IMAX shut down a number of its out-of-home VR Experience Centres a few months ago with the proviso that the company wouldn’t be making further investment into VR during 2019. What wasn’t certain at the time was the fate of the rest of its VR Centres. According to a recent Imax report filed with the SEC, the company is officially stepping away from VR with the closure of its three remaining locations.

In the statement, Imax says it “has decided to close its remaining VR locations and write-off certain VR content investments.”

Speaking to an Imax spokesperson, Variety obtained this statement confirming the closures:

“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.”

Two short years ago, Imax garnered $50 million in VC funding for its pilot VR program with the intent to not only open VR centres worldwide, but to create “at least 25 new interactive experiences,” something Imax CEO Richard L. Gelfond at the time called “a new level of premium, high-quality content for use throughout the VR ecosystem.”

Image courtesy IMAXimax vr

Starting in early 2017, Imax opened a number of VR Experience Centres in major cities such as New York, L.A., Manchester, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Toronto. The ultimate aim was to bring movie-going crowds high-quality VR games and brand engagement experiences such as ILMxLab’s Star Wars: Trials on Tatoine, and showcase new VR tech such as Acer & Starbreeze’s wide field of view VR headset StarVR.

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Starting in June 2018, the company closed one of its premier New York locations, which was soon followed by the closure of its only China-based facility in Shanghai. In October, the company announced the closure of its last remaining New York location at AMC Kips Bay.

Only two weeks ago. Imax closed its last remaining European location in Manchester, leaving only three locations carrying the Imax VR name: Toronto, LA, and Bangkok.

All three remaining locations are due to close sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

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  • A VR Enthusiast

    Sometimes you need to prune some branches for a healthier tree (VR industry as a whole).

  • VR for the Road

    Has anyone here been to one? How was it?

    • Engineer_92

      Apparently they were just replicating the home experience at standalone locations. They used Vive setups with games that were not tied to any of the big films and were originally supposed to use the STAR VR headsets. On top of that the marketing was done poorly and it wasnt the best representation for VR introduction. Its probably for the best that these locations were shut down.

  • NooYawker

    I guess $10 for 10 minutes wasn’t a great idea in the first place.

    • Well, if you were thinking about dropping $600 on a VIVE, it’s a $10 product demo, right?

    • HybridEnergy

      Not when it’s just a bunch of plugged in OG Vives.

  • Proof XR Lab

    Picked the wrong city in the UK to host their European VR centre?

    Manchester population – 530,000
    London population – 8.78 million

    Bad business decisions are simply bad business decisions…offering “John Wick” on an HTC Vive is not unique to a LBE centre.

    “The Void” did great business in London with Secrets of the Empire hosted at Westfield Shepherds Bush shopping centre, and then when it moved to Westfield Stratford shopping centre. Not something you could ever replicate at home, The Void certaintly understands the market.

    • RavnosCC

      Did the Void in Orlando, so worth it, so fun. :D

  • sfmike

    Another example of corporate stupidly. They get a huge chunk of investment money with tales of making a quick billion on the VR “craze” then do the usual half hearted implementation and lack luster or non-existent promotion and then act surprised it fails. Someone in the corporate chain is making a killing but it’s not the investors or the public. It’s kind of the 3D movie thing all over again. And in the end it just feeds the haters and the know it all’s that say “see, I told you VR is a gimmick.”

    • Leon

      Exactly right. Someone made the money with little effort. Imagine what an innovative start up could have done with 50 million dollars.

    • care package

      as if that’s any different than the entire entertainment industry. Not much is going to deviate from that even in the future. Seems most of the replies in here are those refusing to see VR just isn’t taking off how they wanted to see it.

  • RavnosCC

    Anyone know how Dave and Busters is doing? I heard they were rolling out Vive games at a lot of their locations as well…

    • kool

      They have a Jurassic Park VR experience. It uses the Vive and had a pretty good wait to use it.

      • RavnosCC

        Nice. Seemed to have found a working business model. Get them in 4 at a time, multiplayer, low price (relatively).

  • sebrk

    Nobody will miss this half-assed attempt at showcasing VR. Just a cash grab. If you want an exclusive VR experience that you cannot have at home. Try VOID.

  • Sky Castle

    I demo my Vive and Rift at my work Christmas party every year for the past 3 years. There’s a lot of wear and tear from people using them, and I take really good care of my headsets. I can’t imagine how much toll it has for their product on a daily commercial operation.

  • MW

    Crappy image and no content. That was obvious. If something doesn’t change (in quality, prices and content), VR gaming will ends the same. For next 10 years vr will be used only in specific businesses not In mass entertainment.

    • Rex Thorne

      Quality image is already here with the Odyssey+. I expect the other manufacturers to catch up.

  • Sion12

    They should have done this when they have 4K+ HMD with 4K+ content. whats the point paying for a home lvl experience of a rift/vive?

    i probably would pay to watch movie on it, if they have some super expensive close to 8K HMD that is unaffordable to the general public

    • MW

      Great. We don’t have 4k headsets (or gpu power for them), or a real VR movies. They are existing only in dreams of VR enthusiast.

  • One sad news for the VR ecosystem

  • Patrick McKee

    Wow never even knew IMAX had VR stuff. IMAX has been fading for years. Must have a bunch of Executives out of touch with this reality.

  • Ted Joseph

    VR needs to get to a low weight, wireless, 210deg FOV —— VISER before it will be accepted in this level of business at an economic benefit to the share holder. Until then, it will be for the enthusiasts in their homes like me. I tried the VOID, and it was awesome, but many who were NOT VR enthusiasts stated that they hated the fact that they had to wear this heavy headset on their heads, and this backpack for the computer, and that they were considering purchasing a RIFT of VIVE prior, but were not going to after the VOID experience. . . . It was at that point where I realized the Facebooks R&D guy (forget his name) was spot on when he said a low weight viser is the ultimate goal. The Quest is a day one purchase for me, and based on this direction, it looks like Facebook/Oculus is on track to moving towards a wireless, Viser type solution.

    • Blufor

      John Carmack, a VR developer actually made some excellent points about exactly what the consumer wants and its not always what the corporate bosses assume. Watch his latest keynote speech, its informative. They had to shift direction a few times based on consumer habits