Although serious film buffs like Martin Scorsese might theoretically criticize “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” as being more of a theme park ride than a movie, that is probably the selling point for fans who plan to see the film in the 4DX format.
Thousands of filmgoers will pay around $25 per ticket to see “Rise” in one of 690 4DX-equipped theaters worldwide, including 32 in the U.S.
The relatively new format ― it first came to the U.S. in 2014 ― turns movie seats into motion simulators, complete with air jets, water sprays, and leg and back ticklers. In addition, 4DX theater effects can display smoke, rain, lightning and bubbles.
Considering 4DX technology has its roots in Disneyland’s famous “Star Tours” ride that debuted in 1987, the technicians who added the physical effects to “Rise” felt a significant responsibility.
And it could be daunting, according to David Bae, the senior 4DX motion editor for CJ 4DPlex, the cinema technology company hired by Disney to do the film.
“We definitely felt the pressure,” Bae told HuffPost. “As ‘Star Wars’ fans, we know what this film means.”
Adding effects to the film meant Bae and his staff were among the first people in the world to see the finished version of “Rise.”
They got the print in early December, but the crew didn’t exactly see the film in optimum conditions: Security for the film was so tight that each of the team members had to watch it at their own workstations rather than on a huge screen while nibbling on popcorn and Sour Patch Kids.
Oh, and because Bae and team were actually supposed to be working on the film, that first time was spent taking notes on where effects might go as opposed to that 100% undistracted experience craved by fans.
“It required enhanced focus,” Bae said. “But passion for the films helps do the job. We don’t want [the effects] to distract fans ― we focus on supplementing the story.”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” marks the 132nd film project CJ 4DPlex has done this year. So far, the technology is best experienced on films where characters are in constant motion like “Avengers: Endgame” or “Ford v Ferrari,” as opposed to films where the action is more static like “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and “John Wick 3.”
That said, CJ 4DPlex art director Michael Martinez said there were plenty of opportunities for the technology to shine in “Rise.”
Contractual obligations with Disney keep him from dropping too many spoilers, but he did offer a few hints.
“Anything with the Millennium Falcon is fun to do,” Martinez said. “All that whipping around and flying up and down ― people feel it.
“Also, the lightsabers are especially strong in 4DX ― we really make the chairs vibrate,” he added.