Imax continues virtual reality investment, opening new VR center in Toronto

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Imax Corp. IMAX, +1.84% said on Thursday it’s expanding its virtual reality business, opening a new virtual reality center at a Cineplex theater TSX:CGX in Toronto, Canada. Along with the new VR center, Imax will add a new Imax auditorium at Cineplex theaters in Toronto and Regina. As U.S. box office trends have slowed, Imax has been investing heavily in virtual reality in hopes of driving traffic to movie theaters, and has been focused on expanding its international reach. Imax opened its flagship VR center in Los Angeles in January, followed by another location in New York City. The premium film exhibitor plans to launch eight more centers in North America, Western Europe and Asia this year. The plan is to use these as pilot locations to test consumer experience with the burgeoning technology, pricing and different content offerings. Imax said it plans to roll out the VR center concept globally at select multiplexes, shopping malls and tourist destinations. Shares of Imax have declined nearly 44% in the year to date, as cinema chains and film exhibitors have struggled to contend with weak box office results and concerns of shrinking theatrical windows and further digital disruption. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.14% by comparison, is up more than 9% in the year.