Bumpy start, but Cineworld Ipswich’s new 4DX screen is a helluva ride
- Credit: Archant
Entertainment writer Wayne Savage doesn’t ‘do well’ with anything remotely resembling rollercoasters. So just how did he fare at Cineworld Ipswich’s new immersive 4DX screen?
Cineworld Ipswich’s general manager Sam Prior was watching me more than the movie. Having confessed earlier that I “don’t do well” with sudden motion, he admits he wasn’t sure I’d make it to the end. I admit I thought the same.
My wife enjoys regaling anybody who’ll listen with the tale of how I sat, stone-like, beads of sweat forming on my furrowed forehead, gripping the protective bar of the children’s tea-cup ride at Alton Towers as it trundled around the virtually flat track so slowly you lost all sense of time.
I’m the perfect theme park companion. If you see somebody sat on a bench, book in hand, surrounded by bags and coats be sure to give me a wave.
Checking the long list of do’s and don’ts dotted around the cinema didn’t put me at ease. I started to wish I was the world’s first pregnant man, the only respectable out left to me at this point.
Introduced from South Korea, 4DX is considered the biggest innovation in cinematic technology. The set-up in the 136-seater screen seven stimulates all five senses using specially designed high-tech motion seats and special effects like wind, fog, rainstorm, lightning, bubbles, water, rain and scents.
Exclusive to Cineworld in the UK, a special code runs in tandem with the soundtrack to create perfect synchronicity with the action on screen. During Independence Day Resurgence we were treated to everything from the sensation of sitting on a gently rocking boat, complete with mist and sea scents to swooshing up, down, left and right - sometimes all at the same time it seemed - during dogfights in space.
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Shaun Jones, Cineworld’s head of operations, assured me earlier it wasn’t a throw-you- around, rollercoaster-type experience.
“Be open-minded,” he said, adding the extreme popularity of Ipswich’s IMAX made installing 4DX the next logical step. “It’s very precise to the movements of the film and you very quickly forget you’re in a moving seat. You’re just enveloped in the whole picture and experience of the film.”
He wasn’t wrong. At the start I lost count of how many times I turned to my wife - busy trying to turn the water spray feature off, me turning it back on when she wasn’t looking - and said “I can’t, I need to leave”. This was before the seats moved past the slight shudder setting. Every sip of drink, every attempt to find a fudge in my tub of sweets and get it into my mouth felt like the sort of challenge you see on the TV show The Cube.
Told you I was a wimp.
When looking away, then leaning forward and trying to stay loose in my seat - not advisable - didn’t work the thought of meekly walking past the packed rows of people having the time of their lives outweighed everything else. Manning up I turned my gaze to the curved 12.7m by 7.0m screen – think double-decker bus, but bigger.
I’m glad I did. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at the cinema, which is virtually my second home.
It feels like you’re sat in the pilot’s seat of a spaceship as it zips through charred remains of some of our most famous landmarks while your plummet from the moon to Earth on a spaceship, puffs of air simulating alien lasers whizzing past your ear so much you try to dodge them, a burst of water in the face representing an exploding alien.
It was an amazing experience, one I can’t wait to repeat. Strangely my wife, the rollercoaster rider in the relationship, was less convinced. Although she’s looking forward to being won over when we go to see Suicide Squad in August.
The system took about two months to install and about 16 days for 4DX to actually create the format of the film.
“We’re really pleased with the installation. Our motto is the best place to watch a movie and we want to give audiences the choice to be able to come to the cinema and watch the movie of their choice in various formats,” said Mr Jones, confirming you can expect to see the chain install more 4DX screens in the future.
“I can’t give you the exact number but it was a substantial investment - but it was something we wanted to bring to the Ipswich area,” he added, confirming the 11-screen cinema would be getting an upgrade in its IMAX auditorium, with new spacious seats installed.
Many big Hollywood Studios have adopted 4DX, with more than 300 movies including Captain America: Civil War and Disney’s The Jungle Book screened in the format so far.
Winning the cinema innovation of the year award from the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society in 2014 and the Elison Award silver prize in 2015 it’s been highly praised by famous film directors like Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron, who has showed interest in making future projects in 4DX.
Cineworld Ipswich is only the company’s fifth site in the UK to offer 4DX, the others being Milton Keynes, Sheffield, Crawley and Stevenage.
Mr Prior said more than 210,000 people have tried the 4DX experience with Cineworld since opening last year and the Cardinal Park cinema was absolutely thrilled and excited to be expanding its entertainment.
“There’s nothing like it in the area... It makes you feel like you’re part of the movie, it’s totally immersive. We’re always looking at the latest innovations in technology and with our offering now including 4DX as well as IMAX we are giving customers more choice to watch a movie how they want. We’re confident Cineworld Ipswich will be the best place to watch a movie. We’re currently booking for Star Trek Beyond, so that’s certainly going to work well. It’s tailor-made for blockbusters.”
Cineworld is already looking to the next generation of technology.
“I think 4DX is the top end of innovation at the moment, but who knew two years ago they’d be able to bring 4DX to the cinema so it’s anybody’s guess at the moment. Undoubtedly there’ll be new technologies and as they come hopefully we’ll embrace them,” added Mr Jones.