Movie Theaters Develop New Tactics To Save Dying Industry

Chains in the movie theater industry have struggled mightily since the COVID-19 pandemic, and now some companies are trying to revitalize how people watch movies in their theaters as part of an attempt to recapture some lost revenue.

Cineworld Group is trying to enhance the movie watching experience for people, making it more immersive by expanding their use of 4DX. That technology incorporates visuals on the screen with other synchronized things such as seats that move and environmental effects such as water, lightning, scents, wind and vibration.

CJ 4DPLEX developed this technology in 2009 as a way to make moviegoers feel as if they were part of the movie they were watching.

This week, Regal — which is a subsidiary of Cineworld — opened the largest multi-sensory 4DX theater in the world. That location, in New York City’s Times Square, has 296 seats, a screen that is 60 feet wide, eight shaker amplifiers and four fog machines.

There are also 30 rainstorm fans in the theater, along with 14 fans that are directly above where people sit — the first for any 4DX movie theater in America.

Cineworld emerged from bankruptcy just last year.

As Eduardo Acuna, the CEO world of Cineworld Group, said recently:

“We had an opportunity to do something bigger, something nicer, something cooler. And how do we bring people out? Why don’t we do the best experience where you not only see and watch and hear a movie, but also feel the movie.”

Another company that provides showtimes and ticketing information for IMDb, Google and TikTok, the Boxoffice Company, also commented on the development. The company’s president, Stan Ruszkowski, said:

“After the pandemic, theaters had to prompt film fans to reactivate their movie-going muscles, and they’ve been looking for new ways to event-ize the movie-going experience ever since.”

Companies that own movie theaters will continue to seek new ways that they could create an “immersive, unduplicatable experience that you can only enjoy at the movies,” Ruszkowski added.

Many people who used to go to the movies often ended up subscribing to various streaming services when the pandemic broke out in 2020 so they could still get a movie-watching experience. What ended up happening is that these people got used to the streaming services and stopped going to theaters even once the pandemic ended.

According to the Motion Picture Association, subscriptions to streaming services reached more than 1 billion in 2020, and then grew 14% the next year, reaching 1.3 billion subscribers.

At the same time, some big blockbuster movies have brought many people back to the theaters. Once such film is “Top Gun: Maverick,” which grossed more than $520 million domestically and more than $486 million internationally in just the five weeks following its release back in May of 2022.

It’s movies such as that that show the lasting potential of movie theaters, since they provide a movie-watching experience that simply can’t be replicated by any streaming service.