Watching movies on the silver screen while munching on salty popcorn beats watching movies in your home with distractions. Movies are much more enjoyable in theaters than at home.
Movie theaters that shut down when the pandemic hit are now coming back. However, many new movies are now streamed on platforms such as Disney+ and HBO Max. Since streaming movies has become more popular, it raises a question: Will streaming replace movie theaters?
The atmosphere of going to a movie theater is different than watching it at home. The screen is larger and sound effects fill the room, taking you into a different world. Theatergoers also have multiple options of snacks and unlimited buckets of popcorn ready to eat.
It's true that streaming is a lot more convenient because you don’t have to go out — you can sit comfortably in your home. Finding parking won’t be an issue, and you can watch the movie on a phone, laptop or TV.
However, these benefits are outweighed because there are a lot of distractions at home. In a movie theater you focus on one thing, whereas at home you can be distracted by scrolling through your phone or by what is going on in your house. These distractions make the experience much less exciting.
According to John Fithian, the president of the National Association of Theater Owners, “theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated.” Going to the movies is an entire occasion, rather than a short activity to do while multitasking.
Visiting a theater is perfect for a date night or hanging out with friends. You do not get the community experience when watching at home — at a theater you can hear the audience cohesively react to the movie and enjoy the experience of the movie together.
According to Buisness Insider, the recently-released film "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" was very successful over the Labor Day weekend, grossing over $90 million at the box office. This revenue makes it a success, even compared to pre-pandemic films. Despite being able to stream the movie on Disney+, people went to the cinemas to enjoy the movie in-person. This suggests that people want to see movies in person rather than stream them.
Some might argue that recent statistics show people prefer to watch movies outside theaters: According to Variety, 70% of consumers would rather watch new movies at home. However, this percentage is likely high due to anxiety over COVID-19.
It is important that we keep safe and try to reduce the spread of the virus, but once COVID-19 cases go down, more people should be willing to watch movies in theaters because it's an experience that cannot be replaced by streaming services.
Last year, USC students had streaming services such as Cocky TV+ to stream movies on. Since many local theaters were closed as a result of the pandemic, this service provided a safe option given to USC students near the university to watch movies. Although USC students could stream movies, local theaters provide a much better movie-watching experience with the sound and color pulling you into the movie.
The experience of watching a movie at a theater is a one of a kind experience that cannot be substituted with streaming services. The visual storytelling, community experience and unlimited popcorn makes the movie watching experience much more enjoyable in the theaters.