4DX comes to Toronto

Now you can smell what the characters are cooking

It is without question that the entertainment world has changed dramatically in the last decade. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix, there have never been more choices for consumers to enjoy media from the comfort of their own home.

Yet, there is still a certain joy in seeing a new motion picture in a movie theatre on the biggest screen imaginable. It provides a great escape from our hectic lives for at least a couple of hours. In order to compete with all the new distractions and emerging technologies, movie theatre exhibitors have been coming up with innovative ways to entice consumers away from their couch.

Cineplex Inc., the largest exhibitor in Canada, wants to help bring in a new era of movie going that literally makes audiences feel like they are a part of the action. Their answer? Cineplex 4DX.

Launching at the Yonge-Dundas theatre in downtown Toronto, the new movie-going format seeks to provide audiences with motion seats that combine with effects to enhance the experience in reaction to particular scenes. 4DX uses augmented technology to simulate environmental changes in movies, even scents.

Say, for instance, that you are watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the upcoming installment in the Star Wars series. All of a sudden it starts to rain in the film, and your seat synchronizes with the film in a way that makes it feel like you’re been caught in a rainstorm.

Sounds pretty cool, right? There is only one big issue facing 4DX’s future: cost. To see a movie in 4DX, it will cost you $25 for an adult ticket. That may be a tough sell to students and families, though initial numbers are encouraging. Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob implies that this new technology will please audiences enough to be willing to fork out the extra cash.

According to Ellis, since the experience opened on November 4, the plan seems to be working. The new Marvel feature Doctor Strange passed the first test, with Ellis commenting that they’ve sold out almost every 4DX show since.

While Cineplex’s 4DX experiment is a giant leap forward for consumer-product interaction, it isn’t new. The concept has been around for the last few years in countries like South Korea.

Some independent theatre owners, however, feel that these new upgrades and technologies distract from the actual movie watching experience. In a recent interview with the Ottawa Sun, Lee Demarbre, co-owner of the independent Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa, said, “People who are making these decisions don’t watch movies. Everything keeps changing and I like it less and less. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Despite Dermarbre’s pleas to keep to the traditional movie-going experience, companies like Cineplex continue to push the boundaries of theatrical enjoyment. As long as audiences are willing to fork over the cash though, they show no signs of slowing down.

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