For the uninitiated, 4D refers to theaters that rely on a series of synchronized effects so that audiences have a more dynamic bigscreen experience. As with a theme park ride, seats move, there are bursts of fog, mist and smoke, and various smells are emitted. There are a handful of 4D theaters in the United States, but they remain more popular in Asia and Latin America.
MediaMation’s initial foray into China will be at a Wanda Cinemas location in the city of Nanning and was initiated through the company’s partnership with Chinese 3D equipment supplier Luxin-Rio. Besides the Nanning build-out for Wanda, plans call for another installation in Nanchang for Jinyi Cinemas, another major Chinese cinema chain, this spring.
China is the second largest film market and is expected to bypass the United States as the highest-grossing global location by 2020. Theaters in the country are being built at a furious clip, and 3D, Imax and other premium cinematic experiences are highly prized. The country is expected to open 25,000 screens over the next five years, which boils down to 13 screens being built a day, according to a 2014 report by Redwood Capital.
“There’s an emerging middle class there that didn’t have this type of entertainment before,” said Alison Jamele, president and chief executive officer of MediaMation. “It’s brand new. It’s innovative, and the Chinese have more money to spend on this kind of thing than they did before.”
MediaMation’s co-founders say that they are working on deals for several other Chinese locations.
“Our business plan calls for 100 theaters over the next two years, which in China is a drop in the bucket,” said Dan Jamele, MediaMation chief technology officer and vice president.
The move comes less than two months after MediaMation announced it had cracked the Japanese market and was building three locations in the country. The company has also brought such theaters to Oxnard, Calif., and countries including Colombia, Mexico and Oman.