June 27, 2014 9:47am PT by Carolyn Giardina
4D Stakeholders Battling for U.S. Cinema Market
Two "4D" cinema theaters — that is, a theater that augments the viewing experience with features such as fog, rain, wind, scent or seat movement — open this weekend in Southern California
CJ 4DPlex and AEG unveiled a "4DX" 4D theater — the first U.S. installation from 4D company CJ — at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14 in Los Angeles on Thursday. And the first U.S.-based "4D Motion EFX" theater from 4D company MediaMation is set to open Friday at the Oxnard Plaza Stadium 14.
Seoul-headquartered CJ and Torrance, California-base MediaMation, along with a third company, D-Box, are all vying for the emerging 4D market and the U.S. is of course a key battleground. "The U.S. is very important to us as a strategic market — and L.A. is the center of the movie industry," CJ's chief marketing officer Brandon Choi told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the company started in foreign markets to refine the technology before trying to enter the U.S. exhibition business.
The 104-seat CJ theater at L.A. Live comes with an $8 premium, meaning that a general adult 3D ticket price is $26.80. General ticket prices for the 108-seat MediaMation theater are $21.25 for a 3D movie or $18 for a 2D movie.
Both theaters are opening with Transformers: Age of Extinction. According to Fandango, the first three L.A. Live shows sold out.
Currently, CJ's biggest markets are China, Korea and Mexico, but Choi expects that the U.S. will overtake them once there are more installations. CJ and MediaMation both said they are actively negotiating additional sites for the U.S., but they were not ready to identify them.
To date, CJ's 4DX systems have been installed in roughly 16,000 seats in 109 theaters in 26 countries. MediaMation reported 7,500 seats that have been installed or are scheduled to be installed in 122 theaters in 34 countries.
MediaMation's president Alison Jamele told THR that upcoming 4D movies that will be offered for their theaters include Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lucy, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Choi declined to name upcoming titles. Each 4D system is different, meaning each film needs to be mastered specifically for the system or systems that will be used to project the given title.