It’s Friday night. You’re tempted to see the new release in theaters you’ve been eyeing all week with your friends. You consider the drive to the theater, the cost of concessions, the uncomfortable theater chairs, and the annoying person always ruffling through their bucket of popcorn and suddenly you’re dismayed. It’s easy just to stay the night in, and stream whatever’s next in your queue on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or your other streaming service of choice. You figure you’ll catch the movie when it’s own demand.
There’s pure comfort getting to watch the movie at home, in your jammies, free to do as you wish. Believe me, I’m the same way. My attention is two-fold, as I’ll switch my gazes between the movie and mindlessly scrolling through my phone. I’ll pause the movie as I see fit, whether it’s to get a snack, watch a Snapchat, or just pausing for the sake of pausing. I’m comfortable and get to watch the movie on my own terms, yet I extend the original run time to three or more hours. Even worse, I sometimes neglect finishing the movie, or I’ll start it back up the next day. If I’m antsy, I’ll often skip through a long credit intro, or if I’m watching a horror film (I’ll shamefully) fast forward through the jump scares.
Notwithstanding pure comfort, you should still be going to the theaters. Yeah you’ll have to make an effort to get dressed and drive to the theater, and even risk a hefty bite out of your wallet for overpriced concessions, but nothing beats the experience of watching a movie in the theater. For one, you have the glory of the film being projected right in front of you. Yet there’s an even simpler reason- watching the movie in one go. In the theater you’re not privy to your home habits, checking your phone constantly or getting up constantly (at least not at the risk of getting kicked out and missing key scenes). Sometimes movies can be unbearably long, with long dull scenes, and what seems to be a non-ending opening credit sequence. But a watcher you need to take it in and experience it as it happens. A movie needs to be watched in one go to take in the reign of the film, whether it’s slow, dreadful suspense creeping in for a horror film or the overwhelming and fast paced scenes of a thriller- multiple pauses can just ruin the momentum of your watching experience.
Secondly, there’s the value of the collective viewing experience. Movies should be watched together, with the presence of other people. As an art form, movies are one way to unite us all to both appreciate art as well as to be entertained. Often times movies convey an important message, or tap into a universal feeling, a moment of truth that we call feel and emphasize with. What better way to laugh, cry, and shriek in terror than in the presence of others as we take in and share the moment. Even though we’re getting more connected digitally, we continue to fragment ourselves in person. You probably won’t meet your soulmate or best friend at the theater, but at least you get to experience a wide array of feelings together.
So, get up you couch potato! Drive to the theater, and shell out a few bucks for concessions if need be, and prepare to enjoy the movies the way it should be.