IMAX has closed four of its seven VR cinema centers and is no longer planning to co-develop a VR camera with Google, according to a report by Variety.
Over before it started
In 2016, IMAX raised $50 million dollars for its VR cinema centers, with part of the budget being earmarked for creating content together with game and Hollywood studios.
The first VR center was opened in early 2017 and the company had planned to install about a dozen of these in major cities around the world. Seven VR centers were launched in New York (2), Shanghai, Los Angeles, Toronto, Bangkok, and Manchester before IMAX started scaling back. Now, only four remain. The company was charging $7-10 dollars for tickets.
IMAX has cancelled its plan to develop a VR camera with Google and the company has told shareholders that there will be no further investments in VR in 2019.
IMAX was not alone in eyeing an opportunity for VR in cinema but none of the announced projects appear to have been particularly successful.
James Cameron and theaters convinced audiences to put on 3D glasses but complete immersion in a headset may have been a step too far for cinemagoers. IMAX VR was launched as an – expensive – ”experiment” but it seems to be over before it started. The market for VR in the home is also struggling as it declined 33.7% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2018 and saw only modest growth of 8.2% in the third quarter.