Hunger Games super-fans experienced 4DX at Cineworld O2 and here are their reactions

This week, I was thrilled to return to Panem and attend a special multi-sensory 4DX screening of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes at Cineworld O2. And to say it's got me excited for new 4DX releases Wonka (released December 8th) and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (released December 21st) is an understatement.

This sweeping Hunger Games prequel story presents the origins of President Coriolanus Snow, played here as a younger man by Tom Blyth. The movie dramatises Snow's complex relationship with District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) and how this inadvertently set the stage for Katniss Everdeen's rebellion some 60 years later.

Myself and the rest of the attendees at Cineworld O2 were invited to feel the visceral and hard-hitting sensations of the Capitol arena via motion-controlled seats and immersive, tactile effects, an experience that is wholly unique to Cineworld.

I caught up with several of the audience members who attended to canvas their opinions on the Hunger Games franchise in general and their reactions to this sweeping blockbuster in 4DX.

When asked about her first Hunger Games experience on the big screen, Instagram influencer and fashion designer Michelle Isabel T replies:

"I think I was with my family. I remember seeing the trailer and telling my mum, "I really, really want to go." This was close to 10 years back. I was technically still a kid."

Michelle recalls the impact of Jennifer Lawrence's tenacious Mockingjay Katniss Everdeen. She explains: "I loved that Katniss was empowered as a main character. She literally just sacrifices herself to join the Hunger Games because of her sister. And I thought that was quite an empowering move. And then you see her grow to become sort of like a leader by the whole situation that's happening in District 12.

"So, it was honestly such an amazing experience watching it for the first time."

Emilia says: "I've been [a fan] since Mockingjay Part Two came out in 2015. I watched all of the movies. I became so obsessed and 13-year-old me fixated on it. Now finally this movie is out, I cannot contain my excitement.

"I’m so excited. And I can tell that so much effort has been put into it. So yeah, I can't wait to see President Snow’s villain origin story."

For influencer Kiera Spearing, the very first Hunger Games was a formative cinematic experience.

"I remember that when I was younger, I loved the cinema but if I'd go, it'd usually be cartoons," she says. "I had so much anticipation for The Hunger Games.

"I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat because I didn't know what was going to happen next. And that was one of the only films really that I've seen in the cinema that’s kind of done that for me. So, that's why I'm so excited for [The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.]"

Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Evidently, The Hunger Games is no ordinary franchise. It exerted a strong impact on an entire generation of young filmgoers, including Cal.

"I do BookTok and I’m a big fan of the books," he says. "I grew up on them around the dystopian [young adult] era. They mean a lot to me. And when [author Suzanne Collins] came up with a new book, I absolutely ate it up and read it three times. To be here at the exclusive screening is so, so cool."

"I've been [the biggest fan of the books] ever since launch," enthuses Michelle Isabelle T. "I'm a big Katniss Everdeen fan. I think I was 12 when I first saw the first movie and I grew up watching it.

"[I wore] my hair's like to the side just like Katniss did in the first Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The books are great as well. I'm super excited to see the prequel."

"Honestly, I was just a sucker for dystopian movies," recalls Emilia. "So, there was the Maze Runner series and Divergent, which I became obsessed with. I think we need to bring back those types of movies because everyone loved them so much. Anything that's set in the near future where the world is messed up.

"When I rewatched The Hunger Games [recently], it felt less dystopian than when I watched it when I was 13. Especially all the Capitol's outfits, because it reminded me so much of the Met Gala and like, all of the elitist high culture events where they're dressed like Capitol people now. And that was never a thing [before]. It's a little bit scary."

Influencer Sarah Freer says: "I've been a big fan since I was young. If 15-year-old Sarah could see me now, she'd be freaking out. I just can't believe they made The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes into a film and I can't wait to see how they've done it."

So, what about the chance to return to where it all began in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? "We've all seen the 74th and the 75th [annual Hunger Games] and we know what happens, we know how it ends. It's going to be so awesome to start again at the beginning. Suzanne Collins is an absolute genius. I don't know how she does it."

When quizzed about the ongoing appeal of the Hunger Games franchise, Lorella Palmer believes it continues to stand apart from other dystopian sagas.

"I think it's just a whole other world," she replies. "Realistically, I don't think there are any other films you can compare it to. I was a really big fan of Twilight when that came out. And then I think this was like the next setup for that dystopian style of film. It was really, really up my alley."

Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

So, how does one about watching the Hunger Games on the big screen? Are there in-cinema rituals and routines that make the viewing experience more pleasurable and memorable? Michelle Isabel T says she follows a set routine to a T.

"I must find a friend that I would enjoy watching it with," she reveals. "I get the tickets and I definitely choose [a seat in] the middle row so I’m not too close to the front. And then I would always go for a sweet and salted popcorn. If they have caramel popcorn, it's even better. 

"Also, I would go for something like a Diet Coke, which I think balances the popcorn really well. And, of course, you have to switch off your phone before you watch it. Then, just before watching the movie, I like to share the experience with my friends who follow me on social media." 

Evidently, we were all at Cineworld O2 to feel the impact of the Hunger Games in our bones via multi-sensory, seat-shaking 4DX. So, how did it feel stepping into the Capitol arena with a palpable feeling of physical danger and excitement closing in from all sides?

"I was at the very front and it was mindboggling," Kieran recalls. "First came the bullets. Then I felt the wind and I was like, “Whoa!” I couldn't stay in my seat properly. Smoke was all in my face. It was just amazing.

"I really felt like I could experience what they were experiencing, and it really brought out the emotion. I think the next thing [I’m going to try to see in 4DX] is Captain Marvel and seeing how that feels in 4DX. Because yeah, it was nothing short of breathtaking."

Andre Fyffe says of 4DX: "It made it so you’re really in every moment of the scene. The storms, the jumping, the lights – it makes you feel really part of the whole film."

Viola Davis as Volumnia Gaul in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

I wanted to know how many people had experienced 4DX before. Georgiana Leahu says: "I've done it once. But it was in Berlin. I feel like this is better by, like, a billion. They don't shake you so much. It’s more extreme [here]. It was awesome."

For Thomas Baries, this was his first-ever experience of 4DX.

"It was really interesting," he says. "To be totally honest, I was dizzy at points because it was like a rollercoaster at times. But it was quite amazing. It did all these squirty bits when all the water and then it snowed. 

"It was wild – you get the smells of everything as well. I thoroughly enjoy it. I think it was. It was a really interesting perspective that immersed you in the film."

Peter Dinklage as Casca Highbottom in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

In conclusion, when you combine the sweep of the Hunger Games saga with the immersive, multi-sensory capabilities of 4DX, you get fireworks. What does 4DX specifically add to the Hunger Games experience?

"I mean, it just elevates the entire thing," says Emilia. "I think media is so important. People need entertainment more now than ever. But I just think it's so important that people get to experience [films] in as big of a way as possible, especially because making a movie is such a long process.

"It takes so much time and involves so many people – like if you ever actually sit and watch the credits of any movie, it goes on for like 10 minutes!

"So many people work on a film and they deserve to be acknowledged via a huge screen with moving chairs and snow. It's supposed to be an experience."

Lorella Palmer believes 4DX is the kind of big-screen experience that audiences demand, particularly when it comes to big-budget blockbusters.

"I think it's a different experience when you come to the cinema," Lorella explains. "It’s a different environment, being around other people who are excited to watch the same thing. When you get lines that are funny or shock you and you hear [gasping] or laughter, it’s a nice thing to be around."


May the odds be ever in your favour. Click the link below to book your tickets for The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is now on release at Cineworld.



Al Horner is a movie and multimedia journalist who has written for the likes of  Empire, The Guardian, the BBC, British GQ and Little White Lies. Find him on Twitter here.