Is 4D movies the next big thing for blockbusters?

The 4D Immersion Theater, located at the National Aquarium, provided an experience, unlike any ordinary movie theater. Notably, the selection consisted of three 4D films to choose from – Shark: A 4D Experience, Being Dolphin 4D, and The Polar Express 4D Experience.

I decided to go with Shark: A 4D Experience. Although the film was approximately 15 minutes in length, it was one that immersed the viewer into the film.

In other words, the film included 3D viewing combined with special sensory effects built into the theater seats and the environment such as mist, wind, bubbles, leg ticklers, scents, enhanced lighting, and seat vibrations.

After the film, it made one wonder if the same experience exists with blockbuster movies.

4D Immersion Theater: National Aquarium
4D Immersion Theater: National Aquarium

What is a 4D film?

An attempt to 4D film presentations dates back to 1960 when the idea of Smell-O-Vision existed. Though it never became a widespread technology, it was the beginning of innovations towards 4D films.

According to Wikipedia, 4D film or 4-D film is a marketing term for an entertainment presentation system combining a 3D film with physical effects that occur in the theatre in synchronization with the film. Effects simulated in a 4D film may include rain, wind, temperature changes, strobe lights, and vibration.

Seats in 4D venues may vibrate or move a few centimeters during the presentations. Other common chair effects include air jets, water sprays, and leg and back ticklers. Auditorium effects may include smoke, rain, lightning, bubbles, and smell.

The decline in cinema attendance.

For the past 18 years, attendance at movie theaters has been on the decline. The highest peak was in 2002, but ever since, the number of seats filled at theaters has gone down.

Annual U.S/Canada Admissions: National Association of Theatre Owners Data shows a decline in admissions over the past 18 years with a high peak in 2002.
Annual U.S/Canada Admissions: NATO Data

There could be several reasons for the decline, such as consumers choosing the convenience of streaming services and cord-cutting to satisfy their movie needs.

In fact, leading streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon have premiered their blockbuster films directly to their platforms.

Also, the rising annual average U.S ticket price for 2018 is currently at $9.11, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. For this reason, consumers could be choosing to stay at home and watch their $8.99 per month Basic Netflix plan.

Of course, the cost of 3D films and more for your buck plans with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon provides more value. However, the experience of watching a 3D movie is now possible in a home theater. Ultimately, for much cheaper in the long term.

Therefore, cinemas must provide viewers with an experience that cannot easily be replicated in a home theater or living room.

Enter 4DX

CJ 4DPlex is a South Korean owned company that has been operating for over 10 years and the creator of the 4D film format 4DX.

4DX Logo
4DX Logo

According to their website, Movies are no longer confined to the screen. 4DX draws you into the movie as if you’re living inside its world. We provide the largest number of multisensory signature effects industry-wide. With 21 different kinds of signature effects, 4DX creates the most outstanding environment for movies.

Some of the effects are roll, sway & twist, pitch, heave, back shaker, rain, scents, wind, snow, lighting, rainstorm, fog, bubbles, air shots, and much more.

Currently, the technology is at selected theaters throughout the world. The locations within the United States are New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Pennsylvania, and more. The tickets can range from $25 to $30 depending on the location.

The selection of movies has not been upsetting either. For 2018, the 4DX format was available to blockbusters such as Venom, First Man, Gravity, Overlord and many more. Also, the currently highest-grossing film Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in a 4DX theater.

Conclusion of 4D Films

If movie cinemas want to continue to draw moviegoers into their seats, then they have to offer an immersive experience.

While the price is much higher for the experience, I believe that consumers will be willing to spend extra for the physical elements to make the movie more immersive.

While it was easy to adopt 3D technology into the homes, it is much harder to adopt the experience of a 4D film within a living room.

Consumers are looking for a reason to leave their couches, and 4DX might be the next big thing as it becomes more readily available at more locations throughout the world.

What do you think about 4D films?

Do you think the 4D experience will ever make it into our living rooms?

Comment below.


  1. I am not sure if I have heard of 4d movies but I will be checking this out further as we go to the movies at least twice a month.

  2. That really sounds cool,I’ve never heard of 4D movies.But now I’m really excited to see a movie in 4D 💗 (not a horror movie 😂)

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