Massawyrm says D-BOX theaters seats just might be worth the extra $8 ticket price!
Published at: May 25, 2009, 9:45 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Will D-Box change the way you watch movies? Will it revolutionize the cinema experience? Will it convince people to rush out to theatres rather than waiting for DVD? No. No. And no. It is however one of the coolest, theme park style rides you can find without having to go to a theme park. For those of you unfamiliar, D-Box is the new theater chair technology that gives you a motion experience along with the visual/audio sensation of a theatrical film. The chair sputters, shakes, convulses and careens along with the movie and adds to the experience of immersing you in the film.
It’s a HELL of a lot of fun.
Is it worth the $8 bucks? Yes. Very much so. $14-20 (depending on your market) is well worth the kind of experience D-Box has to offer…that is if this kind of thing is for you. It’s a roller coaster ride, a gimmick, nothing else. I don’t think this is something that is going to spread to every theater for anywhere near every film, but I do think most theaters will want to have a theater with a couple of rows of these ready for big, earth-shaking blockbusters.
My experience with D-Box was with 15 minutes of TERMINATOR SALVATION. This was the middle section when Marcus and Kyle are fixing the car that leads to a chase, the gas station and then another chase. It was pretty representative of what these things can do. The seats do NOTHING during quiet moments. Dialog, camera movements, small moments – these don’t get the chair treatment. The idea is to let the film speak for itself and never get overly gimmicky. But as soon as Marcus gets the car running the seat rumbled to life. It was the reverberating hum of a churning truck engine. It was a nice start. For the record, this wasn’t experienced every time a scene had an engine running. Just when it was integral to the scene - like a long dormant engine roaring to life.
Then the chase began and we were tearing off down the hill.
The techs recommended that we begin in the middle position, and this gave a great experience. I tried all four settings, the fourth being completely off. At any time – if you’re feeling sick, uneasy or just sick and tired of the seat, you can completely turn it off. The next setting is the lowest which I call “the rumble feature”. The chair just rumbles like the rumble feature on a Playstation controller. No movement. No jerks. Just rumble during explosions and smashes. The middle setting moves you around a bit. There a jerks, swerves and bounces. This feature is quite a bit of fun and probably where many people will settle most of the time.
The final setting is the big bad dog of the chair and where I had the most fun personally. This part was the theme park ride. When the car rounded the corner, the chair swerved and tilted. When the road was bumpy it bounced you around. It was a full on experience. And I LOVED this setting.
The weirdest thing about the D-Box experience is that there is no center of action. The sensation switches to the point of view of whatever is most interesting on the screen at any given time. Rather that feeling like we were riding along in the car with Marcus and Kyle, we also swerved and crashed with the chase bikes, flew with planes and Hunter-Killer drones, swerved across the highway with the tow cable…so while you were participating in all the cool stuff on screen – which arguably is the point – there was no grounding sensation to make you feel like you were participating IN the movie. Just WITH the movie. Not that this is a bad thing – but I think we might see some stylistic choices in the future that might go one way or another.
The process of D-Boxing a film takes roughly 300 man hours and they carefully program the movements to go with each frame of the film. A D-Box seat, when not in motion, isn’t nearly as comfortable as a standard high grade riser seat, so I’m not certain people will ever want to sit in one without paying the extra $8 ticket price to activate it. But it will do the trick if the show sells out and no one wants D-box.
I was allowed to bring several friends in to the test screening to try it out and the whole slew of them returned this past weekend to check out TERMINATOR SALVATION in it. They HATED the movie (I got an earful), but they loved the seat experience and all said they couldn’t wait to try them out on a better movie. As a hardcore film lover I’m torn on these. I’m not sure whether I want my first time seeing a film to be in these seats or sitting in a standard seat (as the filmmaker PROBABLY intended.) I'm leaning towards the latter. However, I would definitely return to see a movie I loved in those seats. I would KILL to see STAR TREK in D-Box, and I might return to give T4 another shot in them. If you enjoy these kinds of gimmick experiences, or like a good theme park ride, this is great thing to try out and give a shot if a nearby theater has it.
Fellow Austinites can check out TERMINATOR SALVATION in D-Box at the Highland Galaxy Theater (which is all digital.) There are also home units available for killer home theater systems. You can find more information, demo videos and the like here at D-Box’s own site.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.