We check out Dubai’s first multi-sensory cinema experience – fog, mist and all. Benita Adesuyan tries 4DX.
A night at the movies has taken on a whole new dimension as 4DX comes to Vox Cinema screens in Dubai. Some moviegoers are still adjusting to 3D, but the latest format promises a sensory experience that adds smell, motion wind, lights and even water effects to your outing.
A preview screening of Fast And Furious 6 in 4DX proved an exhilarating experience – though unsettling at first. Bullets seemed to whiz past, and audiences ride and glide in time with the camera, so viewers experience the film as the director intended. Though this movie in particular is predictable and schmaltzy in parts, what it lacks in storyline and script is more than compensated for in action sequences that allow the audience to fully experience what 4DX is all about. As cars spin and turn at break-neck speed audiences are rocked and bumped along with the action – your chair even gives you a little jab in the back during fight scenes.
Michelle Walsh, Senior Marketing Manager from Vox Cinemas, explains why Vox believes this new concept will take off in Dubai. ‘This city loves new things and they want the best of entertainment and technology. There’s a lot of investment in the cinema industry in the UAE and 4DX is keeping with the philosophy of cinema here – which is about always trying to create new experiences.’
Vox have invested US $1.5m, (Dhs 5m) per cinema to bring this experience to audiences in Dubai and if it’s successful here, they plan to expand it out to Qatar, Oman, Sharjah, Bahrain and Lebanon.
So how does it all work? Walsh explains that the creators of 4DX work very closely with Hollywood producers and shortly after a film is released the technology wizards go through the film and plot out where to apply the different effects. They then use computer programmes to synchronise the effects to what’s happening on screen.
The cinema theatres have to be completely customised to accommodate this new technology. The old seats have to be ripped out and new custom-made chairs put in. The audience sits in banks of four, and there are machines in the chairs which have mechanisms that produce the smells, mist, and fog – behind the chair is the wind, it’s all programmed into machines that match the action on the screens.
Not all films will work with the 4DX action, and there are some smells you’d much rather imagine than have waft under your nose – the smell of the forest in Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be much more engaging than, for example, the smell of Orcs in Lord of The Rings. ‘We select films that are 4DX ready and that have been popular,’ says Walsh ‘The movies that are being made nowadays and that are performing very well in the box office are action, superhero films and animation, those three genres of film work so well for 4DX, which is why this experience is growing massively in popularity.
‘We brought back some of the bigger movies from last year that we knew people would want to watch a second time, but with a different experience. So we brought back Fast & Furious 6, Thor, and Hunger Games. We also released new films such as Tarzan, 47 Ronin and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and the next two new releases will be I Frankenstein and Jack Ryan. We will be releasing brand new films for the rest of the year,’ adds Walsh. The movement and lights do take a little getting used to, but it is safe, and Vox screens a safety message in English and Arabic, making quite clear that the 4DX movie experience is not recommended for viewers who are pregnant, elderly, injured, or have heart, back or spinal conditions, and those with motion sickness, epilepsy or other sensitive conditions.
Watching your favourite action movie in 4DX will cost more than usual, at Dhs125 (for both adults and children – who must be over the age of seven to watch 4DX). This didn’t stop 5,000 film fans heading to cinemas for the launch of 4DX, a figure that far exceeded expectation.
So could this new technology be the start of the end of traditional cinema viewing? ‘I don’t think so,’ says Walsh. ‘Even I don’t want to watch every film like this but for the big ones I might feel like I’m missing out in terms of experience. Art house films, and films such as 12 Years a Slave would never work in 4DX.
‘A lot of movies are still made for the purity of the storyline, acting and directing capabilities and of course movies are made for the action and craziness of superheroes – I don’t think it will replace traditional cinema, but maybe complement it.’ Dhs125. Vox 4DX is available at Vox Cinemas Deira City Centre and Mirdif City Centre only. www.voxcinemas.com.