One of the reasons theater attendance has dropped over the past few years is because home theater technology has advanced to the point where it’s easy to get the theater experience from the comfort of your living room. Theaters have tried to counter that by adding better concession items, 3D screens, and other potential lures, but so far most of it hasn’t really worked and 2011 saw yet another annual decline in attendance.
Theater owners aren’t giving up yet, though. A company called Tremor FX is marketing a new theater seat – one featuring built-in actuators that will make the chairs rumble during action sequences in the film. Think of it like vibrating videogame controllers, only for your butt instead of your hands. We imagine they'll directly compete with D-Box, which seems to offer a bit more movement than Tremor FX.
Gizmodo says the new seats are easily implemented by theaters looking to make the movie-going experience more immersive. They’re no bigger than a standard seat, so theater capacity isn’t diminished (although, given a report earlier this week that says 93%-99% of theater seats go unfilled in an average week, maybe that doesn’t even matter…) and the whole system runs off a tower-sized PC that can be placed in the projection booth.
The tech works based on sound cues – so as the soundtrack volume ramps up, the seats begin to vibrate and increase in intensity. It sounds neat in theory, but we suspect the constant vibrating during something like The Expendables 2 would get old fast.
If chain theaters are really looking for ways to get people back into their auditoriums, maybe they should look to Malaysia. The country’s TGV Cinemas has released a photo of its new Beanieplex theater, which features these very cool-looking two-person beanbag-styled seats to go along with modern amenities like AC and cup holders.
Sure, the photo (courtesy of Gizmodo) looks comfy – but the reality is probably not nearly as cool. Beanbag seats in this country would just encourage amorous couples to get their freak on more brazenly in the dim auditoriums, and what happens in a sold-out screening when you wind up sharing an intimate and ever-shifting love seat with a complete stranger? Plus, just imagine how those things will smell after months of having food and soda dumped into them… Great idea, but not very practical.
What do you guys think? What kind of amenities do you want to see in theaters? What would it take to get you to shell out cash for the big screen experience on a more regular basis? I’m guessing the answer is a lot simpler than all of this and involves the words “better movies.” Share your thoughts below.