AMC Theaters, the largest cinema chain worldwide, and largest in the United States, has announced a strategic investment in Dreamscape Immersive, a firm developing multi-user out-of-home VR attractions. AMC is leading a $20 million investment in the company—aimed at rolling out a number of VR attractions both inside and outside of AMC theaters—and is committing $10 million to a fund to generate bespoke VR content for the facilities.
Dreamscape Immersive is creating VR attraction facilities which leverage full body tracking technology provided by Switzerland-based Artanim. A VR headset attached to a backpack computer offers untethered movement around a large physical space for up to six players simultaneously. The tracking system supports shared interactions like handshaking, and prop handling. A video from Artanim gives an idea of how the technology works together to create interactive multi-user VR experiences with physical locomotion:
AMC, the world’s largest cinema chain, is leading a $20 million Series B investment in Dreamscape Immersive. AMC says the money will “rapidly scale the development and expansion of Dreamscape Immersive.” Specifically the companies plan to open six Dreamscape VR centers in the next 18 months, some of which will be located inside of AMC theaters. Additionally, Dreamscape also plans to open a flagship location at Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles in Q1 of 2018.
AMC says it’s funding 50% of the of the $20 million Series B. AMC is additionally investing $10 million into a content fund to begin creating bespoke immersive experiences for the Dreamscape VR attraction centers. Dreamscape says it’s in talks with major studios and IP-holders; naturally the companies hope to make recognizable film franchises part of the immersive content offering, something AMC seems likely to be able to help with.
“In many cases, we have surplus space, and we think Dreamscape will add energy and excitement to our theaters, especially during the week,” Adam Aron, CEO of AMC, told the New York Times. “But this isn’t a replacement for movies. It’s a complement.”
Dreamscape’s momentum is impressive, as is its roster of investors and advisors. The company completed its Series A funding just nine months ago, with backers including Bold Capital Partners, Warner Bros., 21st Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), IMAX Corporation, Westfield Corporation, and Steven Spielberg. The New York Times reports that company’s Series B brings Dreamscape’s financing to some $40 million.
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Dreamscape Immersive isn’t without competition. Notable rivals in the world of multi-user out-of-home VR attractions include The VOID, which recently signed with Disney to produce a multi-user VR Star Wars experience. Then there’s Zero Latency, which already has installations in Australia, Japan, and its latest location inside the MGM Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
IMAX is similarly getting in on the VR attraction game, though their first stab, the IMAX VR Experience Centre in Los Angeles, is positioned more as a VR arcade, offering experiences closer to the sort that users can get in their homes with consumer VR equipment. IMAX was an investor in Dreamscape’s Series A (and may have followed on the Series B), so it’s possible that we’ll see some cross-pollination between the differing approaches.