I’ll admit: I don’t know exactly what it feels like to get bashed in the face by Vin Diesel. But watching the trailer to Fast Five while seated in a D-Box motion-simulator chair, I’m gaining a much better appreciation for the power the ersatz Stallone packs.
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In the teaser, Diesel’s Dominic Toretto pistol-whips an extra and my entire seat shakes and pitches to one side. During a car chase, an SUV police cruiser violently rolls, whipping my body to the left. A muscle car speeds out of a moving train, floating to the ground in slow-motion—and the electro-mechanical actuator on the base of the chair responds, quickly raising up an inch, then decompressing, producing a palpable feeling of weightlessness.
“It’s not a roller coaster, but I hope you’re not prone to motion sickness,” says a smiling Guy Marcoux, the marketing VP of D-Box Technologies, at a preview of the chairs at the Muvico Rosemont 18. The theater became the first in Illinois to feature the rumble seats with last week’s release of the latest installment of The Fast and the Furious series. It’s a cautious entrance into the Chicago market—just 36 chairs in one auditorium—for a company that has seats in 65 theaters around the world.
Once focused only on home theaters, D-Box started syncing its moving seats to cinema releases with 2009’s Fast & Furious. The two dozen motion-enhanced films the company has D-Boxed since then fall mostly into action, sci-fi and horror—genres that pair well with the technology. The 19-year-old Montreal-based company’s motion-design team in Burbank, California, gets the studios’ approval before translating on-screen activity to ass-quaking seat action.
The major downside: D-Box film screenings cost eight bucks on top of a regular movie ticket. A showing of Fast Five at Muvico is $18. To see the D-Box version of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides when it premieres in 3-D at the theater May 20, the already inflated price jumps to $21.50. It’s enough to make anyone seasick, with or without a gyrating chair. For a cheaper thrill, board the Blue Line to Rosemont—a trip that has more than enough seat rumbling, and for the unbeatable price of $2.25.
For showtimes and tickets to D-Box–enhanced Fast Five at the Muvico Rosemont 18 (9701 Bryn Mawr Ave, Rosemont, 847-447-1040), go to muvico.com.