The historic Los Angeles cinema will expand to include an MX4D Motion EFX theater, serving as the first “immersive spectator theater” for competitive video games.
Built in 1926 and originally known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the building has gone through several names over the years. Grauman’s, Mann’s, and now finally the TCL Chinese Theatre. It’s located along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where movie and TV stars are honored with footprints, handprints, and metal stars inlaid into the sidewalk.
Electronics manufacturer TCL bought the naming rights in 2001 and has steadily taken the Chinese Theatre from “historically interesting landmark” to “state-of-the-art movie theater that people actually want to go to.”
Primarily, they added a multiplex called the Chinese 6 Theatre. They’ve been renovating it with IMAX, 3D, D-Box, and all the other bells and whistles that today’s fancy moviegoers enjoy.
Tip of the Iceberg
At the 2017 CinemaCon, the official tradeshow of the movie theater industry, TCL announced their intention to go big on eSports tournaments. They’re hoping to host tournaments in real-time strategy games, FPS, and fighting games, and treat spectators to a “real sports” experience the likes of which they’ve never seen.
Robert K. Laitly, the CEO of the TCL Chinese Theatre, commented at CinemaCon.
“What we are launching is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We see cinema operators working together as a global network of immersive MX4D eSports theaters and becoming part of the fabric of competitive gaming. We are in discussions with sponsors, eSports organizations, and other cinema operators to join forces with the TCL Chinese Theatre as we bring this exciting capability to the world of online and live tournament play.”
The idea of tournament play in a swanky theatre in front of a live and broadcast audience is appealing to many pro gamers. This could be the next step eSports have been waiting for to move beyond ad-supported audiences on Twitch and YouTube to large live events, including lucrative ticket sales.
In between eSports events, the facility will show movies with a Captain EO-esque range of gadgets and doodads. A company called MediaMation has designed a complete multisensory experience that includes moving seats, blasts of air or water, “leg/neck ticklers”, fog, seatback pokers, seat rumblers, and other special effects.