TORONTO – Lights! Fog! Action!
Cineplex is launching an even pricier night at the movies this summer with so-called 4D technology, which augments films with piped-in scents and environmental effects like wind, snow and bubbles.
The exhibitor plans to open its first 4DX auditorium in downtown Toronto, with a new tier of big-screen experience that will push ticket prices above $24.
It’s the latest cutting-edge technology being adopted by Hollywood in the hopes of convincing moviegoers to upgrade their tickets.
In the new format, screenings of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” aren’t just in 3D — they come with artificial rain, wind and lightning that reflect what’s on screen. The special 4DX theatres will also have traditional seats replaced with chairs that move in sync with the action.
Dan McGrath, Cineplex’s chief operating officer, says he was first hooked by 4DX when he visited a screening room in California to sample the Marvel superhero movie “Ant-Man.”
“We were going to watch 10 or 15 minutes,” he recalled.
“But the 4DX experience was so good we didn’t want to leave. So we literally sat there … and watched the entire film.”
McGrath acknowledges it won’t be for everyone — or suited for every movie — but he’s confident a loyal audience will continue buying the premium-priced tickets.
While Cineplex hasn’t decided how much it will charge customers, McGrath says 4DX will be the most expensive ticket on its menu.
“If people are getting an experience they think is delivering value then they will have no problem at all with the price,” he says.
“But it’s got to be a good experience.”
Movie exhibitors around the world have been testing new ways to boost ticket prices as attendance numbers remain stagnant in many countries.
At Cineplex, the company has introduced a variety of premium-priced experiences to redefine a night out at the movies. Its VIP theatres across much of the country encourage moviegoers to eat dinner at the theatre and order alcoholic beverages for the movie.
Last month, Cineplex also accelerated its rollout of D-Box motion seats to 23 additional auditoriums across the country. Those theatres have moving seats, just like 4DX, but come without the environmental effects and are slightly cheaper tickets.
Cineplex plans to open its first completely redesigned 4DX theatre at its heavily-trafficked Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP in downtown Toronto.
4DX theatres, developed by South Korean company CJ 4Dplex, are already installed in 230 locations in major cities like Los Angeles, London and Bangkok.
Some critics have complimented 4DX for bringing a new level of enhancement to key action moments, but they’ve also faulted the experience as a bombardment of stimulation that becomes exhausting as the movie wears on.
McGrath says with even the biggest action movies there is downtime between the major sequences.
“It’s not crazy motion for the sake of motion,” he says.
“Does it get tiring after two and a half hours? I think that will have a lot of to with the particular movie.”
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