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By Megan Bianco
The past week has made my recurring frustration this year go from the denial of new movie releases—because of an unprecedented pandemic—to an old debate that I’ve seen argued for almost a decade, even before the coronavirus: whether the modern movie theater experience has become less enjoyable and a reason for streaming and home viewing to take over watching films. As a lifelong movie lover and traditionalist, I personally can’t imagine a world without the availability of a big screen with a dark room and snacks—a big part of why this crisis was a huge personal blow for me, on top of other reasons.
The arguments I’ve seen from naysayers about going to the theater to see new movies are pretty consistent: “People are too loud”; “The seats are dirty”; “Late attendees are distracting”; “It’s claustrophobic”; and so on. All of these things, I can agree, are obnoxious. The pro-streaming crowd has been happily predicting that with events such as the pandemic, new movies going straight to VOD or virtual cinemas will now be a norm much sooner. If this does happen soon, I feel the average price to view a movie at home right away will have to be somewhere in the $10-$20 range.
At home, I’m constantly distracted by my thoughts, surroundings and devices. In a theater setting, I can absorb the full film experience with the huge scope and atmosphere of the feature with the dark setting, full sound system and giant screen. This is the common divide among the general public. As was originally standard, TV shows are for the small screen, movies are for the big screen. So, while others are enjoying the few new releases in home viewing formats, I’ll continue waiting for the world to go back to normal, and that includes trying drive-in theaters if one ends up opening close to me.