The South Korean company that brought 4-D cinema to Los Angeles last year is taking its multisensory theater experience to the heart of New York City.
Seoul-based CJ Group, the conglomerate that operates Asia’s largest cinema chain, made a splash last summer when it opened its first 4-D theater in the U.S. at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14.
The theater has been so popular — executives say revenue tripled after the new technology was introduced — Regal has decided to expand its partnership with CJ Group to open two similar theaters in Manhattan.
The technology, called 4DX, combines moving and vibrating seats with wind, strobe, fog, rain and scent-based effects, all of which are synchronized to the action on screen.
The expansion comes at a time when Regal and other theater chains are investing heavily in premium services and new technologies to attract customers. While box office revenues are up this year, theatrical attendance in the U.S. has been declining over much of the past decade and theaters are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from entertainment options in the home.
“As a theater chain that prides itself on being cutting-edge, we at Regal are very excited to continue our partnership with CJ 4DPlex while growing the 4DX arena in the United States with these two launches,” said Rob Del Moro, chief technology officer for Regal.
The two Manhattan theaters are Regal Union Square Stadium 14 on Broadway and Regal E-Walk 13 in Times Square. They are expected to open by December.
CJ 4DPlex typically invests $1.5 million to $2 million to build its facilities, depending on the size of the auditorium. Customers pay a premium of about $10 more than a regular ticket price.
Regal’s decision to expand its 4-D offerings was motivated by the success of its theater in L.A.
The 104-seat Regal LA Live’s 4DX auditorium generated $1.7 million in revenue in its first year, triple the level it made when it operated as a conventional theater. Attendance also doubled during the same period, the companies said in a statement.
Since debuting with a 4-D screening of “Avatar” in 2010, there are now more than 23,000 4DX seats operating in 182 theaters in 34 countries.