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Inside 4DX: Meet the Masterminds Making Movie Theater Seats Shake, Spray, Wobble and Roll

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When audience members take their seats to watch “Bullet Train” in a 4DX auditorium this weekend, they will be greeted with a choice. Within the armrest lies a small button that allows viewers to toggle between two options: “Water On” and “Water Off.” The device serves as a harbinger – and, to 4DX novices, perhaps a warning — of the full-tilt sensory experience that is about to unfold as Brad Pitt fights for his life against an army of opposing assassins.

With streaming and other at-home entertainment competing for consumer attention, 4DX employees see the format as an extra incentive to lure audiences to movie theaters. Korean parent company CJ Group first conceived of the technology as an answer to the question of how to innovate the moviegoing experience and make it more essential in the public’s eyes.

Over the course of “Bullet Train,” Pitt will get socked, stabbed, chucked and chased as he untangles a complicated web of conflicting hit jobs. Those who decide to see the film in 4DX will experience each movement onscreen as a motion in their seats, which shake and wobble to the rhythm of the action.

“We have what we officially call the three degrees of freedom — our chairs move with the pitch (a forward-and-backward rolling motion), the yaw (a left-and-right turning motion) and the heave (an up-and-down elevating motion),” explains Paul Kim, SVP of content and production at CJ 4DPlex. “Then there’s the vibrations and then we have 21 different effects across all of our equipment.”

The bells and whistles of a 4DX auditorium include wind machines, strobe lights, snow simulation (it’s foam), smoke scents and a device inside the seats that thrusts into the shoulders of audience members.

“I checked with our artists. They don’t call it a back puncher. They call it ‘the back kicker,’” Kim laughs.

With so many instruments inside each auditorium, it might be easy to simply crank everything up and put the room on full blast. But a 4DX experience isn’t a matter of sensory overload. Instead, each one is meticulously curated through a weeks-long process in Korea to align with and enhance the content on the big screen.

Each year, the group creates 4DX experiences for more than 30 American productions, along with 40 more titles from China, Korea and other local markets. Once a 4DX experience is finalized, the encoded instructions are wirelessly distributed to the company’s auditoriums around the world. They are then run off local servers within each location.

“There are two teams in Korea. Motion team takes the first stab. That takes about two weeks to finish. Then the effects team comes,” says Duncan MacDonald, head of worldwide marketing and theater development in the Americas at CJ 4DPLEX. “They work very closely with one another. This team has been doing it for so long and it’s really fascinating how they take a movie and they add the 4DX to it. It’s a very certain, specific talent.”

“I think a lot of people assume that this is done through an automated process. It’s not,” Kim adds. “They really sometimes go frame-by-frame to make sure that every effect, every motion, every vibration is correctly transmitted according to what you’re seeing on the screen.”

As MacDonald describes, “Bullet Train” is “a great fit” for 4DX. The film’s abundance of rock-em-sock-em fight scenes sends seats jolting back and forth. Heavy blows activate the “back kicker” in each seat. As bullets whizz by, gusts of air fire off near the side of attendees’ heads.

Brad Pitt and Bad Bunny in “Bullet Train”
Sony

But the use of 4DX extends beyond underlining the violence in “Bullet Train.” Some comedic moments get unexpected emphasis, such as when the image of an erupting bidet triggers a spray of water from the nozzle in front of each seat. Additionally, the film’s setting calls for its own environmental flair, from the occasional blast of wind to a more consistent light seat rocking that aligns with the sway of train cars.

Some filmmakers have become more invested in how 4DX is implemented with their work. CJ Group is happy to invite them into the process. Earlier this year, “Top Gun: Maverick” director Joseph Kosinski, “Lightyear” director Angus MacLane and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” editor Bob Murawski visited the company’s Hollywood screening room, providing notes that were then sent back to teams in Korea to tweak the experience. The office even welcomes writer-director Kevin Smith, who will occasionally swing by the screening room to watch new releases.

“We work with filmmakers or studio representatives to make sure that the quality is there,” Kim shares. “We worked directly with director Joseph Kosinski on ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ He was in our theaters, in our screening room, testing and making sure everything is to his vision on how the film should play.”

By inviting parties closer to the filmmaking process to collaborate, 4DX teams can better achieve the objective they set out for — immersion.

“If the seats are moving the entire two hours of a film, I don’t think it really takes advantage of what 4DX is,” Kim says. “4DX helps the audience feel that much more absorbed in a film. We want to make sure that it’s the right scene and we want to make sure that it makes sense when we use particular effects.”

After new releases leave theaters, 4DX auditorium instructions remain archived within CJ Group, in case films are rereleased down the line. The company also continues to explore opportunities to implement 4DX with older movies; Joe Dante’s “Gremlins” was released in the format over the 2019 holiday season.

The first 4DX auditorium opened to the public in 2009, with a venue in Korea welcoming moviegoers to see James Cameron’s sci-fi epic “Avatar” in motion seats. In the years since, the entertainment branch of CJ Group has dramatically expanded the format’s global footprint, with 57 theaters in North America and 783 worldwide. The company has also focused on another premium format — ScreenX, a panoramic auditorium that projects images around audiences with 270-degree screens.

While the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a tumultuous period for the theatrical industry at large, CJ Group notes that studios and consumers have shown more intense interest in 4DX as lockdowns have lifted. “Top Gun: Maverick” surpassed $50 million in box office sales across 4DX and ScreenX auditoriums — the highest grossing release yet across the formats.

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Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick”
Everett Collection/Paramount

“People just wanted to come out and experience something different,” MacDonald says. “4DX is something you can’t get at home. It is so different than a regular moviegoing experience. I think people were searching that out after the pandemic. We get our exit polling after every big title and there’s a huge positive sentiment as far as it being a fully immersive experience. Nothing too much. Not too many back punches — just the right amount.”

As popular legend goes, the 1890s audience first viewing the Lumière brothers’ “The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat” was so alarmed by the image of a locomotive barreling toward them that the room erupted in panic. Now, more than 125 years later, auditoriums are instead immersing viewers inside the on-screen train, as Brad Pitt sends it flying off the rails.



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Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Gets Key Holiday 2024 Release Date

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Paramount has scheduled its Sonic threequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, for a Christmas 2024 release, making for a two-year gap between installments.

Paramount has officially revealed the release date for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Based on Sega’s wildly popular action-adventure game series of the same name, the Sonic film franchise has so far produced two successful installments. Most recently, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 came out in April 2022, surpassing its predecessor’s box office earnings and winning praise for its pleasing visuals, blending of humor and action, and charming performances – especially the one turned in by newcomer Idris Elba, who voiced Knuckles. The movie also saw the returns of Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, as well as Jim Carrey, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, and James Marsden. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was announced by Sega and Paramount Pictures a month before the sequel premiered.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

Currently, plot and character details for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 are slim. However, the movie is expected to pick up from the cliffhanger ending of the sequel and introduce a new villain in the form of the notorious Shadow. Since Carrey has retired from acting, he is not expected to return as Dr. Robotnik, although the filmmakers have decided not to recast his character. Schwartz previously teased that the film is “going to be bananas,” with subsequent details indicating that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 will include elements from the video games Sonic Adventure 2 and Shadow the Hedgehog. Details on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 have been scant since, although now there is a major update.


As confirmed by Sonic the Hedgehog‘s official social media, the threequel has been scheduled to premiere on December 20, 2024. No further details have been revealed, but it’s nevertheless reassuring to know that the movie has managed to secure an auspicious holiday release window. Take a look at the tweet below.

Click Here to View the Original Tweet

The new release date for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 continues the trend of leaving two years between movies in the franchise, so all installments will hopefully feel evenly spaced out. Right now, the date confirmation doesn’t give much of an idea about the movie’s story, although it indicates that a similar announcement could arrive soon for the Knuckles spinoff, which will see Elba reprising his red echidna role. The Knuckles show will set up Sonic 3, so it seems likely that the project will start to move forward now that the movie has a release date. There is plenty of room for both over the next two years.


Now the question of how Sonic the Hedgehog 3 will resolve some of its most pressing dilemmas remains. The immediate task the movie needs to take care of is addressing Carrey’s potential exit and explaining how the threequel will handle Dr. Robotnik’s absence. In the games, Dr. Robotnik had a crucial role in bringing his grandfather’s Project Shadow to life and provoking the conflict between Sonic and Shadow. However, with Robotnik presumably not returning for Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the movie might choose to tweak Shadow’s backstory, associating him with Guardian Units of Nations (G.U.N.) instead of Robotnik. Additionally, with a premiere date set, Sonic 3 could also reveal other game characters that might show up in the film. That said, with a release in sight, audiences can expectmore exciting updates from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in the coming months.


Source: Sonic the Hedgehog




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Diane Keaton Reveals How She Helped Al Pacino Get Cast in ‘The Godfather’ (Exclusive)

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It’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which Al Pacino didn’t play Michael Corleone in 1972’s The Godfather. However, Diane Keaton says that producers almost went a different direction — until she was cast in the film.

Keaton recently spoke with ET’s Nischelle Turner, while discussing her new film Mack & Rita, and she reflected on her iconic career filled with beloved and uniquely quirky characters.

Going back to the very beginning of her film career, Keaton remembered how she was cast in The Godfather — and how little she ever expected to land the role that went on to be so vitally important to the film and its legacy.

“I auditioned for The Godfather having never read it and I knew nothing about it, and just was there, I was standing there like every other woman,” she remembered. ” I didn’t know what the hell I was there for. And they cast me in that role!”

While she had been cast, the producers and filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola were still looking for the right actor to play Michael Corleone, the reluctant heir to the Corleone crime family and beating heart of the entire movie.

“Nobody wanted Al Pacino. They didn’t want him to play that part, and I had already been cast,” Keaton recalled. “I had been cast before Al Pacino in Godfather 1! Is this not weird?”

“So I was standing there and they brought him up when I was standing there and we worked together in front of [the producers], and they gave him the job,” she continued. “Do you believe that? After he had auditioned before and they didn’t want him.”

“What would The Godfather have been without Al Pacino?” she added. “It’s just one of those weird, unusual things in life.”

Now, 40 years later, Keaton is still a leading lady with her new film, Mack & Rita. The film follows a 30-year-old writer and self-described homebody named Mack (Elizabeth Lail), who reluctantly agrees to go to Palm Springs for a bachelorette party for her best friend Carla (Taylour Paige). However, when arriving, Mack magically transforms into her future 70-year-old self, who goes by the name Aunt Rita (played by Keaton).

The actress opened up about what attracted her to the role, sharing, “There aren’t a lot of these female-driven movies, so we’re fortunate to [be able to do one].”

“And it is good, and it is good to do and be part of that. There’s not a whole lot of them,” she added.

Mack & Rita is set to hit theaters Aug. 12.

 

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John Travolta Pays Tribute to Olivia Newton-John: I’ve Been Yours ‘From the Moment I Saw You’

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John Travolta took to social media to pay tribute to Olivia Newton-John, his “Grease” co-star who died Monday at 73 years old.

“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” Travolta wrote in a post. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

Travolta and Newton-John headlined “Grease,” delivering two of their most iconic film performances as Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson. The 1978 musical, directed by Randal Kleiser, became a cultural phenomenon with $366 million at the worldwide box office. The single “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” performed by Newton-John, was nominated at the Oscars for original song. The film’s soundtrack was the second biggest album of 1978 in the U.S., trailing only the soundtrack to the Travolta-starring “Saturday Night Fever.”

Following the release of “Grease,” Travolta and Newton-John remained lifelong friends. The two often reunited to celebrate the movie. At a 40th anniversary screening for “Grease” in 2018, the duo memorably recreated their famous dance moves on the red carpet.

“We rehearsed so much in the three week period to get it right,” Travolta told Variety at the time about rehearsing for the film with Newton-John. “And you can see from the energy on that film, we were so anxious to get it right that I think everything — it was like going to school. Every day there was a regimen: song, dance, recording, rehearsing scenes, rewriting scenes. It was a big myriad of events.”

Newton-John’s passing was confirmed by her husband, John Easterling, who wrote on Facebook: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.”

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” the statement continued, “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund.”



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