The Frame | Old Hollywood meets new technology at the IMAX virtual reality arcade

The movie company IMAX is best known for big screen entertainment. But as the film industry struggles with losing audiences to streaming and mobile content, IMAX is going virtual.

One of their initiatives is the IMAX Virtual Reality (VR) Centre — a “location-based” destination that provides cinematic VR experiences in an arcade setting.

IMAX VR Centre Trailer

Visitors buy tickets for VR experiences that are scheduled like movie showtimes, but most experiences are interactive and multi-player. Visitors even have to sign a waiver in case of an accident on a virtual adventure.


The lobby of the IMAX VR Centre in Los Angeles. Paola Mardo

Inside the main room are “pods,” walled-off spaces that each feature a different VR experience, many based on movies like “John Wick” and “Star Wars.”

In “The Walk,” a viewer can experience the thrill of traversing a tightrope across the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The experience is modeled after a pivotal scene in “The Walk,” the film that portrayed the real-life feat accomplished by French high-wire artist Philippe Petit in 1974.


Paola Mardo tries “The Walk” VR experience at the IMAX VR Centre in Los Angeles. Patrick Epino

The Centre also features original VR productions such as “Raising a Ruckus,” described by an attendant as a “roller-coaster meets a movie.” The viewer sits in a D-box chair — a movie theater seat that vibrates during the experience — then straps on a virtual reality headset and headphones to tune out of the real world and enter a virtual one.

Raising a Ruckus Trailer

In “Raising a Ruckus,” the viewer follows a brother and sister as they go on an adventure with their magical dog, Ruckus. The experience costs $10 and runs for about 12 minutes. It’s not as interactive as the “John Wick” shooting game, but the visuals are impressive. It’s like a cross between a Pixar movie and “Avatar,” but in 360-degrees.


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