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Movies are awesome. Watching a movie in a theater makes them awesome-er. Sadly, most people are skipping movie theaters and just watching films online instead. Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, even wants to bring the latest blockbusters to your living room Would You Pay $50 to Watch a Movie at Home? Would You Pay $50 to Watch a Movie at Home? The Screening Room plans to stream new movies to your home on the day they're released in theaters. The catch? Each fill will cost you $50. Are you in? Read More as soon as they’re released. This is all a very sorry state of affairs.

Even today, when watching a movie at home has never been easier, the movie theaters have a lot going for them. Here’s why you should give going to the movies another shot.

Movies Are Made for the Big Screen

Movies aren’t made for tiny laptop screens with poor displays, fuzzy details, over-saturated colors, and tinny sound.

Movies are made for gigantic cinema screens — they should be seen spread across an entire wall, carefully calibrated by trained technicians to ensure every detail is crisp and clear, and every color is accurate, with countless booming speakers surrounding the audience so they can feel every footfall.

When a director shoots a film they aren’t imagining some solo viewer hunched over a diminutive device, they’re thinking of an ample auditorium packed full of people whose only focus is the film.


OK, so that may have been a touch over-dramatic, but movies ARE made for theaters and not smaller screens. Yes, there’s an element of spectacle to the whole but there are also practical reasons to consider. When directors are working, they’re using the whole frame. Subtle details will happen in the background. Characters will react at the edges of the scene. These details are next to impossible to see on a laptop or smartphone.

Aspect ratio also matters. The widest laptop screens are normally 16:10. TVs are 16:9. Movies, however, are shot at either 1.85:1 or 2.35:1. This means that every movie ends up letter boxed, or even worse, cropped by whatever device you’re watching it on. A screen that’s already too small is made even smaller.

If you want to see a movie in the way it’s meant to be seen, you need to go to a movie theater. You simply cannot get the same effect at home without investing thousands of dollars in a home cinema setup.

You Can’t Distract Yourself

As I learned when I binge-watched seven seasons of Californication in justfive days and made myself stare at screens for 48 hours I Stared at Screens for 48 Hours and Here's What Happened... I Stared at Screens for 48 Hours and Here's What Happened... I recently agreed to do something very stupid: subject myself to as much screen time as possible over the span of 48 hours. How did this experiment affect me? Read on to find out... Read More , I’m easily distracted. Unless someone’s naked or exploding on screen in front of me, I get tempted to take out my phone and start flicking through Facebook and Twitter.

This isn’t something I’m particularly happy about, but it happens, and I suspect it happens to many of you too. I’m just so used to sitting on the couch with my phone out that when it comes time to watch a movie, I fall prey to habit.

In the cinema, you can’t get away with having your phone out. Some utter degenerates will occasionally check their phones but most people are above such atrocious behavior. The best cinemas, like the Alamo Drafthouse and my local independent cinema, have really strict policies Cinema Is Dying: How Movie Theaters Can Ensure Their Survival Cinema Is Dying: How Movie Theaters Can Ensure Their Survival Movie theaters need to offer more than just a way of watching the latest films. They need to stop competing on "convenience" and start focusing on "experience." Here's how. Read More . If they catch you even glancing at your phone to check the time, they rush you out of the door. That’s the way it should be.

The Cinema is a Social Experience

Some movies need to be watched with a crowd. Watching with other people makes horror movies scarier and comedies funnier. The simple act of hearing other people scream or laugh can amplify your own experience.

Going to the theater is always better with friends. You can meet up beforehand, grab a bite to eat, head in to watch a movie, and then have a drink and talk about it afterwards. It’s a social event rather than just something you’re doing to pass the time.


You can replicate some of the social aspects at home — invite a few friends, order large pizzas, and embark on an epic The Lord of the Rings marathon — but most people don’t do that. Instead, they sit around, casually throw on a film, and then witness everybody taking out their phones to check Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, or possibly even Grindr. That simply can’t compare to the cinema.

You Can Only See Some Films in Theaters

Although Netflix has thousands of films available to watch, (especially if you use a VPN How to Watch Everything on Netflix No Matter Where You Live How to Watch Everything on Netflix No Matter Where You Live In this article, we explore why Netflix content differs from country to country, and how you can watch everything on Netflix regardless of where you live! Read More ) the actual selection is relatively limited. Rental services like iTunes tend to have a greater range of options, and piracy an even greater range of options, but even they don’t offer every film.

There are only a few blockbuster movies each year that get most of the media attention. These are The Avengers and the Mad Max-style movies. However, there are hundreds of smaller films released each year that never make it to general release. They’re only watchable at film festivals, or in small cinemas that specialize in independent films.

If you love movies, you’ll know that these are often regarded as the best films of the year. They frequently make it to the top of critics’ lists and become fan favorites on Rotten Tomatoes but because they don’t have “commercial potential,” they’re not widely available.

If you want to see these kind of films, you have to go to a theater for one of the screenings. They’ll often only be shown four or five times and that’s it. They’re sometimes released online months down the line, after the festival circuit has finished, but you have to wait until that happens if you don’t catch the movie in the cinema. Waiting doesn’t sit well with me at the best of times, and especially not when there are so many other good reasons to go to the movies.

It’s Good to Support Artists

If you love a particular director, actor, or film franchise, watch it in the cinema. Hollywood judges the success or failure of a film based almost entirely on their performance in theaters.

As an example, Ryan Reynolds fought hard to get Deadpool made. It has ended up being a massive success, and a sequel has already been greenlit because hundreds of thousands of people flocked to theaters to see it. Now, if it had tanked in the cinema but become a cult classic on Netflix, a sequel might have happened in 10 years time. But we can do better than that.

If you like a movie and want the creators to be able to make more like it, the best thing you can do is watch it in a theater on opening weekend. That’s when a studio makes the most money from a film, so they’ll be happiest about it performing well. If you don’t go to the cinema, you can’t complain about the state of movies currently being made Are You Responsible for the Death of Cinema? Are You Responsible for the Death of Cinema? Cinema is in its death throes. But why? Do we blame the directors of crappy films? The alternative viewing options now available? Or are you personally responsible? Let's figure this out. Read More .

Non-Traditional Movie Theaters Are Amazing

Every summer in my home town, classic films are shown on a massive inflatable screen in a park. You can sit outdoors on a warm evening, lie back on the grass, and watch E.T., Indiana Jones, or some other fantastic flick. It’s got all the benefits of a cinema without the sticky floors.


These sort of non-traditional cinemas are popping up everywhere. You can watch movies on a big screen while floating in a pool, lounging on a beach, or in a retro drive-in screen. Going to them is a wonderful experience, and it’s one you cannot replicate at home.

Wrapping Up

As should be pretty obvious by now, I really love going to a movie theater. And hopefully my enthusiasm will have convinced you to give it another shot. It really is the best way to see movies: it’s how directors want them seen, it makes for more of an event, film festivals are fantastic, supporting artists you like is important, and there are more unusual options than ever before.

Do you love or hate going to the movies? When was the last time you visited a cinema? How do you watch most films these days? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: cinema screen by Andrey_Kuzmin via Shutterstock

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  1. A41202813GMAIL ..
    May 18, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Content Providers As A Whole, Are Shooting Themselves In The Foot, And The Sad Part Is - They Keep Refusing To Learn From The Past.

    Finally, This Is My Turn To Say - GOOD RIDDANCE.

  2. Bob
    May 18, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    To argue the other side....I still go to the theaters for the experience of being immersed. But I try not to go in prime time when all the above problems with other patrons are present. My best time to get in is the 4-6pm window on a weekday. And depending on the theater chain, I can even get a much cheaper matinee price. Even Fridays when I see a new release. Usually only a handful of people are in the theater who are there because they really do want to see the movie. And "oh! look what I found in my jacket! Half a sub, chips, and a drink. All from the local grocery store...I wonder how that got there?" I can be a cheap date...dinner and a movie for $15. Works for me.

    • Daniel Escasa
      June 18, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Yep. Taking advantage of one of the perks of a semi-retired freelancer. Most movies I've seen lately were early-to-mid afternoon, and I could even "override" my assigned seat. That way, I avoid the pests. Not even the largest TV can compare

    • Harry Guinness
      August 8, 2016 at 6:48 am

      Yep. If you're having a bad experience at the cinema, you're doing it wrong!

  3. Roggyns
    May 18, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Movie theaters suck. You overpay to sit in front of a group of loud teenagers who think the whole world is in on their stupid jokes. You pay twenty bucks for corn and sugar water. You can't pause to use the bathroom (or pop your own corn for like 25 cents).

    I also don't watch movies on a tiny laptop. Like most American families we have a flat screen on the wall with an average surround sound system and a game console. Nothing high end but still enough to shake the house.

    The only time we do the movies is when we get free tickets around Christmas time. And we sneak our own food.

  4. voiceofreason
    May 17, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    No way! How old are you...15? The whole social aspect of going to the movies with a group of friends is one big reason why I don't go. Too distracting, noisy, rude, etc. Add the gross seats, sticky floor, $20 for popcorn and drinks, no thanks. I have so many other options and thousands of films that I haven't seen, why would I torture myself in a movie theater? "Movies are made for the big screen"? The view of a 55" HD screen in you living room is actually bigger and clearer that the view in a theater. It's about distance to the screen. And for crying out loud "You can't distract yourself"? So many people are distracting in a theater that this comment has zero merit.

    • Harry Guinness
      August 8, 2016 at 6:46 am

      26 ;). And as I said to Dark Passenger, if you're going to cinemas with sticky floors and bad patrons, you're going to the wrong cinemas.

  5. Dark Passenger
    May 17, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Sorry but no. I do already go to movies enough to know how horrible the experience is! Talking, texting, rude jerks every time I go now, it used to be once in a while. Why do so many idiots pay $15 to sit in a movie and text the whole time? I'll wait for the home version to come out where I can buy the movie for the same price and have any snacks I like.

    • Harry Guinness
      August 8, 2016 at 6:45 am

      You're going to the wrong showings or cinemas then.

  6. Rockdoc
    May 17, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    THIS all day long...when it costs more go to the movies for a family of four than it costs to go out to eat at a nice restaurant and buy three blu-rays to enjoy at thanks!

    • Harry Guinness
      August 8, 2016 at 6:45 am

      With a family I can understand it. That's a big investment. But for a bit of alone time, it's hard to beat too!

  7. Christoph
    May 17, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I used to go to the movie theater every weekend. Every. Single. One. But when they started jacking up the prices (by _*a lot*_), I stopped going. I understand that the theaters themselves have very little say about the ticket price; that the theater is actually making very little money off ticket sales. But the fact remains that even a matinee costs virtually the same as a regular ticket makes it so that instead of seeing 40+ (at least) movies in the theater each year, I see perhaps 3. Maybe. Way to go, studios!

    • Harry Guinness
      August 8, 2016 at 6:39 am

      I've only really noticed it with 3D films to be honest. Most cinema tickets in Ireland are about $12 with specials on during the week. A trip rarely costs me more than $20 all in, which is a price I'm prepared to pay!