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Is 4DX worth the upcharge? We checked out the potential successor to 3D

07.31.2017

4DX, Theater, Technology, Upgrade, Atomic Blonde

With the popularity for digital streaming and on demand services for movie watching, movie theaters are trying to find ways to stay relevant and profitable. With the recent news that IMAX would scale back their emphasis on 3D for traditional 2D theatrical presentations, what other options are out there to try and get butts into seats? For the last few years, we have brought you stories of a burgeoning upgrade called 4DX. Created in 2009, 4DX is a product of South Korean company CJ 4DPLEX. In the last eight years, 4DX has spread through Asia, South and Central America as well as Europe. Operating in 45 countries around the world, 4DX is still relatively new in North America with only 9 theaters currently equipped to screen the enhanced films in the United States. I recently visited the only 4DX theater in the Midwest (located in Gurnee, Illinois) to see what the fuss was all about.

I wanted to be objective of the experience, so I elected to watch a film I had already watched in 2D: ATOMIC BLONDE. David Leitch's thriller is not the type of movie that would benefit from a 3D conversion due to the darker composition of the film. I noticed that the films being released in 4DX typically align with what I would expect to see in 3D: tentpoles, action films, and CGI animated flicks. I was intrigued by the idea of what 4DX could bring to ATOMIC BLONDE which is dialogue heavy and features action scenes that would be muddled and lost in 3D. I also had just watched ATOMIC BLONDE one week prior so I was familiar with what would be coming in the movie and was on the lookout for where the cinematic enhancements of 4DX would come into play. I also brought along someone who had not seen the film previously to gauge their reaction to the experience.

4DX, Theater, Technology, Upgrade, Atomic Blonde

The first thing I noticed entering the theater was the seats. Arranged in pairs, the 4DX theater was equipped with captains chair style seats. The seats did not recline as many modern cinemas have adopted. Each seat comes with a footrest as the chairs are about half a foot off of the floor. Thankfully, the theater was arranged with stadium seating. Through the coming attractions, there were no 4DX upgrades. There was also no warning when the film started to alert you of what was to come. 4DX features movement, light strobing, air, scent and water effects. If I had not known what to expect, I may have been caught off guard while eating some popcorn or taking a sip of my drink. But, as soon as the opening logos began to play, the 4DX was in effect.

In a nutshell, 4DX turns a traditional movie into a theme park ride. As soon as ATOMIC BLONDE began, there was a flashing light that matched some of the headlights of a car on screen. I was prepared at that point to hate the experience. When a character began running, my seat began to rumble and shift in stride with the runner. When a car hit a person, my chair jerked to the side. Doors opening and closing were met with a vibration. During the fight scenes, as the camera jerked back and forth to capture the violent combat, my seat followed along pretty accurately. When Charlize Theron fired her gun or whipped a hose at an opponent, a burst of air hit me in the face. During a scene featuring a car hitting water, a quick spray hit me in the face. For someone wearing glasses, this would likely be annoying, but it made me chuckle as it was completely unexpected. My favorite enhancement came during a pair of sweeping crane shots that pulled in and out of the scene. My seat lifted and tilted in unison with the camera angle, adding a nice extra immersion into the scene.

4DX, Theater, Technology, Upgrade, Atomic Blonde

In the end, I found that the experience of 4DX was fairly subdued. This was likely because ATOMIC BLONDE is not the type of movie that would benefit from the full slate of features that 4DX can offer. There were a lot of moments in the movie where I would have expected scents to be pumped in or additional light effects. For the majority of the film, the 4DX enhancements were relegated to my seat vibrating during gunshots and doors being opened and closed. The seat movement was most effective during the fights as well as the car sequences. Leaving the theater, I enjoyed the 4DX enhancement more than my wife did as she felt it was a little gimmicky. Personally, I thought it was a fun twist and definitely an upcharge I would be more willing to pay than 3D. The biggest upside of 4DX is that you don't have to wear glasses and anyone can experience it as long as they don't suffer from back pain or epilepsy as both the movement of the chair and the light effects could be harmful to some.

4DX is not going to be something I would pay for every movie, but the possibilities are pretty wide open. Leaving my screening, I was already anticipating what movies like STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI or JUSTICE LEAGUE would be like in 4DX. Films like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise or even the upcoming KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE would definitely be cool to see in the upgraded format, but I don't know if I would shell out the extra cash for a movie like DUNKIRK or even WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. 4DX turns a traditional movie experience into a theme park ride. I felt it was much more immersive than 3D ever has been. Sure, the use of scent, water, and wind seems like it could be a little silly, but once you check it out, I am sure you will find yourself going back for more.

Click here to check out a list of theaters currently equipped with 4DX technology.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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11:09PM on 08/01/2017
DBox has been doing this for a while. Not sure I'd pay for it, but maybe
DBox has been doing this for a while. Not sure I'd pay for it, but maybe
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11:37AM on 08/01/2017
Fuck this bullshit, just make a good movie.
Fuck this bullshit, just make a good movie.
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11:07PM on 07/31/2017

A distraction?

What are you guys? 2 year olds? I saw Jurassic World in 4DX and it was fantastic.. its not something i would do as a regular going experience. But it is fun when you go with a group. Movies are meant to be fun, its not a freakin surgical procedure. Just enjoy the experience. My god, you people are boring.
What are you guys? 2 year olds? I saw Jurassic World in 4DX and it was fantastic.. its not something i would do as a regular going experience. But it is fun when you go with a group. Movies are meant to be fun, its not a freakin surgical procedure. Just enjoy the experience. My god, you people are boring.
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12:51AM on 08/01/2017
In no way, under no circumstances and with no possible added equipment...would anyone call Jurassic World "fantastic." C'mon...
In no way, under no circumstances and with no possible added equipment...would anyone call Jurassic World "fantastic." C'mon...
9:01PM on 07/31/2017

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12:49AM on 08/01/2017
Your neighbor polishes my shiny helmet for cigarettes. And then she lies about it. Sucks...
Your neighbor polishes my shiny helmet for cigarettes. And then she lies about it. Sucks...
8:46PM on 07/31/2017
Sounds awful. I tried DBOX once, it sucked also. I'll only see a film in IMAX nowadays if it was actually filmed in that format, even partially. I like 3D, and find that RealD in a Dolby Atmos UltraAVX theatre is a damn fine experience, just as much as a regular 2D film (saw Atomic Blonde today in that theatre today, it was really good); you get a far sharper picture than a "LieMAX" screen, and the sound is clear without being over the top. As much as I loved Dunkirk in 70mm IMAX, there were
Sounds awful. I tried DBOX once, it sucked also. I'll only see a film in IMAX nowadays if it was actually filmed in that format, even partially. I like 3D, and find that RealD in a Dolby Atmos UltraAVX theatre is a damn fine experience, just as much as a regular 2D film (saw Atomic Blonde today in that theatre today, it was really good); you get a far sharper picture than a "LieMAX" screen, and the sound is clear without being over the top. As much as I loved Dunkirk in 70mm IMAX, there were parts where it was just too loud
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8:18PM on 07/31/2017

Am a minority

Wow so many haters, but i think everyones entiled to there opinions, Me personally i have only seen one movie 'Dunkirk' and it was an amazing experience from start to finish, nothing was a distraction but i will agree it is a gimmick/noveltly and i would'nt do it for all movies
Wow so many haters, but i think everyones entiled to there opinions, Me personally i have only seen one movie 'Dunkirk' and it was an amazing experience from start to finish, nothing was a distraction but i will agree it is a gimmick/noveltly and i would'nt do it for all movies
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7:15PM on 07/31/2017
I saw Avengers 2 at the local 4d screen because it was sold out everywhere else.
Worst movie going experience of my life. The noise from the moving chairs, and the hissing air vents during "flying" sequences meant that I couldn't hear the fucking movie. I could only understand about 30% of Ultron's dialog throughout the whole damned movie.
On top of that, it was a shitty, tiny screen with low volume... and a premium price.
It was not just a distraction, it was a destroyer of my enjoyment all
I saw Avengers 2 at the local 4d screen because it was sold out everywhere else.
Worst movie going experience of my life. The noise from the moving chairs, and the hissing air vents during "flying" sequences meant that I couldn't hear the fucking movie. I could only understand about 30% of Ultron's dialog throughout the whole damned movie.
On top of that, it was a shitty, tiny screen with low volume... and a premium price.
It was not just a distraction, it was a destroyer of my enjoyment all around. FUCK 4d. Fuck it in its stupid ass.
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1:30PM on 07/31/2017
Other than the couple of shows seen at theme parks it seems like a waste. Why turn a movie to a what amounts to a ride?
Other than the couple of shows seen at theme parks it seems like a waste. Why turn a movie to a what amounts to a ride?
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1:04PM on 07/31/2017
I'm old school. I like to be engaged in the story and the characters in a movie. I dont want to have my seat move and scents blown around me. It just feels like a cheap trick and a distraction really. Was a ticket mentioned anywhere? Generally seeing a movie for two and a snack is like 30 bucks, how much more would you be willing to spend if these were all your theatre had.
I'm old school. I like to be engaged in the story and the characters in a movie. I dont want to have my seat move and scents blown around me. It just feels like a cheap trick and a distraction really. Was a ticket mentioned anywhere? Generally seeing a movie for two and a snack is like 30 bucks, how much more would you be willing to spend if these were all your theatre had.
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12:34PM on 07/31/2017
Sometimes it works really well, like feeling the rumble of the engines in F&F8, but then it can be a distraction at times with too jerky motions. I did work really well with Dunkirk though. I admit its pretty gimmicky and to be honest, when I go early in the day, I choose the 4D seats so I'm not sat near anyone else as I'm very antisocial.
Sometimes it works really well, like feeling the rumble of the engines in F&F8, but then it can be a distraction at times with too jerky motions. I did work really well with Dunkirk though. I admit its pretty gimmicky and to be honest, when I go early in the day, I choose the 4D seats so I'm not sat near anyone else as I'm very antisocial.
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11:24AM on 07/31/2017

Stop talking and no cell phones...

Only changes we need.
Only changes we need.
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11:34AM on 07/31/2017
Oh yes !
Oh yes !
12:17PM on 07/31/2017
And actually it is a simple thing to do. Just have the employees actually go around and check the auditoriums at random times. Now in most theaters you see the ticket taker and you may see some coming to clean the theater at the end of the show.
And actually it is a simple thing to do. Just have the employees actually go around and check the auditoriums at random times. Now in most theaters you see the ticket taker and you may see some coming to clean the theater at the end of the show.
7:17PM on 07/31/2017
I don't get why theaters don't have faraday cages in every screening room.
I don't get why theaters don't have faraday cages in every screening room.
11:05AM on 07/31/2017
It can be a fun novelty when you've got a group of friends but that's about it. One thing to beware of is the scents used. Something about them can just stay in your memory so you think the scent is still around for a day or so after.
It can be a fun novelty when you've got a group of friends but that's about it. One thing to beware of is the scents used. Something about them can just stay in your memory so you think the scent is still around for a day or so after.
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11:00AM on 07/31/2017
I think people who like this sort of thing will be willing to pay for it but not for me. Like Ernesto said below, i think it will distract watchers from watching the film. Personally I prefer normal IMAX (not the 3D IMAX).
I think people who like this sort of thing will be willing to pay for it but not for me. Like Ernesto said below, i think it will distract watchers from watching the film. Personally I prefer normal IMAX (not the 3D IMAX).
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10:40AM on 07/31/2017

Nope.

Get this shit out of here.
Get this shit out of here.
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10:23AM on 07/31/2017

4DX : just a poor man's theme park ride !

The multiplex I use to go in Paris has 4DX since a year, and even if my subscription allows me to go to those screenings for free ( I pay 21 euros per month and I can watch as much movies as I want with no extra charge for 3D, Imax or 4DX) I was never interested with it cause I already tried it in some theme parks around the world this short movies (i.e. Shrek in Universal Studios In LA), but finally I decided to give it a chance with a feature film and watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2. For me
The multiplex I use to go in Paris has 4DX since a year, and even if my subscription allows me to go to those screenings for free ( I pay 21 euros per month and I can watch as much movies as I want with no extra charge for 3D, Imax or 4DX) I was never interested with it cause I already tried it in some theme parks around the world this short movies (i.e. Shrek in Universal Studios In LA), but finally I decided to give it a chance with a feature film and watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2. For me it is to distracting of a feature film, I prefer Imax 3D. And some effects are not relevant based on the action (sometimes you get water without any link with the story !), so if people likes it, fine, but for it is just a low budget theme park.
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11:02AM on 07/31/2017
Yeah, I agree. It did distract me from watching the movie by way of trying to anticipate what the next effect was going to be.
Yeah, I agree. It did distract me from watching the movie by way of trying to anticipate what the next effect was going to be.
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