What are D-Box seats?
D-Box are interactive movie theater seats that vibrate and jolt according to the action that happens on the movie screen. Some (but not all) D-Box seats even include sound speakers, to give movie goers a greater sense of directional audio. Their ultimate purpose is to make the movie more immersive by giving the movies a physical sensation, and not just audio-visual.
They’ve started appearing in movie theater chains such as Cinemark and Cineplex around a decade ago, and have kind of become a staple since.
A D-Box seat is generally more expensive than a standard seat, which raises the question: are D-Box seats worth the money?
If you’ve never watched a D-Box movie before, then yes, getting a D-Box seat is worth trying at least once because they’re an interesting experience, and really fun with if the movie has lots of action. However, they are distracting for story driven movies such as dramas, mysteries, comedies etc.
3 reasons D-Box seats are worth it
1. D-Box makes movies feel more alive
If you’ve never tried them before, getting D-Box seats for a movie is worth it purely for the novelty and the fun first time experience.
The seat can make certain stuff that happens on screen seem much more alive.
For example, you could accurately feel the recoil of every shot when Rocket Racoon fires his gun in Guardians of the Galaxy.
A better example are Fast & Furious movies, where the chair really highlights the intensity of every sharp turn or collision.
However, D-Box seats sometimes highlight even slow-paced moments.
For example, in the movie Dredd, the seats come alive as a character is slowly pushed over an edge and falls over. The whole tossing and turning of the seat really made a relatively common scene pop-up with suspense and emotional buildup.
Finally, some D-Box seats even have sound speakers included, which give off very clear directional audio.
An example of this is one of the recent Star Wars movies, where two fighter pilots are locked in space combat and the speakers give you the direction the lasers are coming from, making you feel like you’re there in the cockpit.
2. You can control the intensity of the movement
D-Box seats come with users controls so you can adjust how much, or how little, movement you want to experience.
If the shaking is too much, you can always turn down the intensity to a level you are comfortable with.
If you don’t like the movement at all, then you can completely deactivate it and essentially have a normal chair.
3. D-Box seats are SOMETIMES the beast seats available
Usually (but not always!) the D-Box seats have the best location in the theater, where they are neither too far nor too close to the screen.
If you’re interested in a particular movie, but all the seats have been sold out except the D-Box ones, then buying those might be worth the money if you haven’t tried them before, and especially more so if the movie promises to be action heavy.
5 reasons D-Box seats are NOT worth it
1. D-Box break immersion for story driven movies
D-Box seats make narrative movies feel gimmicky because it feels like the chair is explaining what you should feel. It simply devalues the whole experiences instead of adding to it.
It’s as if the chair is condescending and doesn’t think you’re capable of understanding a movie.
2. For some movies, the execution just isn’t good
The company that makes D-Box seats has to synchronize the movement of the chair with that’s happening on screen for each and every newly released film.
Sometimes they do an amazing job, while other times it feels as if they have no idea what they’re doing.
For a movie with a poor D-Box execution everything will simulate chair movement just for the sake of it. The movement of the chair will just feel too much, and placed at the wrong times.
In one movie for instance, two characters were having a conversation about an important plot point as they were walking towards an elevator.
When the elevator started moving the chair gently shook which took me completely by surprise, because it had been silent for a good 5-10 minutes up until that point.
That shake was completely unnecessary for that particular scene, and reminded me that I was in a movie theater, instead of being immersed in the story.
At some point it becomes obvious they want you to feel like you get your money’s worth for the D-Box seat, and are trying to find something eventful to justify why your chair is moving.
3. The seats aren’t the most comfortable
D-Box seats are primarily engineered to move around and shake up the user, and to do this, the engineers had to make some sacrifices, and one of those is comfort.
More than once I’ve gotten out of a D-Box with an aching back or sore legs, and it wasn’t because of the shake.
The cushioning feels thinner and the D-Box seats don’t allow for any sort of adjustment (at least the one’s I’ve sat on).
I can understand why they’ve done those sacrifices, but it’s still inconvenient for me as a movie goer.
All of the moving parts take up space, so if they added as much cushioning as on a normal chair then the D-Box seat would become way too bulky and take up too much space.
As for adjustments, I guess it’s easier to program a single type of chair movement for a movie, than it is to make 3-4 of them that take into account how the chair is adjusted.
But there are other things that are annoying.
For example, the controller LED lights can’t be turned off, and seeing them with the corner of your can be distracting, or at least it was for me.
Finally, some movie theaters place the D-Box seats right on the front row. Perhaps it’s a taste thing, but I generally dislike sitting front row since I have to throw my head back to see the entire screen.
After a two-hour movie, my neck definitely hurts and I have only the chair to blame for that.
4. The shaking can hurt a bit
If you’ve got a sensitive back, or have suffered some injuries lately, then the shaking on the chair can cause discomfort or even pain.
The problem is partly mitigated by lowering the intensity of the chair’s movement or just turning it off, but doing so make it feel you’ve wasted your money.
The takeaway from this is to make sureyou (and the people you’re going with) are ok with some shaking and jittering and can handle it physically.
5. They’re too expensive to be a regular thing
Most of the people I know that have tried D-Box seats have done it only once or twice, and then kind of forgotten about them.
This is because the extra price attached to them compared to normal seats makes it very hard to justify spending more money on an experience that often feels like a gimmick.
If your local movie theater offered these at the same price as standard movie seats it might be worth making a habit out of them. They usually don’t however, so the extra expense is usually not worth it.