First Introduced: 1960
The Concept: In the same way 3D movies used (the perception of) depth to create a third dimension, Smell-O-Vision expanded the sensory experience by adding an olfactory component. A number of exhibitors and producers (like Walt Disney) experimented with or actually tried different ways of letting movie audiences “smell” a scene—usually via atomizers placed around the theater. (Most gave up, unable to overcome any number of obstacles, including odors that lingered for hours.) In 1960, producer Mike Todd, Jr. decided he would use a new smell-delivery system in conjunction with his upcoming comedy-mystery Scent of Mystery.
How It Worked: There were 30 different scents in the movie—including wine, roses and tobacco smoke—each cued to a specific scene or plot point. Scents were released in a contraption set up in the lobby, and then blown by several fans to small tubes attached to the bottom of every seat in the theater.
Was It Successful? For the most part, critics and audience held their noses to both the film and the new technology. Some moviegoers complained of delays between smell and scene, while others found the scents mingled together in unpleasant ways. (Henny Youngman quipped that he didn’t understand the movie because he had a cold.) Incredibly, as we’ll see later, this was not the final chapter in movie-smell technology.
Other Movies That Used This Technology: N/A