First 4DX Theater in U.S. a Hit with Audiences, Data Shows (EXCLUSIVE)

First 4DX Theater U.S. Hit with

It jerks. It rumbles. It sprays. It smokes. It smells.

Now 4DX, the souped up theatrical experience that premiered at Regal Cinemas LA Live location this June, is outperforming traditional movie theaters, according to statistics shared exclusively with Variety.

The 104-seat theater, the first of its kind in the U.S., played to sellout weekend crowds and enjoyed a 63% occupancy rate regardless of the day of the week or the showtime, despite being unveiled right as the summer box office suffered a sharp plunge. Ticket sales for the summer were down 15% year-over-year, but the theater took advantage of its uniqueness in order to draw crowds. Most theaters operate at between 10% to 15% capacity.

“There was certainly the ‘new kid in town factor,’ but we’ve seen in other territories that we have three to four times the occupancy rates of most theaters,” said Angela Killoren, chief marketing officer of CJ 4DPlex America, Inc.

The technology has been around for some time, just not in the States. In 2009, a 4D version of “Avatar” was released in South Korea, which is where CJ 4DPlex’s parent company is based.

A subsidiary of a distribution and exhibition company, CJ 4DPlex provides the technology for 112 4D theaters in more than 20 countries throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas. Tickets Stateside cost $22 on average, but for that premium price, moviegoers get to kick back in motion-based seating in a theater that spays water, emits odors and jerks visitors around, all synchronized to the on-screen action.

Moviegoers seem interested in taking this particular ride. Over its 13-day 4D engagement, for example, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” generated $105,016 in ticket sales compared to a U.S. average of $44,054 during the same period. That’s an 138% improvement. Likewise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” capitalized on its action-heavy plot to deliver $94,247 in ticket sales in one 4DX location over its first 13 days compared to an industry average of $38,404. That’s 145% better.

To be sure, the higher ticket prices guarantee higher revenues, but the results are still impressive. Other films that got a 4D bump include “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which generated $46,203 in receipts over a six-day run in August, 49% higher than the $31,069 made on a U.S. per-theater basis. Same goes for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which racked up $44,361 over six days, 101% better than the per-theater average of $22,088.

Box office disappointments, such as “The Expendables 3,” also benefited from the extra bells and whistles. The action sequel racked up $22,604 during a seven-day run, which was 248% better than $6,494 per-theater average.

“Even films that were considered off their game or didn’t perform as well, did even better in 4DX,” said Killoren. “Those people who did want to see these films wanted to see it in new and exciting formats.”

CJ 4DPlex is in talks with other theater chains about building new outposts, but no deals have been set, Killoren said. For theater-owners looking for ways to make moviegoing a seven day a week proposition, 4D could be just the ticket.

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  1. marcomarkovich says:

    4DX is popular outside the US, personally, its distracting having the air jets behind you, seats moving, the fans above blowing air, the smells, smoke, and the spirts of water (which can be turned off), if you want to watch a movie still think IMAX is the best choice, still 4DX market is growing.

  2. Silly story headline says:

    Sorry to point out the obvious, but senses are not dimensions.

  3. les9 says:

    So will we be smelling actual farts during a Judd Appatow movie now? Who really wants their movie obstructed by floating bubbles and fog? The hilarious aspect of this article is that it doesn’t discuss the REASON why ticket sales are so high for 4D: first-time novelty. All these people are buying tickets because they want to find out if a movie is actually “better” if somebody is blowing bubbles on you or blowing wind through your hair while you’re watching it. My prediction is that those sales are one-time events and the audience will not be returning. And my suggestion is that if you really need the experience of somebody blowing bubbles on you during a movie, you could buy a bottle of bubbles and pay a 3 year old $2 to blow them on you while watching Finding Nemo– same experience but cheaper. You could also get another sibling to shake your sofa around during flight scenes– but I think you’d find that it’s just kind of distracting and doesn’t further the story at all. Or here’s a swell idea– have a bottle of bourbon on-hand for bar scenes so you can get drunk along with the characters! Is this really where we want to go with our movie experiences? Couldn’t we just…. I don’t know… write better stories to get audiences into a theater???

  4. Bobi says:

    Had this in Bulgaria for years. This is new for the US?

  5. george says:

    sensurround revisited “Earthquake and Midway”

  6. Jacob Hughes says:

    First in the USA? Universal Studios in Orlando, FL had a 4D show with moving seats,wind and water way back in 1992.

  7. John Barnett says:

    Shakes, blow air, and smells like LA, must be the Oval Office.

  8. nowaytoday says:

    now we all can not only watch obamas speeches, but smell the order of bs from them as well.

  9. Pat Boyle says:

    I very seldom go out to a movie theater anymore, since I built my Home Theater. I have a Dolby 5.1 sound system that literally shakes the whole house when I crank it up. I have 3D projection and a nine foot screen. I have chair shakers too.

    I don’t have the smell-o-vision system but I’ll be looking for it on Amazon in the electronics section. Someone I trust will be marketing a system for Home Theater if it catches on in these specialty theaters. It shouldn’t be too hard to implement. There’s plenty of room on a Blu-ray disk for a smell track. All you would need is a simple atomizer with a magazine of odor cartridges. The problem isn’t so much emitting the odor, I would think, as it is clearing the air for the next smell. Some kind of fan that vented outside should do it.

  10. I boy I can see a remake of Blazing Saddles coming.

  11. Ed says:

    Ever hear of Showscan in the 80s and 90s with seats that moves with the motion on the screen. Filmed in 70mm at 60 frames per second and projected in the same manner.

  12. Matt S. says:

    4DX: What a 21st century conceptual breakthrough!

    1950s 3D, 1960s Smell-O-Vision, 1970s Sensorround…

    What’s is old is new again.

  13. Ghengis Khan says:

    More beans Mr. Taggert?

  14. Notch says:

    Stink is NOT the 4th dimension.

  15. patron says:

    I’m going to take my soma and go to the feelies!!!

  16. YourNegroDictatorIsAHomosexual says:

    “Shakes, blows air and smells”

    Gee, exactly like your negro dictator does. Except he is NOT as entertaining.

  17. Mimimama says:

    I might go once, but if the offerings being shown are mundane, no matter how enticing the special effects of the theatre, I would not go back

  18. Defiant says:

    The 50s called…they want their smell-o-vision back!

  19. Jake says:

    I watched Captain EO in 1986.

  20. Ernst says:

    Maybe Tarantino can do ‘3 Weeks in a Helicopter’

  21. Mark Kiwiet says:

    Busch Gardens Florida has had a 4D Theater for years and years

  22. tadchem says:

    Every theoater I’ve been to in the last few years smells. I won’t go back to them. That problem may have something to do with the falling attendance figures.

  23. bobdog says:

    Disney did this 20 years ago at Disney World, and did a good job of it.

    Big Whoop.

  24. Hey they better not be using my patented idea that I’m trying to sell to Apple for my new “Smell-a-phone”.

  25. Gary Griffin says:

    If they think I’m going to a movie that smell like LA…..forget it.

  26. Rick says:

    The odor part reminds my of John Waters’ “Polyester” with the scratch and sniff Odorama cards. Methinks Waters’ first name choice was “Aromarama” which he found out was already owned by Michael Todd. the idea has been around a while, for sure…

  27. oldbill says:

    I read about the possibility for that in popular Science Magazine about 40 years ago.

  28. Lee says:

    I recall one of these 30 years ago in Baltimore. Pretty cool. Glad they dug up this tech again.

  29. jbspryjbspry says:

    “It jerks. It rumbles. It sprays. It smokes. It smells.”

    Long ago, when I was a young sprout newly arrived from the steppes of eastern Kansas into the Big City of Wichita, short of funds, without a home to go to at night, way down deep in the Kansas winter when the days grow short and the icicles grow long, I found a warm place to sleep for $6 a night at the Circle Cinema, a 24-hour porn theater on the corner of Seneca and Pawnee.

    It did pretty much the same thing, all night long…

  30. Sid Weiss says:

    i was in one of these in Atlanta. it was fun

  31. Attended one of these (years ago) in a historical Museum in Austin, TX. Interesting and it gets your attention, especially when they show rattlesnakes on the screen and you can feel one under your seat!

  32. 4D is nothing new. First time I went to one was at Mount Vernon about 5 years ago. Most recently, the National Aquarium in Baltimore has a number of 4D shows.

  33. For half of what they charge per ticket, I’ll sit next to you at a regular theater and fart and blow in your ear.

  34. tymwltl says:

    correction “at”.

  35. John Zych says:

    DIsney has been doing 4D movies for decades.

    Every park at Walt Disney World has their own 4D movie now.

  36. tymwltl says:

    One thing for sure, this country is the best a creating and living in a false and distorted state of mind.

  37. When they start showing movies in “feel around” let me know…

  38. Fugazi says:

    Captain EO has this at Epcot since 1986
    I went last year for its anniversary. Rumbles sprays of water smells were all there.

  39. Steve says:

    Surely this is not the first one in the US. My wife, son and I have watched at least 2 movies in Korea in 4DX already.

    Actually, I remember one in Universal studies a few years ago. Admittedly, that would have been concept, but after visiting that, then finding them in Korea recently, I just assumed there would be many in the US. (I don’t watch many movies, so a lot of time could elapse without me discovering something like that.)

  40. Broke AND paying Taxes. says:

    These are the same people in line at 12 AM for the new GOOGLE sex bot ….

    Is my large online wager.

  41. SSGTNELSON says:

    So they just pipe in the rich LA air? Pollution, gun powder, and cheap food. They don’t even need to add any sound requirements for action movies; just open a window. Exciting… I guess.

  42. Lyle Petersen says:

    Are we pretending that selling out a 110 seat auditorium is a big deal now?

  43. Sixlemons@comcast.net says:

    How about just writing and filming good movies… Ya know? Something new…

  44. Jacques Strappe says:

    Can a re-release of The Tingler be far off?

  45. David Michael says:

    WOW! Decades old Tech that has been around the Amusement Parks, County Fair Circuits and other popular places makes it to a “traditional” theater and it is now new… LOL!!!

    Also, didn’t the Anaheim GardenWalk Theaters have a theater with the Motion Seats when it opened….

  46. Eric Blair says:

    1st dimension – length.
    2nd dimension – height.
    3rd dimension – width.
    4th dimension – time.

    Or did you just get off the Time Masheen from Costco?

  47. Demetrios says:

    Of course The Sensorium at The Power Plant in Baltimore did this over 25 years ago. Anyone else remember it?

  48. Ricardo Otero says:

    Charge more, make more… charge $22 compared to $7 a ticket, it does not matter if the movie stinks, It will still suck in 4DX. I will not spend $22 to see it…..

  49. Mary H. Kendzicky says:

    Does the theater smell like vomit? That’s not hard to do; most Atlanta theaters already smell like that.

  50. Norman Wallerstein says:

    Didn’t Hollywood try something like this in the 1970’s for the movie EARTHQUAKE? IT WAS CALLED “SENSURROUND”.

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