It was the best year yet for the groundbreaking format, marking a 12% increase from 2018’s record $286 million. The uptick is partly credited to booming revenues in the U.S., where 4DX box office increased by 73% from 2018, while European markets grew by 17% from the previous year.
The announcement was further proof that a rising tide lifts all boats, after the global box office hit record highs in 2019, surpassing $42.5 billion. Overseas revenues also soared to new heights, topping $30 billion for the first time.
The trend toward premium and immersive movie-going formats is helping to fuel that growth. 4DX is a multi-sensory experience that provides a variety of special effects in cinemas, such as vibrating chairs, blowing winds, fog, and splashing water, through the use of specially designed in-theater technology pioneered by CJ 4DPLEX, a subsidiary of South Korean cinema chain CJ CGV.
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Disney franchises powered last year’s record-breaking box office, topped by “Avengers: Endgame,” which grossed more than $34 million globally to become the highest grossing 4DX film of all time. The Mouse House’s live-action remakes of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King,” “Frozen 2,” and Universal’s “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” rounded out the top five. In several Asian markets, local titles also performed well, with local-language 4DX films in China, Japan and India grossing more than $27 million.
While the innovative technology has obvious upside for exhibitors, it’s also spurring filmmakers to push the creative envelope. At the last Busan Intl. Film Festival, Lee Sung-Gang (“Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox”), one of South Korea’s most successful animation directors, debuted “Princess Aya,” the first feature-length animation designed and produced from the outset in ScreenX.