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Slidell theater offers new experience

Motion pictures now have the “motion” to go with scenes on the screen and sounds that today “surround” moviegoers.

Movies at the Grand Theatre in Slidell, La., now offer customers a seat that moves with the on-screen action, as well as the sound and pictures movies have long had.

Using technology called “D-Box,” patrons of the Slidell theater can purchase a ticket for one of 21 seats in the “auditorium” theater that move with the action, said Grand Theatre General Manager Laura Becnel-Rocha. The Grand has the ability to screen 16 films in various theaters in its complex, but only the one Becnel-Rocha referred to as the “auditorium” has the motion seats.

The cost for one of the moving seats will add $8 to the price of a ticket, which now run $7.50 for day tickets and $9.50 for night tickets. Both prices are for adults. The same $8 fee applies to children’s tickets for one of the moving seats.

That extra fee will give moviegoers a prime spot, with the best view of the screen and best position for surround sound, Becnel-Rocha said. At the present time the theater is the only one in either Mississippi or Louisiana to offer the moving seats, and is only one of 31 theaters in the nation that offer them. The first theater in the United States to install the new seats was the MANN Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood, which did so in 2009. Becnel-Rocha said the technology was first introduced to customers in 2001 for use with home theaters and video games.

Only one feature film at a time offers the seats, currently John Carter. Becnel-Rocha said on March 23, Hunger Games will take the place of John Carter and be able to be seen from the D-Box seats. Movies in that theater will change every two weeks.

Currently the option to see a movie in both 3-D and with D-Box is not available at the Grand Theatre, since the theater is being used as a test market, Becnel-Rocha said. However, viewing a movie with both technologies is possible both at home and at some theaters, according to the D-Box website. Special hardware and software is required to use D-Box at home.

Media members were treated to a short demonstration of D-Box, using scenes from three popular movies, Fast & Furious, Terminator Salvation and Polar Express. Seats rock side to side, vibrate and move up and down to simulate movement that corresponds with the action on screen. Touch sensitive buttons on the seats allow customers to adjust the intensity of the motion. A scene in Polar Express that resembles a roller coaster ride had the seat moving up down, forward and backward with the on-screen action.

While the seats are not just for adults, it is not recommended that the seats be used by  children who weigh less than 30 pounds or women who are eight or nine months pregnant. The recommended age for children is 8 years or older, Becnel-Rocha said. There is one D-Box seat that is handicapped accessible.

“We’re excited, especially being the only theater between two states to offer patrons a new experience,” Becnel-Rocha said.