Why I Prefer Sitting in a Crowded Movie Theater
This past weekend I attended Sundance Film Festival and heard something I hadn’t heard in a movie theater in a long time: gasps, laughter, and wild applause. I attended a midnight screening of Killing Ground, an Australian thriller, and the theater was packed. I kicked over my popcorn and fought for the armrest, but it was still an experience I would never give up for a secluded viewing experience in the comfort of my home.
In today’s streaming-obsessed world, movie-going has become something of a rarity. Unless you’re seeing the midnight showing of the latest Star Wars movie, the theater’s never too packed and the audience never too rowdy. It takes a lot more to get the average person out of the comfort of their house, filled with Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon (the list goes on…) and actually see a movie in the theater. Because of this, studios are taking less risks on non-franchise movies, because they know people will only remark “eh, I’ll just wait till it’s on Netflix”.
However, there is still something to be said for watching a movie in an actual theater. It’s called having a shared experience. Oscar Wilde once said…
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
And while Wilde may have been talking about theater theater and not the movie theater, the same can be applied to watching a movie in a movie theater. Chances are you don’t know the hundred other people sitting around you. Yet you still share in laughing at the same jokes, gasping at the same jump scares, and rooting for the same character. No matter your race, financial status, gender, political affiliations, you still are sharing in this moment of being human.
There’s something wildly exhilarating about being in a crowd of people all hooping and hollering in unison as you watch your protagonist try to reach their goal. Even though you know yelling at the screen “Don’t open the door!” won’t stop the character from facing the monster that’s behind it, you still feel like you’re working together to help them in their journey.
So if you’re tired of seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: Nuts for Sequels or Spiderman: The 32nd Reincarnation, then take a stand. Go to the theater and support the underdog movies. Because, honestly, we’re better than this.
Don’t be afraid to laugh too loud or applaud too hard. Go to packed movie theaters and enjoy being a part of the crowd. Because while binge-watching Netflix alone under the sheets with a glass of wine is fun, physically going to the movie and enjoying a film with a bunch of strangers is an experience worth knocking your popcorn over for.