Director William Castle rattled audiences when he installed buzzers in their theater seats for his 1959 horror film "The Tingler". Years later, theaters deployed Sensurround, developed for the 1974 film "Earthquake". Sensurround's large bass speakers created such intense vibrations Grauman's Chinese had to install a safety net to catch falling plaster during screenings.
Filmmakers have also tried to heighten the on-screen action with in-theater odors. Smell-O-Vision, used in 1960 with the movie "Scent of Mystery" featured 30 odors -- including brandy, flowers and gunsmoke -- pumped across the audience at key moments.
They aren't the only people working in the fourth dimension, and if their system gains traction, they'll have plenty of company.
D-Box Technologies out of Canada launched a limited amount of moving seats in North American movie theaters in 2009 with "Fast and Furious", and now it has about 100 locations in the U.S.
The theme park attractions 'Shrek 4-D' and 'Tranformers: The Ride' at Universal Studios Hollywood and 'Soaring Over California', at Disney California Adventure Park use similar technology.
At the leading edge of the technology is South Korean Conglomerate CJ Group, which operates Asia's largest theater chain and has set up a laboratory near Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to demonstrate and market its 4DX system.
The 4DX experience is wowing fans in South Korea, Thailand and Mexico, where CJ Group has 29 specialty theaters that regularly screen big Hollywood titles such as "Avatar", "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Prometheus", which featured the crashing spaceship.
Now CJ Group is close to finalizing a deal with a nationwide U.S. chain to create nearly 200 4-D theaters in the next five years, with the first to open in Los Angeles, New York and several other major cities.
CJ Group executives say its 4-D venues already draw sellout crowds from Seoul to Mexico City, and they predict that U.S. audiences are ready to shell out an extra $8 for the new movie experience. "Theaters need to find new ways to bring people back to the multiplex and away from their couches, and this is one way of doing that", said Theodore Kim, chief operating officer for the Los Angeles lab of CJ 4DPlex, operator of the specialty theaters.
4-D film is a marketing term for an entertainment presentation system combining 3-D film with physical effects that occur in the theater in synchronization with the film. Effects simulated in a 4-D film may include heat, rain, wind, strobe lights, and vibration. Seats in 4-D venues may vibrate or move a few inches during the presentations. Other common chair effects include airjets, water sprays, and leg and back ticklers. Hall effects may include smoke, rain, lightning, air bubbles, and special smells.
Welcome to the captivating world of 'Necroscope' 4-D!
Glenn Hetrick, (a childhood friend of Jeffrey 'Brick Bronsky' Beltzner), owner of 'Optic Nerve' Special Effects Studio, introduced Mr. Lumley and the Necroscope® Book series to Evolving Pictures Entertainment. Glenn Hetrick is responsible for the special effects on 'The Hunger Games', 'X-files', 'Mad Men', 'Buffy and the Vampire Slayer', 'Crossing Jordan', 'Babylon 5', 'The Chronicles of Riddick', and much more. Glenn Hetrick will serve as Producer/Special Effects on the Necroscope® Franchise. Mr. Hetrick announced on the Season 3 finale of SyFy Channels's hit make-up special effects show, Face Off, that the Necroscope® Motion Picture is his next big project.
For Director Ridley Scott's sci-fi movie "Prometheus", 22 year old programmer Catherine Yi studied the "point of view" of an alien ship when deciding how best to insert effects. In the crash scene, should the seats rock side to side or sway back and forth to simulate the ship's fall? How violently should they gyrate when debris and fireballs hit the ground? Should the giant fan in the theater emit one blast of wind or two? When should the canisters release the gunpowder smell?
"You don't want to sensory-overload the audience", Yi said, as she sat in her test theater near Grauman's scanning a computer that resembled a heart monitor. " You have to know when to draw the line and when less is more."
by Richard Verrier
As the giant spaceship crashes into the mysterious planet, the seats inside the theater heave back and forth and rumble like an earthquake.
'Back ticklers' in the seats thump as an astronaut dodges fireballs and rolls on the ground. A strobe light flashes and huge fans expel gusts of air reeking of smoke and gunpowder.
Evolving Pictures Entertainment is on The Leading-Edge of 4-DX Technology
The opportunity for fans to experience the Necroscope 4-D Motion Picture, Showcasing 4-DX Special Effects is generating world-wide excitement and enthusiasm, in anticipation of this Feature-Length, History-Making Presentation, which is destined to redefine the horror genre and reshape modern vampire mythology.
This is the story of a boy blessed with the unique gift... the ability to converse with the dead. As a young man, he uses his ability to seek revenge for the cruel murder of his beloved mother. In doing so, he is swept up into a web of international intrique, but he is not the only man among us with a strange ability... in the shadow drenched hills of Romania another young man used his gift to learn the secret ways of the Necromancer... and now Harry is the only one who can save all of humanity.
After a year of negotiations Evolving Pictures Entertainment successfully purchases the movie rights to Brian Lumley's Necroscope® Novel. The collection of Necroscope® books have sold Millions of copies world-wide. A fan base of this magnitude bodes well for potential box-office revenues on a global basis. We are right now working with writers to adapt the novel to a Full-Length Feature Motion Picture, the first of which everyone involved, expects to be a Multi-Picture Franchise Blockbuster.
CJ Group insist it isn't building theme park rides, and says theaters with its equipment offer a much richer movie experience.
In addition to the moving seats, it installs tiny nozzles that spray water, mist, bubbles, air and odors from a collection of 1000 scents, such as a rose garden, coffee, women's perfume, burning rubber and gunpowder. The theaters containing up to 240 seats, also have giant fans and strobe lights to simulate wind, lightning flashes and explosions.
4-D Movies: Next Big Thing for U.S. Theaters?
CJ Group of South Korea hopes to furnish nearly 200 U.S. movie theaters with equipment that will move seats, emit scents, and perform other special effects.