In the rising world of streaming services you can access thousands of movies and TV shows from the comfort of your own home. You never have to leave your couch or your pajamas, and you can watch endlessly on your TV, phone, tablet or computer.
So why, with this ease of entertainment consumption, would anyone ever want to get off the couch, put on pants and drive to the movie theater?
Because movie theaters are magical.
I love going to the movies. If I go too long without stepping into the lobby of the movie theater, I get restless. And it’s not the popcorn, it’s the people.
Everyone goes to the movie theater: people of every demographic, age, race and socioeconomic background. The movie theater is for everyone because everyone wants to see a good movie.
Some movies are more enjoyable when you watch them with people. You get to feel a community’s reaction of what’s happening on screen. While watching “Pete’s Dragon” I heard a young boy cry, “No” when the dragon was in trouble. While watching “Five Feet Apart” I heard a woman behind me sobbing when the story took a turn for the worse. In “Avengers: Endgame,” I heard the collective gasps as the audience reacted to heroics ending in death or victory. In “A Quiet Place,” I felt the fearful silence of an audience waiting to see what would happen next and where the monster would appear.
Movies were made to be watched together. You can laugh at a comedy with strangers. You can cry at a drama with strangers. You can gasp in horror with strangers. You can feel excitement from the onscreen action with strangers.
It’s not something that happens when you are watching alone in your home.
This is part of the magic of movies and movie theaters: They bring people together. You sit for a couple hours in a room with others, and you walk out with a shared experience at the end. Sure, your opinions about the experience might differ, but you now have at least one thing in common with an entire audience.
Movies also are magical for where they take you.
Films can transport you through space and time and places you’ve never been. The screening room of your local movie theater is the best way to travel there.
In this darkened space, the film can truly capture your attention. There are limited distractions — no dishes in the kitchen a room away to be done. There’s no texting (at least there shouldn’t be). There’s no pausing to do just one little thing.
Even in a room full of people, at times it feels like it’s just you and the movie. You can immerse yourself in the world the movie is showing you. As the credits roll and the lights slowly return, it’s like coming out of a trance or waking from a dream. It’s pure magic to step back into the real world, still adjusting to reality after experiencing another world.
Movie theaters are how movies were meant to be seen, with other people, as an audience, in a room designed to allow you to fall into the story on screen.
Don’t get me wrong, I watch as much on streaming as anyone else, and those films are as artistic and impactful as the ones in the theater. However, theaters offer the audience an experience that is difficult to duplicate anywhere else.
I don’t know what the future holds for movie theaters in a world of streaming. To me, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be going to the movies for a magical experience.
Hope to see you there.