Evidently films presented in stereoscopic 3D just aren’t enough these days. Though 3D hasn’t revolutioned cinema or the box-office quite like Hollywood hoped — look at “The Amazing Spider-Man” which has had an impressive opening, but inflation and 3D prices still can’t match the old series’ opening weekends — it’s not going anywhere and it’s still going to be an excellent financial pad for generally entertaining four quadrant films (see “The Avengers,” which showed it can greatly boost a runaway hit, but was hardly the sole reason behinf the film’s success).
Nevertheless, in the latest venture to allure moviegoers, entertainment companies are trying to step up their game with what we assume has to be the next logical step: 4D. According to the L.A. Times, South Korean conglomerate company CJ Group is finalizing a deal with a nationwide U.S. chain to create nearly 200 4D theaters in the next five years. The first theaters to open this year will be in Los Angeles, New York and several other major cities. CJ Group operates Asia’s largest theater chain, and evidently have set up shop in L.A. to market and demonstrade the 4D technology.
Before you say that Robert Rodriguez already pioneered this first with the 4D “technology” of “Spy Kids: All the Time in the World,” which employed “Aromascope” that allowed audiences to smell odors and aromas from the film via scratch and sniff cards reminiscent of the infamous 1960s “Smell-O-Vision,” CJ Group’s gimmick is a bit more involved. 4D attempts to be much less lo-tech, utilizing seats that rumble (Canadian company D-Box already has a number of these in theaters), strobe lights that flash and even blind the audience, plus gusts of air and smoke, and even water spray, that expels within the theater. 4D is apparently already a hit in places like Seoul and Mexico City and CJ Group is banking that U.S. audiences will be willing to shell out an additional $8 on top of the regular ticket for their 4D experience.
But will audiences go for it? 3D is already a huge ticket inflater and we’ll tell you right now, if we’re actually paying for tickets, we’ll take 2D thank you very much (3D technology has gotten to the point where it’s tolerable and not distracting, but it’s rare that it improves the experience, “Hugo” and “Avatar” aside). Are Americans, some already feeling gipped by 3D prices, going to spend their well-earned money on 4D? Call us skeptics, but we’d guess no, but then again with huge amounts of disposable income, well, they’ll try anything at least once. Frankly, for us it sounds like the fad to end all fads, even more ludicrous than the gimmicky Secret Cinema screenings that are currently making headlines, but maybe we’re just not the intended target audience. Thoughts? You willing to shell out an extra $8 on top of the already, rather-enormous popcorn-going prices? Do you really want to watch a movie with strobe lights, smoke and vibrating seats? Discuss.