Moving, Vibrating Chairs Creeping Into Movie Theaters

Normally when you’re watching a movie in a theater it’s cause for concern when a chair next to you starts vibrating. Not so at multiplexes rocking D-Box technology.

Think Disneyland’s Star Tours. Responding to cues embedded in the film, the Canadian-made chairs vibrate when explosions happen, rock you during car chases and hopefully will one day be able to cover your ears to protect you from suffering through Matthew McConaughey’s line delivery.

D-Box chairs have supported video games and home theaters, but are now eking their way into theaters, including locations in Los Angeles, Arizona and Texas. Ain’t It Cool News reviewed a Terminator Salvation screening in a D-box chair and said the ride makes it worth shelling out an extra $8 per ticket, although the experience is understandably disorienting.

The weirdest thing about the D-Box experience is that there is no center of action. The sensation switches to the point of view of whatever is most interesting on the screen at any given time. Rather that feeling like we were riding along in the car with Marcus and Kyle, we also swerved and crashed with the chase bikes, flew with planes and Hunter-Killer drones, swerved across the highway with the tow cable…so while you were participating in all the cool stuff on screen – which arguably is the point – there was no grounding sensation to make you feel like you were participating IN the movie. Just WITH the movie. Not that this is a bad thing – but I think we might see some stylistic choices in the future that might go one way or another.

Obviously, the easily motion-sick need not apply.

Massawyrm says D-BOX theaters seats just might be worth the extra $8 ticket price! [Ain’t It Cool News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. I Love New Jersey says:

    There hasn’t been a movie in years I have been willing to shell out $12 (or however much it has gone up to now) so I wouldn’t see the value of paying $8 over the price for a vibrating chair that isn’t going to make the garbage on screen any better.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    When I read this, my first thought was “how crappy is it for all the people who didn’t pay $8 for the jolty seat?” I mean, to hear “whoa!” somewhere in the theater every time someone got jolted by the seat, and to hear the buzzing from the seat itself (I assume it’s not totally silent), and the laughter from kids who weren’t supposed to see Terminator: Salvation anyway, but are now not only in the theater, but are in the buzzy seats making noise, and are being shaken like the shaky machine and/or like a Polaroid picture.

  3. unobservant says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that this is a somewhat unfortunate name with seemingly no explanation?

    Oh, Canada. When will we ever learn?*

    *Those were the original lyrics. True story! ;)

  4. craigkay says:

    I don’t need to pay $8 for “chairs [that] vibrate when explosions happen” – I experience the same thrill for $2.98 after two $.99 bean burritos from Taco Bell and a $.99 Redbox rental.

  5. Sorshha says:

    Is this something we really want? I’m still mortified by the “Bugs Life” movie at uniersal or wherever it was where the chairs like stabbed you and moved.

    • everclear75 says:

      @Sorshha: Ahh yes, The bug’s life 4-d show in the “tree of Life” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.. I’m with ya on that one. All of the disney animatronic rides scare the bejeezbus out of me!

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    Damn. Now how am I going to be able to solicit back rubs and complementary pony rides?

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    Hate to be the spoilsport, but what does the chair do during those adult-themed moments? And, Consumerist in me forces me to ask, is it really worth the eight dollars?

  8. nonsane says:

    Now you’ll have to bring chair condoms to movies to make sure you’re not sitting in someone elses puddle.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @nonsane: So I’m not the only one worried that this thing will make the movie too exciting?

      I don’t mean pervs either. I mean someone who just wanted to see a movie may have to leave in the middle of a car chase before something bad happens.

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    If the Ain’t It Cool News guy stress tested it, then that’s one sturdy chair!

  10. korybing says:

    Maybe they’ll re-release the Tingler so we can all get that authentic 1959 Percepto movie going experience. I’m eagerly awaiting the reintroduction of Smell-o-vision, or maybe they can start flying skeletons on wires across the movie theater during 3D horror monster movies.

    …you know what? I was originally making fun of this idea, but all of a sudden it sounds amazing.

    • crackblind says:

      @korybing: Dang, beaten to the Tingler reference. Seriously, Castle was doing this for no extra charge back in the 50s. You gotta read his book for at least the issue he had with Lloyds to buy insurance in case someone died of fright.

      The Film Forum in NYC has seats permanently wired for the Tingler but they haven’t shown it in a few years. I cannot wait to take my kids to see that.

    • CumaeanSibyl says:

      @korybing: Yes. Yes, it does.

      I was just thinking that I liked this idea way better when William Castle came up with it.

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      I would pay to go to a theater that did that. Seriously! If they played the old movies and did that.

      Like an art house cinema, only nostalgic and vintage movies. And plenty of Ed Wood films.

  11. Canino says:

    I don’t need to pay $8 for a vibrating chair. The last 3 movies I went to, I had someone doing it for free by constantly kicking the back of my nonvibrating chair. And one of them was not a child.

    • redskull says:

      @Canino: Post of the day, right there.

      The only thing I’d ever pay extra for in a movie theater is personal headphones so I can enjoy the movie in peace without having to hear running commentary from the yammering dolts around me.

      • AlxFherMana says:

        @redskull: Yea, headphones would be nice…I don’t remember what movie it was that I went to but there was a person 2 rows down from me that would chuckle loudly and follow that by an “OH MAN!!!!” whenever something funny happened. I wanted to strangle him by the end of the movie.

  12. snowburnt says:

    They have a theater like that at the Baltimore aquarium. You can watch a half hour version of a movie there. The chairs move, they bump, they have a little plastic thing that makes it feel like there are rats running around your feet, they pump snow into the room, they pump smells into the room, they’ll spray you.

    It’s kinda cool for a quick movie, I’m not sure I’d want to do it for a full length movie though.

  13. Baccus83 says:

    First 3D films enjoy a resurgence, and now vibrating seats return from the dead. This is all new takes on old ideas. Seriously, look up “The Tingler.” []

    I bet it’s only a matter of time until we have guys in costumes running around the theaters. Smell-o-vision won’t be far behind, I’m sure.

  14. takes_so_little says:

    I haven’t been to a big box theater in years, and this isn’t going to get me back.

    However, if this came out when i was a kid, you bet I would have demanded to see Star Wars in a vibrating throne.

    My kids are little, but soon they’ll be at prime star wars age (or whatever this generation’s version is… Transformers?)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @takes_so_little: From what I know about kids (which is admittedly, not much), Star Wars will always be popular. Transformers is NOT an apt example for this generation’s Star Wars…also, it’s much more violent than Star Wars ever was, and I don’t think kids should be seeing it when they’re young anyway.

      I’m pretty sure Star Wars and Indiana Jones are the de facto obsessions for every kid when they’re at “that” age…unfortunately, since I’m a girl, my parents were forced to conform to gender norms and I didn’t see Star Wars until I was 14 and it had already been out for a really long time.

      • takes_so_little says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: I’ll have to learn all of this when my oldest finds out what he’s been missing having been fed a steady diet of BBC nature documentaries, concert films, and the occasional PBS Kids show. I’m definitely one of those overbearing parents who needs to see something before I let my kids see it.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @takes_so_little: I don’t blame you. Actually, Wired’s Geek Dad blog does a pretty good job of screening movies for parents. The guy who writes for it recently screened Star Trek and was very fair about its content. I did see some kids the second time I watched Star Trek and they seemed to really enjoy it.

          I’m not a parent, but I can appreciate the task of screening things for kids. It’s better for every movie viewer adult and child alike if I don’t see kids at a rated PG-13 movie just because it’s not rated R.

          • HogwartsAlum says:

            @pecan 3.14159265:

            Yes, that’s true. I always get kind of anxious if there are kids in the theater when I’m watching something inappropriate for them. Also I want to hit whoever they’re with.

            –Two-year-old screaming helplessly and shaking so hard you could see it in the dark in “Jurassic Park” while the T-rex attacked

            –Four-year-old running around in “The Dark Knight.” That was not for kids!

            –Kids maybe 10-12 behind me in “Watchmen,” watching The Comedian punch Sally Jupiter in the face during a rape attempt. When all the reviews said No kids.

            Luckily, there were no kids in Sweeney Todd or I would have said something.

  15. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    I feel that with the crazy amount of money the film industry rakes in, our whole movie theater experience should be a whole lot more entertaining/interactive.

    Better surround sound system, that actually have films created for this format. Same goes for picture quality and effects. Why can’t we have all our films shot on IMAX and regular film.

    I love the idea of vibrating seats, the film industry is so boring and lackluster in my opinion. So much money made, so little reinvested in the movie going experience. Oh, and look at the quality of main stream films…that another topic..ooh Boy what a DOOZY!

    • amandakerik says:

      @WatchOutNow: The theatres are squeezed quite a bit from the industry – the films they show cost some serious $$$ for the films AND they have to be returned after a certain span of time.

      If everyone went to the theatre and just saw the movie – the theatres would operate at a loss. It’s the popcorn, pop and snacks that get them their profit.

      So yes, I think the industry should help out by lowering the cost of the film itself, then the theatres could operate in a much more customer-friendly way.

      Not going to happen, as the industry’s only goal is to make more $$ this quarter than they did last year.

  16. subtlefrog says:

    And for the easily motion sick who do unwittingly apply, can you imagine the barf-fest that will occur?


    • BytheSea says:

      @subtlefrog: I can imagine the hoards of thirteen year olds who will stuff themselves with junk and castor oil and have vomit torneys in these theaters.

  17. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Wow… the explanation was not at all what I pictured when I read the headline… don’t ask, I have too vivid an imagination to post it here.

  18. Outrun1986 says:

    There will be an instant lawsuit as soon as someone falls out of one of the seats.

    This is better for a short theme-park film that was designed for it and not a full length movie. I don’t think anyone would want to experience this for a full movie, most people want to relax during a movie and not be shaken around.

    I’ve heard the motions during some of those theme park rides and Ripley’s were quite violent so I am not sure how this is but from what I hear some people complain about being sore from the ride the day after and those are only short films.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @Outrun1986: “most people want to relax during a movie and not be shaken around.”

      …not people seeing Iron Man and Batman and other comic book movies. Having checked those two out of the library, they are very fast-paced and frenetic, not at all conducive to relaxation.

      And I’ll bet those are the kinds of movies this technology would be the biggest draw for. Unless you see some syrupy chick flick and the chair can make you feel like your heart is actually breaking.

    • MissPiss says:

      @Outrun1986: Or when someone who has a clot in the artery of their leg is killed!

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    Here’s a question.
    What will they do about unused D-Box seats? Will ushers shoo away kids squatting in them? Or will they be deactivated unless someone buys a ticket (thus a reserved seat, which raises another problem: empty prime-location seats)?

  20. mightydarv says:

    So, is Feel-A-Round coming next?

  21. picardia says:

    Theaters are desperate to provide something, anything, that people can’t get at home with a 56″ TV and surround-sound. Right now, the extras they’re providing consist solely of jerks who talk on their cell phones during the movie and $8 popcorn.

    There might be one movie a year that I’d find more enjoyable with this technology, though. (2009 = Star Trek.) So I think it’s a lot of cash outlay for not great gain.

  22. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    First sticky floors, now sticky seats!

  23. amuro98 says:

    Tickets in my area are $11.

    If you use Fandango, which is HIGHLY recommended for new movies, that’s another $1.50.

    If the movie is in 3d, that’s another $3.

    And now if it’s got D-motion, it’s another $8 on top?

    Throw in another $10 for popcorn and a drink, and we’re at about $33.

    Per ticket.

    For >2 hours of entertainment.



  24. amuro98 says:


    I would make the whole theater D-Box seating, then put a special barcode on the ticket stub that you would insert into the chair. The barcode enables the chair for just that particular showing.

    The projectionist room would be able to override this and enable a chair, for instance if you had a special event (no tickets) or a ticket wasn’t responding properly.

  25. amuro98 says:


    I doubt d-box is as intense as those amusement park 4-d rides.

  26. Jennifer Doss says:

    Would possibly be less disorienting if they picked a character and stuck with him or her. You’d have to plan more but then the movie-goers would have the benefit of another sense to gain information for the movie and story. People can and will process this extra information…which is why switching back and forth between good guys and bad guys would be so disorienting. But still awesome.

  27. Apeweek says:

    You can do this on the cheap. I have bolted “bass shakers” to the bottom of the furniture in my screening room, and connected them to my subwoofer amplifier.

    “Bass shakers” are what makes cars vibrate to music as they drive down your street. You can get one for under $20.

    In my home theater, they make my furniture shake to onscreen explosions.

  28. Geoff White says:

    Old news: [] 50 years old, in fact.

    For “Percepto!” William Castle attached electrical “buzzers” to the underside of several seats in the auditorium. The buzzers were small surplus vibrators left over from World War II. They had been installed inside the wings of air craft and when activated would vibrate to help de-ice the wings by shaking and cracking the ice. The cost of this equipment added $250,000 to the film’s budget. It was predominantly used in the larger theaters.
    During the climax of the film, the tingler escaped into a movie theater. On screen the projected film appeared to break as the silhouette of the tingler moved across the projection beam. The film went black, all lights in the auditorium were turned off and Vincent Price’s voice warned the audience “The Tingler is loose in THIS theater! Scream! Scream for your lives!” This cued the theatre projectionist to activate the buzzers and give several audience members an unexpected jolt.

  29. Dansc29625 says:

    I wont pay extra for it.

  30. BytheSea says:

    can I just pay an extra $8 to sit in a vibrating chair for a nice long documentary? I have the sciatica.

  31. zandar says:

    Cool, let’s get rid of dialogue while we’re at it. Cuz we obviously don’t want to think in the movie theater, we just want an amusement park ride. Whee!!

  32. bishophicks says:

    The theater chains have to do something to get people to leave their home theaters and head for the multi-plex. Their current idea of simply turning the volume way, way up doesn’t seem to be working.

    Vibrating chair might not do it, however, since adding “bass shakers” to a home theater set up is a relatively cheap upgrade.

    They need to do a better job with the rest of the movie going experience (everything that doesn’t have to do with sitting and watching the movie).

  33. Glenn Darby says:

    Wow you guys are all ready to hate on these things. I went to the premier of them a few months back with Fast & Furious 4 and loved it. Totally a perfect movie for them. The range of motion is totally impressive and it is quite an upgrade over a normally passable movie.

    On the other hand, nothing about T4 made me want to go pay the extra for Dbox seats. Too much dialog and guns, not enough movement. I’d really like to see a movie like Final Destination in it.

    Overall, if they hadn’t built the Dbox seats 40 minutes from the city, I think I’d go more often, but I’m not driving to the boondocks AND paying more to go see a movie I can watch for $5 at the downtown AMC.

    Also, for whoever asked, they are able to turn off the motion function. You show up, pick your seats, then they seat the Dbox people first and explain how to use the seats. Then they deactivate the unpurchased seats and let everyone else in the theater.