going (down on you in) the theater

There’s this idea that the only movies worth seeing in a theater are big screen epics. This saddens me.

Granted, movies like Troy and The Day After Tomorrow are ONLY worth seeing in the theater – the only thing these movies have going for them are sweeping, large-scale visuals that don’t translate to the smaller screen.

But that’s not the only kind of movie that can (nay, *should*) benefit from the large screen treatment.

There are quite a few differences between watching a film in the theater and seeing at “at home on tv”. Here are just a few:

1) Focus – when in the theater, there’s only one thing to pay attention to: the movie on the screen. When you’re watching a movie at home, you can multi-task, the phone can ring, the dog can hump your leg…all things that remove you from entering the world of the film completely. Suspension of disbelief is lower, and it’s far less immersive.

2) Contagion – ever notice how some comedies are just a lot funnier in the theater? It’s because there are other human beings in there with you, and the laughter is a feedback loop – the more each of you laugh, the more the rest laugh. I watch comedies at home by myself all the time, and rarely laugh out loud (even though they are hysterically funny). But in the theater, my laughing experience is always much higher, and so is my enjoyment.

3) Scale – one thing to remember: on the theater screen, things are larger than life. On your TV, they are *smaller*. A good director has created his work to be shown on the larger screen, not a TV. It’s a different experience.

I have seen documentaries in a theater that will blow your mind. Often times the immersive nature of the darkened theater enhances the emotional experience, whereas just watching them on TV relegates them to just that – another thing on TV, like “Friends” or “Everyone Loves Raymond”.

What do you guys think?

~ by Matt Stratton on July 22, 2004.

8 Responses to “going (down on you in) the theater”

  1. If you’d had a choice for just “anything but movies with Paulie Shore in it” I would have picked that one. 😀

  2. Did you create that last option just for me?

  3. okay, so maybe “never” is stretching it, but i’m lucky if i make it once a month. basically, very few movies these days seem to justify the expense. why pay $9 for one movie when i can pay $13 for the netflix 2-at-a-time plan? (at the rate i go through them, that’s about 2 movies a week.)

    i see what you mean about the theatre setting being important, but there are definitely some perks to watching at home: cheaper snacks, more comfortable seating, and being able to hit the pause button when you have to get up to take a leak. this is why just about everyone at least _wishes_ they could have a home theatre system, because then they would get the best of both worlds.

  4. being able to hit the pause button when you have to get up to take a leak

    Ah, see…but that’s just one of the things that *removes* the immersive experience.

    I don’t like the high priced snacks, and people annoy me, although I’ve found that by avoiding Webster Place (and City North on Wednesdays), I manage to minimize the annoyance.

    I used to have a pretty awesome home theater setup – not a dedicated room, but I was able to watch movies on a big screen with full surround in the dark (provided it was nighttime). It certainly helped, but I did miss the communal experience that a lot of comedies benefit from.

  5. your place has a decent layout for having ppl over, though, so why don’t you? even though i love my currently place, one of the things i’m looking forward in my new apartment is that it’s much more conducive to that sorta thing. needless to say, i’m sure i’ll be posting about more movie nights in the future.

  6. Well, I don’t have all the gear anymore. I had to sell off my home theater shit last time I was unemployed for almost a year.

    It sucked.

    Maybe after a few months of solvency, I’ll pick up some new toys and do that again. I miss it, that’s for sure.

    My neighbor wants to rent a projector and show movies in our backyard some night. I think that would be awesome.

  7. well, i don’t think you need the big expensive toys to have ppl over for movies. hell, my tv has a burn from living next to the el and ppl still came over to watch wrath of khan on that crappy thing. 🙂

  8. I didn’t answer your poll because there wasn’t an option for, “I would go see everything in the theatre except I have no money and therefore I only see the Harry Potter movie over and over and over.”

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