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All out of love with movie theaters

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2014-05-06


One of the very first memories I have is of seeing the original Star Wars movie in a theater. I'm pretty sure I didn't see the film when it was first released in '77 but instead when it was re-released a few years later. I also have very fond memories of my grandparents taking my brother and I to movies like ET: The Extraterrestrial, The NeveEnding Story, Goonies, Return of the Jedi and loads more in the early to mid-1980s when we were growing up, too.

At some point I started collecting ticket stubs from movies I saw. Some of these stubs go back 17 years and have survived three moves. But it's also my stub collection that tells me the last time I was in the theater before this April was on Friday, May 4, 2012. In the nearly two years between The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier I haven't felt like many of the movies released needed to be seen in a theater and, worst of all, the modern realities of the theater going experience have kept me away.

When I go see a movie I just want to see the movie. I don't care what kind of popcorn is served at the concession stand and I find wearing 3D glasses distracting. It doesn't help matters that 3D screens in theaters have been taking over 2D ones making it harder and harder to see 2D movies at convenient times. Which to me feels like the theater chains are trying to force me to pay a few more bucks to see movies in 3D I'd rather watch in 2D and I hate that.

After a while I slowly just stopped trying to fit 2D movie showings into my schedule and mostly stopped going to the theater. Since I still love movies, just not the theater experience, I started renting them on-demand at home rather than going to the theater.

The only downside I can see to the on-demand experience is that I have to wait a few months for the movies to make their way from theaters to that service. But other than a few movies I felt like probably deserved to be seen on the big screen over the last few years I didn't feel like I was missing anything else by waiting.

There was a time when the best possible experience for a movie was seeing it in the theater. Before VHS films were shown on TV but only edited for content and/or in a non-letterbox format. And when movies started being released on VHS they were still cropped to fit in the proportions of TVs of the day.

DVD changed this a bit with films being released as they were intended. And Blu-ray and hi-def TVs changed the dynamics of movies even further by providing a picture that arguably is better than that of theaters.

The question I've been wrestling with the last few years is that if almost everything about seeing movies is better in my home than in a theater, why go out to the movies rather than having them come to you? So far, having the movies come to me has been winning out over me going to them.

I do think that critics of not going to the theater confuse seeing films in theaters with seeing films period. That somehow seeing something on the big screen is different than seeing it in your own home. Other than the picture being physically bigger and there being (probably) better sound I disagree. It's a snobbish attitude and I'd argue that more people see movies on TV than ever saw those same movies in a theater regardless.

I'd like to reiterate this point; I STILL LOVE MOVIES. Gravity, WOW! Riddick, what a fun ride! Captain Phillips, a moving action pic. I just didn't feel the need to see them in the theater. In fact, of everything I've seen at home only Gravity seemed like one that deserved to be seen on the big screen. Would Man of Steel, Side Effects or, admittedly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier been any better in the theater than they were in the comfort of my own home? I think not.

Visit me online at DangerousUniverse.com.

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