Today we hear the second one: a joint venture with Sweeden’s Starbreeze AB, a VR content and hardware company, that’s part of a broad initiative that Imax says will “create a highly differentiated, destination-based VR experience that will draw audiences out of their homes.”
They plan to offer Imax-branded VR experiences at six domestic and international sites this year; the first one has been selected but was not disclosed. The venues will include multiplexes, shopping centers and tourist destinations. If all goes as planned, Imax will launch the initiative globally.
Imax will design the products and handle management, installation, sales, marketing and communications support. Starbreeze will deliver the software and hardware and provide technical and product support.
The announcement helped to lift Imax shares 1.6% in early trading. VR “holds tremendous promise and is a natural progression for Imax,” CEO Richard Gelfond says.
The company adds that it’s looking for “new VR content partnerships” with Hollywood filmmakers and studios. A few already have expressed interest. Director Michael Bay says he’s in “advanced discussions with Imax on some fun VR concepts.”
Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore says Imax VR “opens up a lot of exciting creative possibilities for our properties,” and Peter Levin, President of Interactive Ventures and Games at Lionsgate, says the studio is is “happy” to broaden its existing relationship with Starbreeze “to include our longtime friends at Imax.”
Starbreeze’s StarVR headsets provide a 210-degree full peripheral field of view, which Imax says is “double that of any other VR headset currently available.” The company also has a library of VR entertainment and games Imax will offer customers along with “premium content resulting from the Imax Google VR camera.”
Gelfond says that the headsets “will deliver a wider, ‘Imax-like’ field of view to allow consumers to see, feel, move and play in new worlds in a powerfully immersive and realistic way. While our partnership with Google puts Imax in the VR capture business, Starbreeze brings the capabilities in content distribution and delivery that, when combined, help us to establish a complete offering across the VR ecosystem.”