Back Ticklers, Smoke Fans & Water Guns: Get Ready For 4-D Movie theatres

Movie theatre

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With the 3-D fad starting to fade quickly, Hollywood is looking for the next big thing to tack on a surcharge to movie tickets. And they may have found it in 4-D.South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, operators of Asia’s largest theatre chain, already have 29 4DPlex theatres set up in South Korea, Thailand, and Mexico.

They have already screened interactive movies such as “Avatar,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the recent “Prometheus.”

Features such as back ticklers, smoke fans, and water guns combine with moving seats to create an immersive experience for the viewer (they also have over 1,000 scents from rose garden to burning rubber). For example, in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the seats rocked with the boat in the movie, with gusts of air and splashes of water adding to the absorbing experience.

CJ 4DPlex now shows roughly 20 Hollywood movies a year. CJ Group tells the Los Angeles Times they look to offer a “richer” movie experience, and have so far found great success in doing so. 

According to the LA Times article, CJ Group hopes to make 200 U.S. theatres 4-D-ready over the next five years, with the first few set to open this year in major cities including New York and Los Angeles. The CJ says 4-D will help change the decline in ticket sales, even with an anticipated $8 price hike. 

“theatres need to find new ways to bring people back to the multiplex and away from their couches, and this is one way of doing that,” said Theodore Kim, chief operating officer for the Los Angeles lab of 4DPlex set up to demonstrate and market their 4-D system, in the recent LA Times interview.

But movie theatre gimmicks aren’t anything new—Smell-O-Vision, anyone?

The key is to make the additions not feel like gimmicks at all. The reason “Avatar’s” 3-D was praised while “Clash of the Titans” was mocked was because only one of them made the movie a more immersive experience. It was good because it wasn’t noticeable. Yet both cost the same surcharge.

Moviegoers want to know what they’re getting if they’re going to fork over extra cash, and for 4-D to succeed, especially long-term, it needs to provide a consistent, improved, integrated experience, something 3-D failed to do. 

SEE ALSO: How close are we to investing our money in movies? >

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