Immersive movie technology gets U.S. debut with new 'Jumanji' adventure

By Rollo Ross

By Rollo Ross

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Moviegoers have been offered rolling seats, 3D glasses and even rain and smells in recent years as theatre chains seek to fill seats.

Now comes an immersive experience that gets its U.S. launch in Los Angeles next week. It features laser projection and giant LED panels that line each side of the auditorium and fill a moviegoer's peripheral vision.

The panels extract colours from the screen and project them around the audience.

"It gives you a feeling of being immersed in the film," said Shelby Russell, senior vice president of marketing at AEG and the LA Live entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles.

"It makes you more engaged in the film in a very immersive way so it sets the mood throughout the entire auditorium," Russell told Reuters Television.

The Immersive Cinema Experience (ICE), first launched in France two years ago by movie chain CGR Cinemas, will make its U.S. debut on Dec. 12 at a single venue in Los Angeles for adventure movie "Jumanji: The Next Level," starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart.

Moviegoers will be charged an additional $6 for the experience, which CGR Cinemas plans to expand to other theatres around the United States.

It takes a swift three weeks to convert a feature film into an immersive experience, with action films working best.

"The films on ICE must be the films that have action, colour and movement," said Jocelyn Bouyssy, managing director of CGR Cinemas. "It really needs movement of the camera - 'Mission: Impossible,' 'Jumanji,' films like that."

The technology is coming to the United States as movie theatres face increasing competition for audiences from streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+.

"We do believe that providing unique experiences is a way to draw moviegoers to movie theatres, and ICE is a great example of that, and this is an experience you can't get at home," said Shelby.


(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)