Remember when it was a good enough gimmick for threequels to be in 3D? It fit the number in the title so perfectly. But it's not a big deal for the new Iron Man movie to be released as "Iron Man 3D." So it's going up a level and embracing the fourth dimension. Actually, that's just time, which it already features. In the movie industry sense, "4D" has no Cartesian or otherwise scientific precedence. It's just a label for added sensory experiences. For instance, Iron Man 3 in 4D, which debuts in Japan next month, includes the 3D attraction plus motion seats, wind and fog effects and, most attractively, the return of odor-infused exhibition à la Smell-O-Vision.
The idea of movies supplemented with scents has been around for more than a century and has rarely been thought a good one. However, I did recently hear about how the Les Blank nonfiction short Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers was screened with garlic being cooked in the back of the auditorium. Because it's set in Berkeley, the fog effect would also be fitting. And the motion seats could be employed during a scene when the filmmaker is riding in a car with Werner Herzog. not necessarily because the car is in motion but just because it's Herzog, and why not add more craziness?
Jokes aside, though, and that also goes for making cracks about titles we definitely don't want to smell or be shaken up during, there's no reason to totally dismiss the 4D concept. For one thing, I'm surprised the adult-film industry hasn't embraced the technology as a way of restarting the theatrical porn business (combining XXX movies and theme park rides is really the logical evolution for Times Square). For another, the criticisms about this sort of thing being only suited for amusement parks is absurd. Or am I the only person who wished to see Captain EO and many other Disneyland and Universal Studios attractions without having to make a whole vacation out of it? There's no way 4D will ever be the exclusive way to see a movie like Iron Man 3, I don't think, but there is a chance that it will be a popular choice for certain moviegoers who are into that experience.
As for what movies seem like a good fit, September's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 would be a perfect introductory title if 4DX (the company we shared a commercial for a while back which is now expanding to Japan) finally makes its way to the U.S. this year. But I'd prefer to try it with a movie I've already seen since it's likely to be distracting. A whole bunch of movies have already been enhanced with 4DX since its debut in South Korea in 2009, including the first two Iron Man movies and Life of Pi, which is the most appealing sounding for a lot of the gimmick elements. It's kind of surprising the recent Jurassic Park 3D rerelease wasn't also put out in 4DX theaters. Wouldn't it be fun to experience the movie, which you already know by heart, with mist spraying at you during the rainy scenes and the (imagined-up) odor of velociraptors adding to the suspense?
Which films would you like to see rereleased in 4D?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter: