Like the movie industry of the 1950s, which developed big-screen flourishes like 3-D and CinemaScope out of fear that TV would make moviegoing obsolete, the movie industry of the 2010s is likewise shitting itself with fear of being replaced by streaming services like Netflix. (To be fair, Netflix does appear to be coming for it.) So it was inevitable that in this, their time of need, theater owners would be vulnerable to hucksters operating in the mold of legendary showman William Castle. (Castle was famous for his movie-theater gimmicks like “Percepto,” which literally shocked viewers with joy buzzers installed underneath their seats during screenings of The Tingler.)
First among these is AMC Theatres. After sitting through a flashy presentation we assume involved silk scarves and a man in a pork pie hat, AMC is introducing what it calls AMC Prime, a “premium cinema offering” that will offer enhanced Dolby Atmos sound, the Dolby Vision laser projection system—which reportedly offers “incredible blacks and a contrast ratio that far exceeds any other image technology on the market today”—and, more importantly to our purposes, seats equipped with transducers that will vibrate along with the action on screen. (“They should’ve had that for 50 Shades Of Grey!”—hacky comedians everywhere.)
But that’s nothing compared to what exhibitor CJ 4DPlex has planned for what it calls “The 4DX Experience.” The experience already includes, according to Variety, “motion, water, fog, wind, air, lightning, bubbles, ticklers, scents, and vibration,” and 4DX is reportedly planning to add snow, rainstorm, and warm air effects, all of which will debut at the exhibition trade show CinemaCon. As long as this goes over better than Peter Jackson’s 48 frames-per-second 3-D that most people hated when it premiered at the 2012 CinemaCon, expect to be rained on indoors around the time Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel comes out.