“This year we have a huge climb of wonderful titles”, celebrates Martín Álvarez Morales, CEO of Cinemark-Hoyts, the largest chain of cinemas in the country. For that reason, this executive and like others, foresee for this year to surpass the almost 45 million tickets sold in 2018, despite the recession and the fall in general consumption. Of all, the biggest novelty is the expansion of the 4D, a new format of room with seats that vibrate, move, emit sounds, smells, puffs of wind, flashes of lights, smoke and even dew of water, depending on the scene.
There are already 12 screens in the country based on E-Motion, a technology that emerged in the theme parks and then expanded to theaters. On April 24, with the premiere of one of “the tanks”, Avengers: Endgame, 3 more will be inaugurated. And the chains foresee adding another 5 during 2019, with the premise of installing at least one 4D room in each complex.
“They work very well and are the ones with the highest demand, by far”, explains Gabriel Feldman, CEO of Multiplex, a national chain that has 34 rooms in 5 complexes. It is the pioneer company to enter the 4D era, which implies an investment that ranges between US $ 600,000 and US $ 800,000, depending on the size of the room, whose recovery depends on two variables: “The occupation percentage and the price of the entrance, “Feldman graphed.
The devaluation, admitted sources of the sector, complicated the projections, but the chains maintain their plans to expand the format. Diego Bachiller, commercial manager of Village Cinemas, argues that “it is a global bet of the company (of American capitals), because it improves the experience of the spectator and draws public to other rooms”. The logic of the people, added the executive, is that “if there is no place in 4D, choose to see the movie in another format.”
Due to technology issues, room 4D is smaller than traditional rooms. “They are a success and those of greater occupation, and they were very well received in the complexes where we installed them”, Álvarez Morales emphasizes. With a long career in the industry, the executive says that his company’s plan (with 22 complexes and 190 rooms) is to move from the current 3 to 10, at least, in the medium term. “The cinema surprises you every day and is an industry that is constantly looking for new formats,” he said.
The technological leap occurs in a complicated economic context. After reaching the box office record in 2015 (50.3 million tickets sold), sales were declining year after year to close in 2018 with 44,606,355 viewers, according to the Ultracine specialized portal. Of that total, 474,480 passed through a room 4D, a significant figure if one takes into account that for now there are only 12 screens enabled.
The chains believe that sales will rebound, mainly due to the long list of planned releases, considered the “tanks”. In addition to the last part of the Avengers saga, several Disney productions are coming, such as The Lion King, Star Wars: Episode IX, Frozen and Toy Story 4. This is without counting the very blockbuster films already released, including Spiderman into the Spiderverse (Sony), Shazam (Warner Bros) and How to train your dragon 3 (Universal). In total, it is estimated that 50 titles adapted to the 4D version will be released this year.
“It will be a good year, far from the record but with a good level of ticket sales,” Bachiller predicts. This executive, however, stresses that the contraction of consumption impacts especially in the candy (pochoclo, candy and drinks), which represents 30% of the billing of the cinemas. “That is resentful, because people find it harder to go to candy,” he says. Álvarez Morales, of Cinemark-Hoyts, disagrees. Consider that the spending on the candy is stable. “We do not see a fall, but it does not grow either,” he said.
The deployment of 4D in Argentina is a local development. This is Lumma, a company founded by 4 partners (two engineers and two professionals linked to film), who reached agreements with major American film producers, a key endorsement to synchronize the films and the special effects of the rooms, including Warner, Universal, Paramount, Disney, Sony and Fox.