Cinemacon 2019 Las Vegas had one unanimous viewpoint from Hollywood and the movie industry.  “It’s not just enough to put a movie on a screen and expect people to go, you have to give people a reason to have a night out,” said Daniel Loria, editorial director for Boxoffice.

As reported by Benjamin Brown of Fox News, “At this year’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas, companies like MediaMation underscored the importance of creating an experience for the viewer – showcasing their MX4D technology that makes moviegoers feel like they’re actually in the film.

Pictured is a theater equipped with MX4D full motion cinema chairs that spray water, drop snow from the ceiling and whip the viewer around as if they were in the film. (MX4D/MediaMation)

”The full-motion cinema chairs do everything from squirt water to blow wind in your face to tickle your legs, coupled with a new haptics vest that was debuted for the first time to exhibitors this week to add another layer of immersion.

“You’re not only watching the movie and getting all the great 4D effects, now you’ve got all of these other sensors,” Dan Jamele, MediaMation co-founder, told Fox News. “So you’re getting the bullet shots into your chest, you’re getting the vibration of the motorcycle going through your whole body. You’re getting everything right into you.”

Movie Attendance & Other Facts. Movie attendance had a record year in 2018, surpassing 1.3 billion tickets sold according to data from the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) as compared to 1.24 billion in 2017 (the highest since 1993). It is important to note that ticket prices have increased year over year and 33 million Americans canceled their cable in 2018. Meanwhile, digital streaming giants Netflix, Hulu and Amazon keep growing. The New York Times reports that Netflix is producing 90 original films a year as compared to only 30 movies by Universal Studios.

MediaMation partnered with Sony to create a haptics vest equipped with sensors to add another layer of immersion to the MX4D experience. (Fox News / Ben Brown )

“We have a very high occupancy rate hovering us anywhere from two-and-a-half to four times the typical occupancy rate in theaters,” Jamele said. “And on top of that, some of our complexes are doing with our one theater (equipped with 4D), we’re doing more than 50 percent of the revenue for the entire complex.”

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What this could mean?  Movie theaters are a significant sector of the out-of-home (OOH) leisure entertainment industry as are family entertainment centers. Both compete for household entertainment spending dollars.  Both are constantly using technology to raise the bar and gain market advantage. The movie theaters have introduced 3D, reclining comfortable chairs, surround-sound, dinner & a movie, FEC attractions, birthday parties and now introducing 4D with motion chairs and even eSports with promising results. Note that the movie industry has been increasing ticket prices and removing seating for the past dozen years in an attempt to stabilize revenues.

Meanwhile, the FEC industry has been using similar 4D technology in small footprint dark ride motion platform simulator attractions such as the XD Theaters from Trio-Tech.

FCDN also notes that 4D technology is very popular in international markets, particularly in Asia, but movie theaters have been slow in its introduction here in the US. For those theaters that have introduced 4D, the frequency of visitation has been almost 50% higher. We also are following the success of eSports that also is a competitive OOH growing sector. For example, the TCL Chinese Theater (Los Angeles CA) according to Robert Laity, Hollywood Esports CEO and one of the owners of TCL, now has the ability to “convert [their screens] between movie mode showing motion special effects movies, IMAX 4D movies, over to sports mode in about an hour”.  That certainly raises the bar!  

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