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Comparing the Theatrical Experience to Home, and its Effect on Our Enjoyment of Movies

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2018 1:15 PM

Photo by Paramount Pictures

It's no secret that watching movies outside of a movie theater is very popular. With the large number of devices with a constant connection to Netflix, Amazon Video, and more, huge libraries of movies are at our fingertips whether we're on our living room couch or standing in line at Starbucks.

But are missing something when we watch movies outside of a theater? Of course. But how much?

Engadget published an article recently that examined the difference in the experience of watching Annihilation, which opened in theaters recently in the U.S., Canada, and China only, with other countries getting it via Netflix. The article brings some interesting things to light, and they're food for thought when you choose how to see movies:

Devindra Hardawar, after seeing the movie in a New York movie theater:

After seeing Annihilation in a packed New York City theater on opening night, I had two thoughts. I was grateful to experience such a gorgeous, transcendent film with a group of strangers, on a giant screen that demanded our attention. And I felt sorry for audiences outside of the US, Canada and China who won't have the opportunity to experience it in theaters.


I'm sure I'll enjoy watching Annihilation at home, but I'm also a movie nerd with a projector and an extensive surround sound setup. If you're just watching it on a TV or -- movie gods forbid -- on your laptop or tablet, you'll definitely miss out on the film's epic scope and rich sound design. Several sequences seemed purposefully built to be experienced with a crowd on an enormous screen. A scene with a monster prowling through a room, as our intrepid explorers can only sit trembling, praying not to get attacked, had my audience holding their breath. (I could tell from the collective sigh of relief when it was all over.) The film's astounding finale, a dialogue-free visual feast that would be right at home at the Museum of Modern Art, felt almost like a collective religious experience.

Daniel Cooper, after seeing the movie in his London apartment on a 40" HDTV with a soundbar:

Seeing Annihilation for the first time on the small screen left me with the sense that I'd missed something from the whole experience. It's the first time I've been denied the opportunity to watch an Alex Garland movie in a cinema, which is how I'd experienced all of his work thus far, from 28 Days Later onward.

Whether he's writing or directing, Garland's work resonates with a paranoid, woozy energy that amplifies the skin-tearing tension. But, as slow and tense as Annihilation is, it's hard to be as gripped in your living room as you are in a cinema.


On a TV screen, the Floridian visuals aren't too broad or deep, but claustrophobic and tight, and in my notes I wrote that the film "isn't cinematic." It didn't look like a $40 million movie, but perhaps that's because the TV sapped all of those lush visuals and made it look more pedestrian.

Click the Read link below to view the full article.

Everyone has their own opinion on watching movies in a theater vs. watching them at home vs. on a portable device. There's no question that there is a huge difference between enjoying a movie in an isolated, encompassing environment like a movie theater or a well-designed home theater and watching it on a smartphone while riding the subway home from work (two extremes to be sure), but wherever you land on the value spectrum of that experience gap, it's important to be aware that your opinion of a movie can be impacted profoundly by the environment in which you chose to see it.

After all, looking at the Mona Lisa will have much less impact as a Facebook profile picture on your phone than in its permanent exhibit at the Louvre Museum in Paris, surrounded by other impressive artwork in a historical museum.

There are all kinds of reasons to wait to watch a movie until it comes out on video. Maybe this article will convince you that spending the money at a good movie theater is worth the effort.

What's Your Take?

Have you had a similar experience when comparing a moviewatching experience at the movie theater vs. at home or on the go? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo Information: Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Annihilation from Paramount Pictures and Skydance. Photo credit: Paramount Pictures © 2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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