IMAX trials VR cinema experience

Film company IMAX has announced a new virtual reality (VR) movie experience in which cinema-goers have the opportunity to ‘step into’ their favourite films.

The technology which will be trialled at the Manchester Printworks Odeon later this year.

The pilot scheme is built around specially designed ‘pods’ where groups of movie-goers will wear VR headsets and be carried into the world of the latest blockbusters. They will be able to move around and interact with the virtual environment they see.

IMAX chief executive Richard Gelfond told the Press Association that the pilot aims to create a unique VR experience.

“We thought that in the home it’s quite expensive to buy a headset and it’s quite expensive to buy a computer, and the computing power is limited and you’re also limited by the fact that your mother may be in the next room when you’re trying to use it, making it somewhat less immersive,” he said.

“So we thought we could create a much better experience than you could get in the home, and at a much lower cost because you would pay on a per use basis rather than owning it.”

Thanks to the relationships it has in the film-making industry, IMAX can “create and secure the right content”, Gelfond explained. The experience will also include video game-inspired opportunities, he added.

“Our plan is to develop content consistent with movies. I’ve been using, by way of example, Mission Impossible 4 — Tom Cruise climbed the Burj Khalifa. So you could race Tom Cruise to the top of the Burj Khalifa.

“In time — the technology’s not there for it now — but you could race me and Tom Cruise up the tower and someone else could be standing at the top shooting down at you — hopefully one of your friends. But the idea is to take some of the talent and experience in a movie and create a fun environment around it and enjoy it.”

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