×

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

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.

Popular on Variety

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.

More Film

  • The Painter and the Thief

    Neon Takes Worldwide Rights on Benjamin Ree’s ‘The Painter and the Thief’

    Neon has acquired worldwide rights to “The Painter and the Thief,” directed by Benjamin Ree, which made its world premiere at Sundance, where it won the world cinema documentary special jury prize for creative storytelling. The film was produced by Ingvil Giske and executive produced by Academy Award winning filmmaker Morgan Neville. When two paintings [...]

  • Oliver-Berben-and-Uli-Edel

    Constantin TV, ZDF, Global Screen, Team on 'The Palace' (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Constantin Film, the No. 1 German independent behind the “Resident Evil” franchise, is teaming with German public broadcaster ZDF to produce “The Palace,” (“Friedrichstadt-Palast”) a period drama set at the celebrated Berlin music hall. Global Screen will handle international distribution. “Last Exit to Brooklyn’s” Uli Edel will re-team with Constantin Television, directing the [...]

  • Berlin: Embankment Rides With Frankie Dettori

    Berlin: Embankment Rides With Frankie Dettori Documentary 'Frankie'

    Embankment has launched worldwide sales at the European Film Market on feature documentary “Frankie,” the story of champion jockey Frankie Dettori, winner of more than 3,000 races. The film shadows Dettori for one season as, at 49, he looks to win a record third Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on Enable, his most beloved horse. [...]

  • Pathé Inks Major Pre-Sales on Emilia

    Pathé Inks Major Pre-Sales on Emilia Jones Starrer 'Coda' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Pathé has closed major pre-sales on Sian Heder’s anticipated film “Coda,” starring Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez and Marlee Matlin, after unveiling an exclusive promo reel of the film at EFM. An English-language remake of the French smash hit “La Famille Belier,” “Coda” is being produced by Philippe Rousselet and Fabrice Gianfermi at Vendôme Group, alongside [...]

  • Greenwich Takes U.S. Rights to Caroline

    Greenwich Takes U.S. Rights to Oscar-Winner Caroline Link's 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit'

    Beta Cinema has sold the German box-office hit “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” by Oscar-winner Caroline Link to the U.S. Greenwich Entertainment picked up the rights to the feature, which has attracted almost one million admissions since its Christmas release in Germany alone. German media lauded the film, calling it “a real godsend for the [...]

  • 'H Is for Happiness' Review

    'H Is for Happiness': Film Review

    More often than not, “A” festival competitions privilege the arty over the entertaining, so hats off to the Berlinale Generation section, where the two qualities frequently coexist. A case in point: the delightful coming-of-age dramedy “H Is for Happiness,” which provides feel-good entertainment for the entire family without pandering — and definitely without sacrificing style [...]

  • 'Jinpa' Review

    ‘Jinpa’: Film Review

    After roaming for more than a year on the international festival circuit, “Jinpa” — the latest effort from Tibetan director Pema Tseden (“Old Dog,” “Tharlo”) — has finally launched a limited run in U.S. art houses, where it might find an appreciative if occasionally perplexed audience for its idiosyncratic mix of deadpan wit and understated [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content