Movie Experience: D-Box versus 4DX

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Monday Musing: Review of D-Box and 4DX Movie Theater Experience
Los Angeles, California
January 23, 2017

Today\’s Monday Musing is a comparison and review of the D-Box experience and the 4DX experience.  The week of January 9-13, 2017 I had the opportunities to see Rogue One in D-Box and 4DX.  I have already seen Rogue One several times (in Imax 3D and regular 2D), and it just happened to be a perfect week as Skywalking through Neverland was inviting fans to join them in seeing Rogue One in 4DX on, Wednesday, its last day in the 4DX theater.  The Regal at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles is the only theater to have 4DX on the West coast of the United States (the only other on the west coast is in Mexico City).  The D-Box viewing was a last minute decision on Tuesday, because of receiving a T-Mobile Tuesday reward for a $2 movie ticket via Fandango.  Getting a $24 (plus Fandango fee) ticket for $2 was too good to pass up.  The D-Box I used is located at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.
The thing to remember about D-Box is that it isn’t a dedicated theater as is the case with 4DX.  D-Box seats are just seats which move according to what’s happening on the screen, and they were only two rows in the particular screen I was in.  It’s important to sit in your assigned seat because only the purchased seats are going to be working.  The D-Box show I attended wasn’t in 3D (there were 3D showings also available in D-Box. You can adjust the amount of movement with the console seen in the photo below. 

D-Box control at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters
D-Box motion level control
I found the almost constant vibration at the beginning of the film to be akin to a massage chair and had to turn it down, because I was getting sleepy.  The motion is a vibration plus forward and back as well as right and left.  My feet barely touched the floor, but I felt that I needed to keep my feet (easily accomplished by crossing my legs at the ankles) off of the ground to get the full effect.  I did adjust my seat back to maximum motion just prior to the Battle of Scarif sequence.  The best part was the feeling of soaring with the X-Wing fighters. 

D-Box seats at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood
These two rows were D-Box seats.
The 4DX show was in 3D, and the ticket was about $29.  4DX has a dedicated theater because it is a full experience with fog machines (located at the front left and right of the screen), large wind fans, strobe light.  The seats themselves are connected 4 to a “section” which move together.  There is water squirting from the back of the seat in front of you, and the water is the only thing you can adjust (on or off only).  There are two small holes in the head rest which blow air, and a small cord at the legs.  These seats also have foot rests which I found to be very convenient.  The surprising thing is the back of the seats “punching” you in the back during falls or fight scenes.  At one point during the film,  I had slid down a little in my seat and the punch landed at my shoulder blade which hurt a tiny bit.  I pull myself back up into the seat better after that, and there were no more issues for me.  The blaster shots during the movie were enhanced by the air blasts from the headrests. 

4DX Theater seat at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live in Los Angeles.
My seat for 4DX
After the movie, we spoke with one of the employees who appeared to be in charge of 4DX as he’s the one who tests each film to make sure the effects are working and in sync with the film.  He said that the theater gets the program from 4DX and they have to merge it with the film, then test everything to make sure it all matches up.
While we talked with him I did notice that the ADA seats had seatbelts.  I had noticed earlier, that there were spaces for wheelchairs, but I thought it would be a waste to pay so much money and not have the motion effects.  So as long as one has an attendant to transfer to and from the 4DX seat and wheelchair, they can also enjoy the fun.  The strobing effect could be problem for those with sensory issues or those subject to seizures.  It was only one small light, and it wasn’t used too much for Rogue One. 

With both 4DX and D-Box being similar in price, it’s really a matter personal choice.  I do like that the D-Box seat can have the intensity of the motion adjusted, but the 4DX is a more immersive experience.  If you don’t live near a 4DX theater, and chances are you don’t at this time, I definitely feel like D-Box is worth a try for the right movie.  

What other immersive theater experiences do you think I should try next?

1/31/2017 Update:  A 4DX theater has recently opened at the CVG Cinema in Buena Park, California.