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'4-D' theater experience coming to U.S.

The South Korean technology plays with the environment and moviegoers' senses

By McClatchy News Services

POSTED:


LOS ANGELES » A South Korean company aiming to transform the way Americans experience movies at the multiplex is bringing its "4-D" theater technology to Los Angeles.

Seoul-based CJ Group, the conglomerate that operates Asia's largest theater chain, has signed a deal with AEG to open a "4-D" theater at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14 in downtown Los Angeles this summer.

The technology, called 4DX, combines moving and vibrating seats with wind, strobe, fog, rain and scent-based effects, all of which is synchronized to the action on screen.

The venue would be the first American "4-D" theater for the CJ Group, which has already expanded into Japan, Taiwan, Chile, Colombia, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.

"Los Angeles was the natural choice for us in making it the first U.S. location to carry 4DX. We wanted to bring this experience to where all the movie magic happens," said Byung Hwan Choi, CEO of CJ 4DPlex, a division of CJ Group. "With AEG, owner and host of the world's most exciting entertainment venues as our strategic partner, we are very much looking forward to welcoming our audiences to a moviegoing experience never before seen in the U.S."

The companies announced the deal last month at CinemaCon, the exhibition industry trade show in Las Vegas where CJ 4DPlex had a booth showcasing its technology.

"AEG is extremely excited to partner with CJ 4DPlex to bring the 4DX technology to America," said Nick Baker, senior vice president of AEG Global Partnerships. "We have been impressed with their success in other parts of the world and look forward to unveiling the technology at L.A. Live."

As the West Coast "flagship" of Regal Entertainment Group, the nation's largest movie exhibitor, the new theater will be within L.A. Live, the $3 billion sports and entertainment district.

"In just a few short years, Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14 has become not only the preferred location for blockbuster releases but the ideal venue to showcase the industry's newest exhibition technology, so it makes perfect sense that this revolutionary process be unveiled here first," said Shelby Russell, vice president of marketing for L.A. Live.

Since debuting with a 4-D screening of "Avatar" in 2010, more than 14,000 4DX seats are now operating in 91 theaters in 23 countries. In 2013, 4DX added 47 screens in 14 countries — Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela — compared with 13 openings in 2012.

The company had planned to debut its technology nearly two years ago, when it announced it was close to a deal with a major U.S. exhibitor. However, that agreement fell through.

If successful, the technology could expand to other theaters within Regal, whose largest shareholder is billionaire Philip Anschutz, who also owns AEG.

As with 3-D, consumers will pay a surcharge for the experience, although the companies said they were still studying the market and had not determined ticket prices. The firms will share ticket revenue.

The new theater will have about 100 seats. CJ 4DPlex typically invests $1.5 million to $2 million to build its theaters, depending on the size, CJ executives said.

Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times






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