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Seats That Move With the Onscreen Action Lift Revenue for Los Angeles Theater

New York Times (June 22, 2015)

LOS ANGELES - As American movie theater chains look for ways to increase profits, a Regal Cinemas location here has hit by removing standard seats and replacing them with ones that move with the film, using a technology called 4DX.

Since opening a year ago, Regal’s converted 4DX auditorium in downtown Los Angeles ? whose seats move along with the action on the screen ? has attracted 70,000 customers and generated $1.5 million in ticket sales, the location’s owners said on Tuesday. That represents an 88 percent increase in attendance and triple the ticket revenue compared with the year before, when the 104-seat cinema was operated as a standard movie theater. Tickets now sell for an $8 premium, or as much as $23.50.

The 4DX theater’s performance on weekdays, when low turnout bedevils exhibition chains, was particularly strong, according to the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the theater. The billionaire Philip Anschutz is also a major stakeholder in the Regal Entertainment Group, the No. 1 exhibitor in the United States.

The 4DX technology was developed by CJ 4DPlex, a South Korean company.

Audiences overseas, particularly in Asia, have embraced the idea of seats that move ? scents, fog and even simulated rain are sometimes also added ? but Americans have traditionally viewed the machinery as more appropriate for a theme park.

After successfully introducing the technology to markets in South America and Russia, “it’s thrilling to see the success it’s having in the influential U.S. market,” Mark Shaw, chief executive of CJ 4DPlex America, said in a statement.