1974: “Sensurround,” which added massive low-range speakers to movie theaters, debuts with the film Earthquake. The vibrations caused by the bass sound effects attempt to recreate the feeling of being in an earthquake. The film is a success, but Sensurround is only used in four more movies thereafter.

1981: Director John Waters releases Polyester, a black comedy featuring a new sensory experience he calls “Odorama,” inspired by Smell-O-Vision. Moviegoers are given scratch and sniff cards that correspond with moments in the film. On the film’s DVD commentary (released in 2004), Waters boasts that he “actually got the audience to pay to smell shit.”

1984: The “Sensorium” opens at a Six Flags theme park in Baltimore and is called the first true 4D movie theater. It’s complete with rumbling seats and various theater-filling scents.

1991: Muppet Vision 3D debuts at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. The show features in-theater Muppet animatronics and soap bubbles.

disney muppet vision 3D
Disney’s Muppet Vision 3D.
Image: Disney

1994: Honey, I Shrunk the Audience! opens at Epcot, also at Disney World. Based on the popular Disney film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the 4D movie “shrinks” the audience, who are on a moving platform.

2009: The first 4DX theater debuts in South Korea. In 2010, after the theater screens James Cameron’s Avatar in 4D, the technology expands throughout Asia, and later into Mexico and Brazil.

2011: D-Box vibrating, motion chairs are installed in several theaters around the world.

2011: Merlin Entertainments, the company behind Legoland theme parks, opens a 4D cinema at the Sydney Tower Eye, which incorporates a number of physical effects including actual fire.

2011: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World is released, one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies to be billed as “4D.” It is critically panned.

2014: 4DX debuts in the US (Los Angeles) and outperforms traditional movie theaters.

2016: 4DX debuts in New York City for Batman v Superman. Moviegoers are rained upon and punched.

A 4DX theater.
Image: CJ 4DPLEX

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