What is D-Box at a Movie Theater? Are D-Box Seats Worth it?

Since the inception of movie theaters, ambitious companies have been looking for technological advantages to separate their experience from the competition. This can be traced back to the sixties with the inception of “Smell-o-vision” and has only continued as the years roll onward.

With an industry now overrun with upgraded movie experiences, it was only natural that the immersion would spread to other parts of the theater that didn’t include the visual and auditory senses. 

D-Box is the natural evolution of immersive technology geared towards improving the overall experience of the viewer.

Naturally, this alternative format comes with a price hike and a fair bit of criticism, especially for the motion sick.

To see whether or not these rumbling recliners are right for you, let’s take a deeper look at what D-Box entails. 

How D-Box Started 

Believe it or not, this futuristic motion seating was not always the original intention of the company.

Starting in 1998, D-Box was originally focused on making high-end subwoofers almost exclusively. This was until several employees from D-Box took note that shoppers were placing their products around the perimeter of their couches, recliners, and chairs to create a simulated motion effect. 

This observation was taken into consideration and shortly after the beginning of the new millennium, they had their first iteration of D-Box seats.

The biggest issue with these products was the exorbitant cost to make each one, making it easier for them to sell to theater companies rather than to households. They continued to produce D-Box seats with mild success until 2009 when they appeared to find their stride. 

The company had been asked to use their motion seating in the first Fast & Furious film and also opened up their first D-Box auditorium in a partnership with Cineplex. Once D-Box started this downward sprint they seemed to gain massive traction throughout the industry, also working with Cinemark in several South American locations. 

Fast forward to the current date, they have several hundred locations in over three dozen countries across the globe. The technology has spread like wildfire from the theater industry, to gaming and household recliners. They have even started developing a simulation that mimics the experience of driving in a Formula 1 race. 

What is D-Box? 

If I was going to give you the marketing pitch, I would tell you that D-Box is a type of haptic technology designed with a focus on altering or intensifying the overall experience of a film, game, or simulated experience.  

If I was trying to convince you as a friend I would say that D-Box is a company that produces seats that can improve certain visual mediums. It can throw you forward, tilt you from side to side, tilt you diagonally, and several other sensory effects that are made with the express purpose of enhancing the film you are watching. 

You can adjust the effects of the chair in four stages of intensity from very mild settings to full blast. At certain key points in the film that calls for it, you will be moved in tandem with the action in a scene.

It works like a simulated rollercoaster that marches to the beat of the film’s drum. This is done by movies being coded into the movement technology so that the motion of the seat is accurately in tune with the action on your screen. 

Depending on which location you go to you could be in a theater with almost exclusively D-Box seats (though not all may be activated, since the added movement comes with a higher price) or just a few designated seats situated somewhere near the middle, typically. 

This technology is not only found in movie theaters, however, but it can also be seen in several virtual reality products, theme parks, home equipment, and more. There are several racing simulators, gaming chairs, virtual “rollercoasters” and even simulated training programs that utilize this unique product to get more captivating results.

So whether it be someone wanting to feel like they are taking the turns in real-time at a Nascar track or someone becoming an employee of Caterpillar, D-Box is quietly found throughout many parts of our society. 

Is D-Box Worth it? 

If someone asked me whether or not they should pay the added cost for D-Box seating, I would have to run down a few key questions with them before agreeing to a definitive answer. Are you easily motion sick? Do you plan to see a movie with a lot of action? Are you easily distracted? Did you eat food recently? 

The biggest critique I see of D-Box seating is that after an hour or more of being tossed around, folks have experienced bouts of nausea, motion sickness, and other internal discomforts that can affect their viewing experience.

If you are like me and feel like you are going to fall over after a brief stint on a merry-go-round, it is probably best to steer clear of these seats. They will trigger your motion sickness – especially at the higher levels – and will affect your ability to enjoy the movie. 

You should also skip the dinner plans you have prior to the movie if you don’t want to be slightly nauseous going into your film of choice. Several customers have expressed stomach pain and feelings of nausea from going to a movie with D-Box too soon after eating. This may seem like a minor nitpick, but a majority of families and couples tend to go out to eat before going to a film so the nausea-inducing D-Box seats may not be right for them. 

Outside of the consumer’s pension for growing sick, you should also consider what you are planning to see before spending the extra few bucks on D-Box seats. If you are going to catch the next slow-burning litigious drama that shows up in theaters, you may have more than a few objections to the moving chairs. Contrarily, if you wait for the newest Marvel flick or over-the-top action movie you will probably have quite a good time with the added motion. 

If you find yourself struggling to pay attention in movies or television shows and go between glancing at the screen on your phone to the film, D-Box may take you out of an immersive film from the jarring motions. If a film requires you to really pay attention and take in the minor nuances of the dialogue, lighting, actor mannerisms, or what have you – then D-Box is going to distract from that almost every time.

Reviewers have stated that while the novelty of the seats at first was quite thrilling, after an hour or so they began to take away from the film and take the reviewer out of the moment. 

The last thing worth mentioning is the added price. Checking numerous resources has proven that the added cost fluctuates depending on where the location is and whether or not the film is going to be in 3D or not.

With that said, the added cost of a D-Box seat will be anywhere from 4 – 8 dollars higher, or 15.99 to 19.99. This certainly isn’t going to break the bank but it is one of the more expensive options you will find at most cinemas in the country and it is exclusively for your seat to move around. 

For first-time buyers who have never experienced the seat before, I would say it is worth it for the new experience. For those who have gone through the programmed motions of D-Box already, I would have a hard time recommending the seats for anything that isn’t incredibly heavy on action and light on story.

The seats make a movie feel more like a restrained theme park ride, which can make most viewers miss some key points of the film. The D-Box chairs also lose most of their “shine” after an hour or two of experiencing them, making it hard for returning viewers to want to dish out the extra cash. 

I would recommend D-Box seats to people who have never taken the time to sit through a movie with seats that will quite literally try to throw you into the action and folks who enjoy a skin-deep thriller or superhero flick. Most consumers are unlikely to purchase D-Box with a majority of the films they go to see and even less likely to consistently purchase the seats at a surcharge that is difficult to justify. 

Conclusion 

Like all new bells and whistles that we come into contact with, it can feel really exciting to look into alternative forms of entertainment, even seating. Similar to most unnecessary features, after a while we start to wonder how useful they really are to the overall enjoyment of a product. 

D-Box is an interesting and very unique alternative to the standard film experience – but I don’t foresee people using the seating format often after their initial experience.

With that said, if you haven’t had the chance to try these jittery chairs out for yourself – it’s a fun experience for first-timers and worth the extra bucks to see what it’s all about.