcasts, NBC News is readying the launch of three additional audio shows centered around politics. “Article II: Inside Impeachment” will help listeners understand the impeachment process. The program, new episodes of which are slated to debut Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as people head for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content