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Cinema sensation: First look at Scotland's new 4DX movie screen

We visit Cineworld on Renfrew Street in Glasgow to get fully immersed in the added new dimension.

By STV News

Published 05 Aug 2016.

Screen nine at the Cineworld multiplex on Renfrew Street in Glasgow looks like any other with its 11.6m by 5m curved display and its 136 cushioned seats.

There is much more going on behind the scenes, however. This is Scotland's first 4DX theatre.

Described as "the biggest innovation in cinematic technology" Cineworld has utilised "high-tech motion seats and special effects" working in sync with any 2D or 3D film designated to the screen.

The special effects include water shooting out from the seat to mimic a spray or rainfall, scents sprayed out in the same way, thick fog from two big boxes in front of the screen and strobe lighting.

4DX originated in South Korea in 2009 and did not come to Britain until January 2015 when Cineworld and CJ 4DPLEX agreed a deal for exclusivity of using the screens in their chain. Five have been installed across England with Glasgow's 4DX screen opening for business on Friday.

STV News was given a preview of the 4DX experience and in our time trying out the screen we were shown three trailers of films from the past few years.

Jurassic World: In the two-minute clip for the Chris Pratt and dinosaur-led film there were a lot of effects on the back of the chair, with air pressure being put against the cushions as well as sound-based vibrations which worked very well with the impending footsteps of the main Jurassic threat.

Into the Storm: Just a few seconds into this trailer it quickly became very wet and very windy. It is not enough to soak through and leave you needing a towel but there is an option for "water off" with a button located on each seat's armrest for when it gets too much.

San Andreas: Almost ironically in this trailer, Paul Giamatti utters the line "people need to know that the shaking is not over". If only he knew. But it was used to better effect than in the JW trailer, with the fog machines and strobe lights adding to the tense atmosphere expected form a disaster flick.

Other effects were not used as much in our demonstration were a bubble machine (which could prove effective in movies such as Finding Dory) and various scents being sprayed as well including mountain grass, beef town (which isn't very nice on the nose) and ocean waves.

All of the aforementioned effects will be properly utilised across a full film with Suicide Squad being the first available 4DX showing from Friday.

Within six hours of the opening weekend showings being made available to book online three different slots across Saturday had sold out.

The popularity is likely to continue with upcoming remakes of Ben Hur and The Magnificent Seven confirmed by Cineworld for the 4DX treatment.

Justin Skinner, senior vice-president of marketing, told STV News the next Star Wars movie will also be shown in 4DX.

He said: "It's the thrill about coming to watch the same movie in a different way. It's been a phenomenal success in every other cinema we've rolled it out in and people flock to come out and see 4DX.

"I think 4DX brings a real multi-sensory experience to the movie so you're not just kind of watching it and hearing the phenomenal sound but you feel like you're properly in the movie. Customers love it.

"It's innovation in cinema with the fantastically large screens and fantastic sound with all the effects. There's so much more to add to the experience of a movie.

"There is a little premium but you kind of need to see it to believe it and realise it's great value and entertainment."

The popularity does not stop there. During the launch at Milton Keynes the Cineworld staff welcomed a couple who had travelled all the way from Amsterdam just to experience a 4DX screening.

The general manager of the Renfrew Street branch believes the introduction in Glasgow will have a similar benefit for interested parties, even if they are coming from a little closer to home than the Netherlands.

Mike Wiles, the cinema's general manager, said: "The box office is doing really well. What we find is that people are coming from far and wide all over Scotland including Edinburgh, Stirling and Falkirk.

"It is an experience, it's a wee bit more than it would be normally but it's a price that people are willing to pay for the enhanced experience."

There are a few small caveats though. No children under the age of four will be able to attend a 4DX screening and children aged between four and seven will have to be accompanied by an adult.

Seats for visitors in wheelchairs are available with seat belts included.

Because of the movement in the seats, there is a ban on all drinks in the theatre. This was originally only restricted to hot drinks but has been extended.

In the existing five British branches, 4DX has proved successful and maintainable enough to be sustained and extended so places like Glasgow are given the chance.

Mike and Justin both seemed confident that, although the experience is being reserved for flagship Cineworld theatres, it could be rolled out to other Scottish locations.