4DX is an attempt to create a new standard of visual entertainment — and they might have just pulled it off.
Have you ever been watching a film as the camera pans over a series of rolling hills during a particularly vibrant sunrise and thought, I wonder what that smells like? If so, that’s incredibly weird. Thankfully, however, 4DX is a perfect experience for you!
4DX has an incredible variety of effects that stimulate more senses than most people know they had. They have scented aromas that waft through the auditorium, fans to simulate high winds, creepy little ankle ticklers that shoot out from your chair, and much more!
If you are a movie enthusiast you have surely heard of this strange new sensory experience and now you can learn exactly what goes into it and whether or not it’s worth the price of admission!
What is 4DX?
We discuss premiere movie formats quite often at Swift Moves. So naturally, we tend to see a lot of overlap between various companies and their foray into the higher-priced movie experiences.
What gives 4DX so much room to grow is that they expanded their format in a far different direction than other examples like IMAX or Cinemark XD.
Whereas formats like IMAX and Cinemark boast their screen size, the visual acuity of their higher-end resolutions, and their surround sound systems scattered strategically throughout the auditorium – 4DX has an entirely different idea on the enhanced movie format.
In 4DX, you feel the shift of your body as a car explodes into the air, you can quite literally stop and smell the roses, and you can see bubbles tread past the screen as Aquaman does his subaqueous errands.
This bold attempt to capture previously unstimulated senses is the cornerstone of what 4DX is attempting to do, with a good amount of success.
It feels dismissive to not give you the full spectrum of this experience, so let’s cover exactly what effects come with this more expensive movie experience.
What are the Effects?
I have seen a number of reviews coining the 4DX format as “gimmicky,” which I think is not giving it the credit it deserves.
While it isn’t the first attempt at introducing other senses into the theater experience, it is the first format to do so consistently with any amount of real success outside of theme parks and virtual rollercoasters. There are some kinks that could be worked out, but the amount of added effects they have put into this feel great even if they sometimes miss the mark for certain seats.
The first thing worth noting is that they have programmed the seats to move in tempo with certain parts of the movie, meaning that every film you see in 4DX had to be individually adjusted to allow the chairs to react to the film. The chairs move with quite a bit of freedom as well, being able to roll from side to side, pan and twist side to side, thrust you forward and back, and even lift you up and down.
Additionally, they have a shaking and tickling device (it’s as unsettling as it sounds) that can interact with the back and bottom of the seats.
They have several fans and air vents located throughout the theater including the walls, directly in front of you, and on the seats themselves. This can trigger effects that range from shots of air to your face, extremities, and even warm air to further immerse you into the scene taking place on the screen. The fans are also powerful enough to simulate the feeling of high winds, although it does so at an intensity that doesn’t feel distracting.
If you want to relive a torrential downpour, a snowy afternoon, or even the feeling of a gentle misting across your face from a damp morning, they have that as well!
Thankfully, the rain setting is as contained as you would hope — no one wants to go to the movie to get a bucket of water thrown at them. The effects do a solid job of recreating the feeling of being caught up in a storm or in a gentle downpour without ruining makeup or carefully constructed hairstyles.
Speaking of unexpected weather, they have a feature to match every type of forecast that doesn’t include the eye of a hurricane. You can get light fog, a fog storm, lightning, thunder, heavy winds, and of course bubbles! This isn’t even including the several different scents that permeate the theater to match the atmosphere of the scene, from fresh grass, and sea breezes to the dry, stale stench of a dusty attic.
Suffice it to say that they have covered their bases when it comes to immersing the viewer into the experience in more senses than just visual and auditory.
What is the Cost of 4DX? How Does it Compare to Other Formats?
Like all premiere movie formats, you won’t be able to experience it without throwing a few extra dollars into the cost of admission.
4DX is certainly not the exception and in fact, will be one of the most expensive visits to the cinema you will have for some time to come. The cost of these tickets is higher than even the most expensive competitors.
At its highest price, the cost of a 3D 4DX film for an adult is going to be around 30 dollars.
A regular 2D film (which may be hard to get in 4DX depending on your location) sits closer to around 23 – 25 dollars a ticket. The closest competitor would be 3D DBox movies which cost around 23 dollars per adult ticket.
This doesn’t mean you can’t go see a 4DX film. On the contrary, I believe everyone should. What it does mean, is that you should reserve the improved experience for select films you really would like to see in this specific format and make sure you space out return visits.
I can’t imagine the cost of maintaining different scents with every screening, which doesn’t even begin to mention the cost of upkeep for water, wind, and fog machines.
So while it does seem absurdly expensive on the surface, the cost of one 4DX screening has to be substantially higher than a standard film experience. This justifies the price of admission a bit more than when we look at rival formats..
Is 4DX Worth it?
While everyone has their own subjective opinion when it comes to which format is superior and why certain cinemas offer less – you would be absolutely insane not to try 4DX once as a fan of cinema. Whether you think it is a gimmick with little to offer or the future of visual entertainment as we know it, it is an unforgettable experience worth witnessing for yourself.
With that said, there are some things you should avoid if you are going to see a 4DX film and the first is which film you go to see. If you are watching a deeper film that requires your attention, you should not experience it in 4DX. While the effects are immersive, they are also equally distracting and if you miss an important point in the film it could affect the overall experience.
What I do recommend are action films, horror films, and lighthearted movies with a lot of variety in the atmosphere to get more out of the sensory effects.
If you want to stay up for the rest of the week, go watch the next big horror film and enjoy the sensation of something lapping at your ankles with the smell of a dilapidated house wafting in your direction. Go see the next double-digit installment of Fast & The Furious and feel the shift and sway of your seat with the drifting sports cars — you have a lot of options.
You should avoid food prior to a 4DX film as the movement of the seats can be quite nauseating for some, especially after a big lunch or dinner.
If you are in a theater that provides beer on tap or drinks without lids, you run the risk of spilling your IPA across half the following row when your chair throws you forward. For this reason, try to schedule dinner plans after the movie and stick to drinks with lids when you are going to a 4DX film.
The last thing I would offer as a word of advice to newcomers to 4DX films, avoid the back like the bubonic plague.
Most of the effects are placed towards the front or middle and can feel far away and almost nonexistent when you are in the nosebleeds. The ticket prices for 4DX are not at all cheap, so try to reserve seating towards the middle or even slightly to the front to put yourself at the center of the action.
4DX is an incredibly unique and interesting venture into seeing how immersive a theater experience can really be.
With streaming services suffocating cable television and getting their own exclusive rights to several award-winning films, cinemas across the globe are going to need to step their collective game up to stay competitive or risk becoming obsolete.
4DX to this humble writer feels like a large step in the correct direction, just make sure to set aside a few extra bucks before you go!