IMAX, the company which was behind bringing the biggest screens in cinema is officially giving up on their VR screens. The news was confirmed by Variety as follows.
Earlier this year, IMAX confirmed that it had paused work on a VR camera project it was developing with Google. But on December 13th, 2018, The company notified shareholders with a SEC filing Thursday that it will close down its remaining three VR centres, and write off “certain VR content investments.”
More about IMAX and VR –
Virtual reality arcades were supposed to be one of the first, most convenient ways that expensive VR headgear would reach the masses. But IMAX, the highest-profile provider of VR arcades, has decided to throw in the towel. The large-format cinema company has officially announced that it will be shutting down its last three locations. That is in Los Angeles, Bangkok and Toronto early next year, and is writing off its VR business as well.
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.”
More Insight –
The Closure –
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 centres around the world.
But virtual reality hasn’t had quite the introduction that enthusiasts and investors had hoped. A number of companies have been scaling back their ambitions. VR film company Jaunt pivoted to augmented reality in October. Microsoft backed away from its promises to bring VR to the Xbox in June; camera maker Lytro shut down in March.
IMAX has been scaling back VR for a while now, actually. It cancelled a VR camera project with Google in August, and shut down its other four arcades earlier this year.
The company previously closed four of its seven VR centres, including most recently its sole European outpost in Manchester. It still operates three IMAX VR locations in Los Angeles, Bangkok, and Toronto.