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IMAX Unveils Flagship Virtual Reality Center in Los Angeles

Variety logo Variety 2/15/2017 Sarah Ahern
© Provided by Variety

If you’ve ever wanted to fulfill your childhood dream of holding a lightsaber in your hand, virtual reality can be the vehicle to set those fantasies back in motion.

At the official unveiling of the flagship IMAX VR center on Los Angeles’ Fairfax Avenue on Tuesday afternoon, viewers were taken into a large room housing 14 different pods, each containing a different VR experience that allows its users to temporarily escape real life.

In one of those pods, users can experience “Star Wars: Trials of Tatooine,” as they delve into the desert planet of Tatooine geared up as Luke Skywalker. Equipped with an HTC Vive headset, head-mounted display, a control device and sensory vest, users can feel the rumble of the deflected laser beams and the weight of the Skywalker’s electrifying green lightsaber.

At the event, IMAX VR announced  it has signed agreements to open four more IMAX VR centers in the coming months across the U.S. and China, with hubs in Shanghai, one at an AMC New York location, and two at Regal locations in New York and California.

The company also announced it has joined Steven Spielberg, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and other corporations as first-round investors in Dreamscape Immersive, a new Los-Angeles based startup for location based VR.

IMAX is also in partnership with ABC and Disney for a television show called “The Inhumans,” premiering in September.

IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond told Variety that now is the right time to go into VR because of the amount of capital and talent that is being poured into the brand, referring to today’s announcement of investors.

“One of my wishes is that a couple of years from now, people think of us not just for the experiences we provide now, but as a much broader entertainment company,” Gelfond said.

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