4DX theater experience celebrates tenth year

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4DX theater experience celebrates tenth year

Theater chain CGV celebrated the 10th anniversary of its 4DX technology by announcing it will bring the shaking, back-thumping and spritzing theater experience to 750 screens by the end of this year.

CJ 4DPLEX, a subsidiary of CJ’s theater chain, is also working on a new theater experience to lure subscribers of over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix back into theaters.

4DX technology is currently operating on some 675 screens in 65 countries, including the United States and China.

“We plan to consolidate our position as the world’s leading cinema technology company by operating 750 screens by end of 2019, capable of hosting 150 million moviegoers,” said Kim Jong-ryul, CEO of CJ 4DPLEX at a press event in central Seoul on Friday.

4DX offers 21 special effects like moving or vibrating chairs, and ScreenX is a theater in which certain scenes of a movie are played on the side walls. 4DX with ScreenX were first paired in 2017.

With the rising popularity of OTT services, which have accelerated in Korea with the launch of SK Telecom-led Wavve earlier this month, CGV has been mulling ways to get customers away from their home TV screens. OTT refers to content that is delivered directly to users over the internet without going through intermediaries like television.

“The theater is no longer just a place to watch a movie,” said a spokesperson for CGV. “It has become a venue for people to enjoy other content like watching concerts or hosting special events. We are mulling diverse ways a theater can be used.”

Netflix, which is leading the Korean OTT market, has seen the number of its subscribers jump to 1.86 million as of July from 420,000 in the same period last year. Wavve is investing some 300 billion won ($270 million) on developing content to lure 5 million paid subscribers by 2023.

Regardless of home streaming and binge watching, CJ argues that theaters will continue to thrive. But they will have to adjust.

“Instead of trying to abandon an industry that seems to be losing influence, the important thing is to find opportunities within the industry by offering something unprecedented,” said CJ 4DPLEX CEO Kim. He referenced Cargill, the U.S.-based agricultural titan that is utilizing technologies like the cloud, artificial intelligence and facial recognition to transform its industry.

“Theater chains these days are also finding opportunities to sustain growth. In the past, we concentrated on methods to maximize the number of people watching a film in a single theater, but our attention has shifted to enhancing their general experience,” Kim said.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]
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