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Amazing theaters: Grab the popcorn -- and a canoe!

  • As Oscars approach, we look at fun, wild theater experiences
  • Floating cinema off Thai coast, viewers watch from lagoon
  • 4D theaters will mimic on-screen weather conditions
Amazing theaters: Grab the popcorn -- and a canoe!

With the Academy Awards this Sunday, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more unusual cinematic innovations our team has spotted over the past year. In general, there seems to be a global trend toward screenings that are smaller or more exclusive, highly experiential, and heightened with all kinds of sensory input.

For those of us who crave such unique experiences (and who doesn't these days, when everything is so easily accessible on a mass scale), could this be one potential direction for the future of cinema? Here are six of our favorite examples:

1. In Paris, a theater staged a screening of "Life of Pi" (nominated for 11 Academy Awards this year & a beautiful film -- definitely see if you haven't had a chance) inside an indoor swimming pool, where viewers got to watch the entire film from lifeboats. Seeing as how the film's plot revolves around a boy and a tiger lost at sea, it immediately becomes evident why this is a lovely way to experience the storyline. The only thing I'm not certain about is how they worked out the bathroom situation during this screening.

2. Another water-related cinema experience we loved was "Archipelago Cinema," set along the rocky shoreline of Yao Noi, Thailand. Architect Ole Scheeren, who built the floating cinema, was inspired by local lobster farms to build a large raft out of recycled materials. Film-goers got to experience a film in this ethereal setting, with the "auditorium" floating in the middle of a quiet lagoon and the screen nestled between two giant rocks.

3. Surely, it can't be healthy to sit in a hot tub for two hours, can it? Yet "Hot Tub Cinema" is definitely a thing of reality. If you've ever fantasized about relaxing in a hot tub with friends, watching a movie, while waiters come by to bring you champagne, your dreams can now come true. But first, you'll have to get yourself to London to have this experience.

4. It's standing room only in the "Centipede Cinema." Built earlier last year in Guimaraes, Portugal, this pop-up movie theater consisted of 16 large, vertical tubes that funneled into an enclosed screening room. At any time of day, you only have to stick your head up into one of the yellow tubes to get engulfed by a cinematic adventure.

5. Forget drive-in cinemas, "cycle-in cinema" is sure to be the next rage for hipsters everywhere. It's exactly what it sounds like -- you ride up on your bike, hook it up to an on-site generator, and your collective pedaling power generates the electricity needed to power the projector and watch the film. A movie + exercise + doing something green = a pretty special night out, in my opinion.

6. Because 3D just isn't enough sometimes, we're adding on a fourth D, coming soon to a theater near you. Already popular in places likes Asia and Mexico, the 4D cinema refers to augmenting your moving-going experience with additional sensory inputs such as smells (e.g., flowers or gunpowder) or artificial weather phenomena (e.g., mists, wind, lightning).

My favorite example has to be the screening of "Kung Fu Panda" where chairs outfitted with massage capabilities were used to strategically beat you up during the fight sequences. Depending on the film, I'd probably shell out a few extra dollars to try this out at least once.

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