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CJ 4DPlex aims to deliver 4DX tech to 300 theaters

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Published : 2014-04-23 19:53
Updated : 2014-04-24 08:53

To many movie fans, “300” is a Hollywood blockbuster about an epic battle between the Spartans and the Persians.

But for CJ 4DPlex, the number has a different yet significant meaning.

For the CJ affiliate, 300 is the number of theaters worldwide in which it hopes to deploy its 4-D technology called 4DX that offers a new experience for moviegoers.

“We are going to hit critical mass once our 4-D technology platform is adopted at more than 300 theaters globally by the end of next year,” CJ 4DPlex CEO Choi Byung-hwan told The Korea Herald.

“It will be a point where the business can start to turn around and our 4DX has the potential to become a global brand that consumers can immediately associate with the movie industry, like IMAX.”
CJ 4DPlex CEO Choi Byung-hwan. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Choi broke it down like this: 300 theaters can attract about 1 million viewers per movie. With an average ticket price for a 4DX film at $15, this would bring sales of each movie to up to $15 million. This means that 4DX movies could account for 8-10 percent of annual box office sales.

At this stage, the company, which has been posting net losses due to increasing technology investments, will perform in the black, and its 4DX can become an “influential” brand, Choi said.

The company aims to increase the number of theaters that offer movies in 4DPlex’s 4-D from the current 100 in 23 countries to 200 in 35 countries this year by prioritizing its expansion in the U.S., the world’s largest motion picture market, through partnerships with theater operators, and movie producers and directors.

“We are doing a lot networking with Hollywood directors and major studios such as Warner Brothers and Universal, with hopes of not only getting them interested in making movies in 4-D but also possibly getting involved in film pre-production in the future,” Choi said.

It is set to introduce its 4DX with a “big” Hollywood summer blockbuster at Regal Cinemas in Los Angeles in the U.S. in June or July.

The idea of 4DX came from CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun, who suggested CJ CGV integrate the concept and technology of theme park rides with cinemas to offer a different movie experience.

This came as the theater market has been facing strong competition from the home entertainment sector.

Lee’s 4-D insight was also in line with his vision for CJ’s media and culture globalization, which was to encourage global consumers to watch one to two Korean movies a year; eat Korean food at least twice a month, watch one to two Korean soap operas a week; and listen to one to two K-pop songs a day.

CJ CGV carried out Lee’s 4-D initiative by spinning off the unit to form CJ 4DPlex and focus on perfecting the technology. The 4-D service requires more than 300 components for motion chairs and environmental effects that have to be synchronized with particular scenes for extra thrills.

Its environmental effects include wind, bubbles, fog, scent and short bursts of cool air, according to the company.

While 4DX was being developed, the CJ affiliate began its global venture in 2010, and made its first overseas deal with Mexico’s Cinepolis, one of the world’s top five multiplex chains, to start using its 4DX platform in 2011.

Cinepolis 4DX held the premiere of Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” igniting the director’s interest in making future projects in 4-D.

CJ 4DPlex CEO Choi said the company has established its foundation for technology and human resources, but will have to remain “thirsty” for the next big thing.

“We will have to continue pursuing both technology and emotional innovation by searching for the next thing that can offer audiences a different movie experience,” Choi said.

By Park Hyong-ki (hkp@heraldcorp.com)

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