WE’VE had 3D, even 4D, but twenty-first century techies are always looking to go one better.

IMAX are working with Google on a cinema-grade virtual reality camera

That’s where virtual reality comes in, whisking us off to far-flung worlds with the donning of a headset. Already starting to creep into our living rooms, with the likes of Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR, IMAX is now bringing it to the silver screens - and, according to plans announced today, Manchester is set to be one of the first cities in the world to try it out. 

Following an agreement between IMAX, ODEON and UCI Cinemas Group, The Printworks is to host Europe’s first pilot IMAX VR™ centre. Due to open by the end of 2016, it will offer guests ‘immersive, multi-dimensional VR experiences including entertainment, content and games.’ 

IMAX is in talks with Hollywood studios and gaming publishers to produce exclusive content, as well as working with Google on a cinema-grade virtual reality camera. The centre will employ a modular design and interactive ‘pods’ that can be adapted for either single or multi-user (depending on how social you’re feeling) along with ‘next-generation’ headsets developed by Acer and Starbreeze AB.

Following the imminent launch of IMAX’s first VR centre in Los Angeles, pilot centres are due to open in China, Japan, the US, Middle East and Western Europe over the coming months. If successful, the concept will ultimately be rolled out globally; meantime, we can play the happy roll of VR guinea pigs.

.Europe’s first IMAX VR™ centre will open in the Printworks

Richard L. Gelfond, IMAX Corp. CEO, said: “For nearly 50 years, IMAX’s mission has been to give audiences of all ages and generations a reason to get off their couches and leave the comfort of home to go out to the cinema. Today’s agreement with ODEON marks an important milestone in our continued effort to deliver differentiated entertainment experiences - now through location-based VR.” 

Paul Donovan, CEO of ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group, said: “We’re always looking for new ways to give our guests an even more immersive experience, so are very excited to be hosting Europe’s first IMAX VR centre at ODEON Printworks. We have a longstanding close relationship with IMAX which creates unforgettable experiences in many of our cinemas across Europe so we are delighted to be alongside them again, at the cutting edge of innovation, to introduce and pilot awesome new technology which will delight our guests.”

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