4D film

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Drawing of a 4D theater

4D film or 4-D film is a marketing term for an entertainment presentation system combining a 3D film with physical effects that occur in the theatre in synchronization with the film. Effects simulated in a 4D film may include rain, mist, bubbles, fog or smoke, wind, temperature changes, strobe lights, scent, vibration and motion.[1][2] Seats in 4D venues may vibrate or move a few centimeters during the presentations. Other common chair effects include air jets, water sprays, and leg and back ticklers. Auditorium effects may include smoke, rain, lightning, bubbles, and smell.

Because physical effects can be expensive to install, 4D films are most often presented in custom-built theatres at special venues such as theme parks, amusement parks and zoos. However, some movie theatres have the ability to present 4D versions of wide-release 3D films. The films Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) and Avatar (2009) are among the films that have received a 4D treatment in certain theatres.[3] There are also mobile 4D theaters, which are mounted inside vehicles such as enclosed trailers, buses and trucks.

4D films are distinct from four-dimensional space. Notable historical formats for providing different aspects of a "fourth dimension" to films include Sensurround, and Smell-O-Vision. As of June 2015, about 530 screens worldwide have installed some 4D technology.[4]


The precursors of the modern 4D film presentation include Smell-O-Vision, which was used only once, in 1960, and Sensurround, which debuted in 1974 with the film Earthquake. Only a few films were presented in Sensurround, and it was supplanted by Dolby Stereo in 1977, which featured extended low frequencies, and made subwoofers a common addition to cinema.[5] Other notable efforts at pushing the boundaries of the film viewing experience include Fantasound, the first use of stereo sound, Cinemiracle and Cinerama, both widescreen formats utilizing multiple projectors.

The 3D film is always included in the 4D experience. 3D has been used in some form in film since 1915, but did not become widely seen until the 1950s. However, it was a niche format, and was not particularly successful. Beginning is the late 1980s, 3D experienced a resurgence, partially on the strength of IMAX presentations. It has continued to expand, albeit very slowly, to the present.

The Sensorium is regarded the world's first commercial 4D film and was first screened in 1984 at Six Flags Power Plant in Baltimore. It was produced in partnership with Landmark Entertainment.[6]

As of 2017, by far the most common 4D titles are attraction films located in theme parks. However, there seems to be a trend toward the installation of 4D equipment in more traditional cinemas, with developers such as 4DX, D-Box Technologies, and Mediamation competing for venues.[7]

List of 4D presentation systems for film theatres[edit]

The following is a list of 4D presentation systems developed for traditional film theatres.

Format Date Developer 3D Format Motion Seat Effects Remarks Notes Source
4DX CJ 4D Plex Stereoscopic 3D yes fog machine, strobes, scents, bubbles,
snow, water sprays, wind/air
D-Box D-Box Technologies Stereoscopic 3D yes none
MX4D MediaMation Stereoscopic 3D yes fog machine, strobes, scents, bubbles,
snow, water sprays, wind/air
4D E-Motion Lumma Stereoscopic 3D yes vibration, water sprays, air shots, scents,
wind, strobes, colour lights, fog, bubbles, snow
(Not named by developer) Red Rover Stereoscopic 3D yes fog machine, strobes, scents, bubbles,
water sprays, wind/air
Branded as Super 4D in Lotte Cinema installations.

Selected filmography[edit]

Title Year Release venue/Country Notes
The Scent of Mystery 1960 Specially outfitted general-release theaters Smell-O-Vision
The Sensorium 1984 Six Flags Power Plant, Baltimore, MD The first 4D film
Captain EO 1986 Epcot, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland Closed in the mid-late 1990s and reopened in 2010 as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson.
Muppet*Vision 3D 1991 Disney's Hollywood Studios Directed by Jim Henson
Honey, I Shrunk the Audience 1994 Epcot, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland Sponsored by Kodak, closed in all locations in May 2010 and was replaced with Captain EO.
Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time 1996 Universal Studios Japan Directed by James Cameron
Pirates 4D 1997 SeaWorld Ohio, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Thorpe Park in the UK, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Produced by Busch Entertainment, Directed by Keith Melton.
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man 1999 Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Japan, Water, smoke, strobe, and vibration.
PandaDroom 2002 The Efteling, Netherlands Same film released in other parks without 4D effects
SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D 2002, 2006 Six Flags over Texas, Moody Gardens, Shedd Aquarium, Adventure Dome, Six Flags Great Adventure, Movie Park Germany, Adventure Aquarium, Kings Dominion, (formerly at Paramount Parks), Indianapolis Zoo, Carowinds, Camden Aquarium (Camden, NJ), Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo and other locations
Mickey's PhilharMagic 2003 Magic Kingdom, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disney California Adventure. In collaboration with Walt Disney Feature Animation
Haunted Lighthouse[a] 2003 Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo
Shrek 4-D 2003 Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Japan, and Universal Studios Singapore Released in an anaglyph version as Shrek 3-D on DVD
Borg Invasion 2004 Star Trek: The Experience, at Las Vegas Hilton, USA Closed in 2008, to be reopened in Neonopolis, Las Vegas
Fly Me to the Moon 2008 Six Flags over Texas
Journey to the Center of the Earth 4-D Adventure 2008 Vibrant 5D, Raipur Stone Mountain Park, Dollywood, Warner Bros. Movie World
Fly High: The Legend of Black Man 2017 First Indian 4D Film; directed by Rahul Rathish Kumar
Avatar in 4D 2009 South Korea, Hong Kong
London Eye 4D Experience 2009 London Eye
Beyond All Boundaries 2009 WWII Museum, New Orleans Produced by Tom Hanks
ENERGIA The Spirit of the Earth 2009 Cité de l'énergie, Shawinigan (Quebec) Spectators are seated on a revolving platform. Features wind, snow, smoke, rain, vibration and lighting effects.
Marvel Super Heroes 4D 2010 Madame Tussauds London, Trans Studio Bandung[9]
Rabid Rider 2010 Cincinnati Zoo
Star Tours—The Adventures Continue 2011 Disneyland, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Tokyo Disneyland, & Disneyland Paris Replaced/Replacing Star Tours in all locations.Was updated in late 2015 to add an adventure themed to Star Wars: The Force Awakens[10]
Shalem 2011? Jerusalem Time Elevator, Jerusalem A 3000-year-old guide to Jerusalem's history at the Jerusalem Time Elevator, Jerusalem.[11] It includes moving and tilting seats on a moving stage, air conditioning and smell enhancements, along with a 'light and sound' show highlighting real artifacts. A similar system, 'The Time Mine', has been installed at the Timna Valley park near Eilat, and another at the main hall of the Herzl Museum in Jerusalem.
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 2011 United States, India, Canada and UK Smell was achieved by using scratch and sniff cards
Transformers: The Ride 2011 Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem 2012 Universal Studios Florida , Universal Studios Japan, and Universal Studios Hollywood 14-minute simulator ride, starring Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes and the Minions; setting is 1 year after the events of the original film in 2010.
Tallgrass Prairie: Tides of Time 2012 Flint Hills Discovery Center, Manhattan, Kansas Features wind, snow, smoke, and lightning effects[12]
Prometheus 2012 Cinepolis Galerias Guadalajara, Mexico
The Adventures of Tintin 2011 Nickelodeon Resorts, Paramount Parks, North Carolina Zoo, and Alton Towers 14-minute condensed version of the film.
Iron Man 3 2013 Korona World Theatre Nagoya, Japan,[13] Seoul, South Korea Labeled as 4DX featuring strobe lights, tilting seats, blowing wind and fog, and odor effects.
Rio 2014 San Diego Zoo, Kentucky Kingdom, North Carolina Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo 12-minute condensed version of the film.
Temple Run 7D 2014 India 9-minute ride to various Indian temples including Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Rameshwaram, and Dwarka produced by Modern Techno Projects Private Ltd.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 2016 Seoul, Korea and New York City, New York Labeled as 4DX including fog, wind, motion, rain, lightning, vibrations and scents.
Pixels 2016 Taguig, Philippines Labeled as 4DX including models, arcade, explosives, and shoots.
Mass Effect: New Earth 4D 2016 California's Great America 4+12-minute film, 60-foot screen with 4K resolution, live performers, wind, water, leg pokers, neck ticklers, 80-channel surround sound
LEGO Nexo Knights 4D: The Book of Creativity[14] 2016 Legoland parks and Legoland Discovery Centre parks worldwide 12+12-minute 4D film of LEGO Nexo Knights shown at Legoland, along with The LEGO Movie 4D Produced by Alexander Lentjes[15] for M2Film and Merlin Entertainments


  1. ^ Also known as R. L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse 4-D)


  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN03zZRHSHA
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Gtcjn4uvjE
  3. ^ Han Sunhee (February 5, 2010). "'Avatar' goes 4D in Korea". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  4. ^ Alex Ritman (June 21, 2015). "Will 4D Ever Catch on?". The Hollywood Reporter. (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Hauersley, Thomas (May 25, 2011). "…in Sensurround". In 70mm. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Zone, Ray (2012). 3-D Revolution: The History of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema. The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 143–155. ISBN 978-0-8131-3611-0.
  7. ^ Maddox, Gary (October 7, 2011). "Cinema with a new dimension". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Showcase Cinemas". National Amusements, Inc. 2017. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  9. ^ "Superheroes 4D: Trans Studio, Badung, Indonesia". Simworx. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  10. ^ Glover, Erin. "Star Wars Enhancements, New Experiences Coming Soon to Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  11. ^ Jerusalem Time Elevator Tickets GoJerusalem.com
  12. ^ "Immersive Experience Theater". Archived from the original on 2015-10-20. Retrieved 2015-10-13.
  13. ^ Marah Eakin (18 April 2013), Iron Man 3 getting sniff-worthy 4D screenings in Japan, Onion Inc., retrieved 28 February 2014
  14. ^ "LEGO Nexo Knights 4D: The Book of Creativity". Internet Movie Database. 15 June 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Alexander Lentjes". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 April 2018.