It is summer movie season and if you thought Hollywood had pulled out all the stops with 3-D and IMAX 3-D, think again. The 4-D movie experience could be coming soon to a theater near you.
What is a 4-D movie?
"It refers to physical effects that are coordinated with the images on the screen that involve your other senses," says media analyst and entertainment lawyer James Hirsen. "It is things like moving seats during a chase scene, the smell of gun powder when there is an explosion on the screen and during a spooky foggy scene you are surrounded by real fog."
Hollywood has a history of using gimmicks to attract audiences. The 1960's movie "Scent of a Mystery" used Smell-O-Vision, spraying a variety of flavors, like the smell of flowers, throughout to help bring its viewer into the film. In 1974, "Earthquake" used specialty base speakers to shake the theater.
The difference with 4-D is the use of advanced computer software technology to coordinate the effects and customized seats equipped with back, neck and leg ticklers, air blasts, and water sprayers.
These 4-D movie theaters are all the rage in South Korea, Mexico and Thailand, care of the South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, the largest movie chain owner in Asia. The company currently operates nearly 30 4-D theaters in those countries and in the midst of finalizing a deal to bring 200 4-D theaters to the U.S. over the next five years.
In 2011, total U.S. box office sales fell 4 percent from the previous year to $10.2 billion, according to the Motion Pictures Association of America. And while 3-D releases did rise last year, sales fell $400 million.
Hirsen believes 4-D movies will get moviegoers excited again — at least for the younger generation — especially since it is becoming easier to stream movies and watch 3-D movies in the comfort of your own home. But the cost may be a sticking point. The cost of a 4-D ticket is expected to be $8 more than the current price of a 3-D movie ticket.
CJ Group is currently testing its 4-D system in Los Angeles near the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
Tell us what you think! Would you go see a 4-D movie?