Thanks to streaming services, movie theaters are somewhat of a dying trend. This was especially the case around COVID, and for good reason. People didn’t want to leave their house and go sit in a room filled with other people. So companies began releasing their movies either exclusively to streaming or, a bit later on, same -day theater and streaming releases.
Now though, COVID seems like a distant memory, yet some companies continue to release their films to streaming at the same time as their theater release.
With the recent Regal bankruptcy closing a number of theaters across the US, it has some worrying that movie theaters might be coming to an end, but there’s something special about the theater experience that we lose when we watch a movie alone at home on our television screen.
If you’ve read some of my past reviews, you might have seen that I’ve reviewed a number of old movies, particularly “Godzilla” movies, when they get theater releases. These are movies I have seen countless times; I own them on old Blockbuster DVDs, so why the heck am I going out of my way to watch them on the big screen? It’s because there’s something lost while watching a film at home.
First of all, is the screen size. There’s a reason why the IMAX exists. Watching a film on the biggest screen possible is awesome, especially when you’re watching big action movies like I am. Heck, even a pretty slow and boring movie like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” is greatly enhanced by a massive screen. The monster movies that I enjoy usually use lots of low camera angles and when you have to physically look up at the screen, it makes you really appreciate the cinematography all the more. The booming surround sound of a good theater is also really awesome, especially when watching the big new movies.
Another thing that would seem small but I find really important is the no phones policy, but truly it doesn’t end there. Theaters lack distraction, it’s very easy when you’re sitting on your couch to glance at your phone for a moment and end up missing a chunk of the movie or show you’re watching, and it especially sucks for people like me who watch a lot of foreign films so you can’t just passively listen, you glance at your phone and that’s an entire dialogue exchange you just missed. There are also plenty of other distractions in your own home, but not in the theater. I find that I pay attention and notice more when in that big dark room where my focus is totally on the film before me.
Another thing that can be hit and miss is the audience around you. Sometimes they can be unbearable. Screaming children, people talking, folks whipping out their phones on full brightness, or that big smelly guy sitting behind you, it can suck. However, sometimes the audience reaction can be great. I’ll never forget the time when I went to see “Jurassic World” in theaters, and when the Mosasaur jumped up and ate the Indominus Rex, everyone started clapping and cheering. Was it cheesy? Yes, but it was fun. It may be rare, but sometimes the audience around you can enhance a film. Too many comments can be annoying, but when someone blurts out something funny once … it’s pretty hilarious.
There are many movies I have grown to dislike after really enjoying them in the theater, so there’s definitely something special about the movie theater. No matter how big your home TV is, it’ll probably never be as great as watching a great movie on the big screen in a dark room filled with strangers, and an overpriced bucket of popcorn in your hand. It shouldn’t be great, but it is.
Connor Keating is a Halstead sophomore in general studies