The former Empire cinema at Leicester Square was a familiar part of the London movie scene but it was long overdue a makeover, especially when it came to the sound: I remember straining to hear muffled dialogue on a few occasions during screenings there. Since acquiring the site in 2016, the folks at Cineworld have been busying away making it as hi-tech as possible. That includes a big new IMAX cinema and the most recent addition, a 4DX auditorium aiming to blow audiences away with a series of effects whirring around them. 4DX was invented in South Korea and first launched in the UK in 2015 at Cineworld Milton Keynes, believe it or not. And now it’s come to London.
I trotted down the red carpet at Cineworld Leicester Square to check out this immersive experience on its launch night. After a glass of bubbly, I headed in for the big event: a 4DX screening of The Rock’s new monster movie, ‘Rampage’. The impressive 136-seater screen (pictured above) comes complete with a cloakroom – no bags allowed, and we soon found out why. The big, roomy seats are programmed to respond to the rhythms, jumps and bumps in the showing film by jolting around quite wildly, so open drinks are out, too (I was quite relieved when a couple with runny ice creams decide to sit elsewhere). Just watching the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ trailer before the movie had us in a spin: there were squeals and giggles as the seats vibrated and rolled.
During ‘Rampage’ 4DX (3D glasses included), there were more surprises: sprays of rain, gusts of air behind your ears (not my favourite) and one effect that felt just like a kid kicking the back of your chair really hard (I checked – no kid). It’s all highly impressive and well programmed to follow the feel of the film, but I found it a bit distracting. According to cinema chain, the key audience for 4DX is young men, and I can see it appealing to groups keen on rollercoaster-like thrills. It’s definitely a talking/laughing/screaming point and a night out with a difference – and Cineworld has presented it in a really slick and well-staffed environment. Step on in if you dare.
Tickets for 4DX screenings at Cineworld Leicester Square are available at www.cineworld.com. Upcoming 4DX films include ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, ‘Deadpool 2’ and ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’.
Read our 'Rampage' review here.