The arrival of 3D technology has no doubt changed the role of cinemas in society over the past few years and now 4D cinema is being introduced.
The vibrating seats, tuned to the motions and emotions of films, promise to create a new way of watching movies.
Glasgow Cineworld is the first UK cinema to benefit from the ‘4D’ technology, with 35 seats fitted into one of their biggest screens. Over the next few months, seats will be installed in 30 UK cinemas.
The first film to be tested was Disney’s John Carter, a 3D action adventure film in space.
This leads some to consider the role of cinemas, which are no longer just film houses, but have been transformed into a venue for experience, more than anything. Like in the 1950s when there was a slump in box office receipts following the invention of television, cinema now faces a competitor in technology.
Now we are faced with many ways to watch films, on laptops, tablets and even phones. The ease of downloading films or renting them means fewer people are going to their local cinemas and so the cinemas have had to offer more, and different, experiences.
This is where the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and their 3D technology comes in. By providing different mediums and more interactive ways to view the arts, the arts and entertainment industry has been modernised.
The launch of 4D cinema and the cinema’s decision to modernise comes after a report in March saying that 3D films have not been as successful as film studios had hoped, reporting a slump in box office receipts for 2011.
Surveys say that most cinemagoers find 3D a bit gimmicky and expensive, costing an average of 30% above regular ticket prices. The new 4D seat experience will cost an extra £5.50 on top of the average £8.90 price tag for a 3D ticket.
Cineworld vice-president of operations Matt Eyre disputes that 4D is the natural progression from 3D, saying: “This is the next step. I think filmgoers are always looking for that little bit extra.”
The seats are already in use in the USA and Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, reporting good initial sales.
Guy Marcoux, a spokesperson for manufacturers of the seats, D-BOX, has said: “We are trying to reflect everything you would feel in real life without crossing that line of being like a theme park ride.” However, this process can take up to 600 hours of work per film.
Whether 4D film is the cinema experience of the future or not, this could be the thing to shake up the summer holidays.
Written by Flossie Topping