Designed to draw audiences into a film, like never before, 4DX cinemas have been in the UK since January.
Cineworld opened it’s newest in Crawley, last week, and invited The District Post to a presentation screening.
I felt a little anxious, as my husband and I arrived on the first floor of Cineworld, in Crawley. Canapés and Prosecco were generously served to the guests, who mingled a while before being led to the ground floor, where the ‘all new cinema experience’ awaited.
My first thought, as I entered the auditorium, was that the cinema still looked pretty much as one would expect. Then I noticed that the seats resembled those of a theme park ride and my inner child began to dance. As I settled into my seat, my eyes were immediately drawn to a glowing button on my right. This was a toggle switch, which gave me a choice between ‘Water on’ and ‘Water off’. I assumed that it referred to the spray element of the experience and I selected off, on this occasion. As far as cinema seats go, the 4DX chairs are comfortable, a decent size and fully upholstered, with the exception of the cupholder, footrest and, of course, the little button panel.
The idea of introducing special effects, to accompany a film, is not new, so I wondered what to expect from the evening. Although my dancing inner child was imagining all sorts of thrilling possibilities, I couldn’t help but conjure in my mind, an image of a 1950s movie theatre, in which, discretely placed fans and nozzles blew talcum powder and water spray over a motionless audience.
After a short introductory speech, the film was run… and what a ride my inner child was taken on!
To quote Cineworld’s own words, 4DX ‘stimulates all five senses through high-tech motion seats and special effects such as wind, fog, lightening, bubbles, water, rain and scents’. Barring bubbles, our screening had them all! During action scenes, air jets hissed from my headrest and from somewhere in front. Elsewhere, lights flashed and scents were released and, at one point, fog emerged from the bottom corners of the screen.
I was occasionally sprayed with the slightest mist from far away. This stirred curiosity: Just how much water would have landed on me, had I opted for ‘Water on’? With the film being 3D, would wet 3D glasses have become a bit of an annoyance, or added to the fun?…
Before I realised just how sophisticated the seats were, I believed, for a moment, that an unruly audience member was kicking me in the back! The seats’ versatility is impressive. Through a combination of 3 basic movements: Heave (Vertical movement of the seats), Roll (Sideways tilting of the seats) and Pitch (Forward and backward rocking of the seats), they can be programmed to ‘mimic the action on the screen’.
In case you’re wondering who, if anyone, works the special effects: A company in South Korea (where 4DX originates) painstakingly runs through each new film, frame by frame, and programs in every scent, spray, vibration, jolt and flash. All that programming is put to use in the cinema’s ‘plant room’, which houses the effects.
It’s important to note that 4DX comes with certain warnings and restrictions. For instance, it is not suitable for pregnant women or people who suffer from high blood pressure, heart conditions, back or neck conditions. There are height and weight restrictions, and the experience is unsuitable for children under the age of 4. The list in full, is available via the Cineworld website.
Crawley is the third cinema in the UK to receive the 4DX treatment. With a host of celebrity guests, such as Ella Eyre, Jameela Jamil and Russell Kane, the launch of the first 4DX cinema, in Milton Keynes, attracted the nation’s media. Cineworld then launched a second in Sheffield, before heading south, to West Sussex.
Home cinema installations are fairly commonplace, making it possible to recreate a decent ‘traditional’ cinema experience, in one’s own home. Even the added 3rd dimension has been available for some years. As yet, ‘smell-o-vision’ and rocking seats don’t appear to be in the running for tomorrow’s home viewing. There’s no telling what the future holds for 4DX cinema either, but I’ll hazard a guess that it’s here to stay.
For further information and 4DX bookings, contact Cineworld Crawley.
Review by May Pearson