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Santa Rosa movie theater company testing '4-D' technology

Santa Rosa Entertainment, which operates 11 movie theaters across the state, will test new "4-D" cinema technology at one of its Southern California theaters this summer.

Its Oxnard theater will be the first in the United States equipped with patented seats developed by MediaMation Inc., a Torrance company known for its motion-effects technology used at Legoland and other attractions.

Its X4D Motion EFX technology uses air pneumatics to control the motion of the seats synchronized to the action on the screen. In addition to moving seats, the theaters also use such effects as air, water blasts, leg and neck ticklers, wind, fog and scents to create a more realistic moviegoing experience.

As with 3-D, consumers will pay a surcharge for the experience, although MediaMation said ticket prices had not yet been set.

"We are very excited about our first U.S.-based X4D cinema theater," Dan Jamele, chief technology officer of MediaMation, said in a statement. "As a U.S.-based manufacturer, we wanted to find a partner whose theaters represented a very 'middle America' and younger demographic. We feel the Oxnard location is a perfect fit for us and the Santa Rosa group."

There are no plans currently to install the technology at the Santa Rosa company's five theaters in Sonoma County, said Neil Pearlmutter, the company's vice president. About 100 seats in the company's Oxnard cinema are being equipped with the technology, he said.

"This cutting edge technology will add value to the moviegoing experience and offer another reason for people to go out to the movies," Pearlmutter said. "We're trying this experiment at our Oxnard theater and will consider expanding it if it's successful."

MediaMation, which already has "4-D" theaters in Mexico and Colombia, also plans to install similar theaters in Oman.

Staff Writer Matt Brown and the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.


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