I don’t think I could ever run out of reasons why home theater is better than movie theaters —at least when it’s done right—but here are ten of my favorites. You may pay particular attention to the ones that directly address the practicality of going to the movies in today’s society, but overall, everything on the list will likely find it’s way into the heart of someone who loves film. When you finish reading, be sure to leave a comment below letting us know which is your favorite reason. And leave us a comment if you completely disagree with the entire premise. We want to know.
10. Bass is Punchier
If you’ve done your home theater right, bass can be a lot more “in-your-chest” than it is at the local cineplex. This is because you have a lot less room to fill, and you can direct your efforts in bass production to fill the smaller room. When factoring in home theater subwoofers, a couple small or medium-sized subs will often deliver the bone-crunching bass you may never experience in a movie theater. If you don’t currently have this in your home theater, you may need to upgrade your sub to something with a larger driver (12″ or more) and additional output. (No one with a cube-based system will experience that type of bass—it’s not possible from a bass module that only has a 6″ or smaller driver.) A true subwoofer can hit you in the chest with bass that leaves you feeling like you really are on the battlefield, or experiencing an earthquake, or being attacked by an alien monster. You get the idea.
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9. You can Optimize the Sound for Fewer Seats
One of the chief reasons home theater is better than movie theaters is that you can worry about less seats than the typical movie theater. There are more seats in a movie theater, but at home you can concentrate on getting good sound to the few seats you have in your room. I typically try to sit in the re-recording engineer’s mixing position each time I see a movie (two-thirds back, center of the room), but that isn’t always possible. At home you can always have the best seat in the house—and you can make sure your guests have excellent seats as well…and footrests.
8. Frequency Matters
I’m not talking about frequency range here, but rather the number of movies you can watch and the number of times you can use your theater. Given the prices of today’s movies, a trip to the theater is going to be fairly infrequent (either that, or you’re made of money). Your home theater, on the other hand, can be used several times a week to enjoy the movies and TV shows you like the watch. And with the production value being put into new television shows (particularly those produced by hollywood stars like J.J. Abrams, Joss Wedon, Jerry Bruckheimer, and others) you’re going to want an incredibly robust sound system to get the most you can out of all that action and drama.
7. Adding up the Costs (or Homemade Popcorn is Cheap)
A typical first-run movie costs $12 today, depending upon where you live. My family occasionally goes to the movie for major blockbuster releases (we’re fans of The Hobbit trilogy and Marvell’s The Avengers among others). It costs us $24 on a date night and $48 + snacks on a family movie outing. Because of the high cost (and the fact that we have a kickin’ home theater), aside from the occasional blockbuster epic, we operate on the principle of “delayed gratification”. If you wait 4 months (sometimes less), you can enjoy that first-run film for under $7…for the whole family. Wait a tiny bit longer and it will be out on Blu-ray for a $1.50 rental at RedBox. You can amortize a $2500 home theater in just 50-60 trips to the movies. Some people see that many films in 3-4 years.
6. Press “Pause” for Bathroom Breaks
Ever have to go to the bathroom in the middle of an intense action sequence? I have—and it’s an amazingly painful experience (in more ways than one). With a home theater you can hold it in if you really want to, but hitting ‘Pause’ on the remote is a viable option as well and nobody misses a thing. In my house, with four of us watching, this can happen at least once per movie.
5. Quiet on the Set!
I can’t tell you how annoying it is listening to other people talk over a movie. I mean, they’re constantly interrupting me while I’m doing it! In a home theater you can control the noise, so to speak. That scary-looking stranger doesn’t have to listen to you when you tell him to “shush it!” but at home you can just send your kids to bed. When you pay $12 to see a movie, it’s nothing short of astounding how many people would rather hear themselves talk, or act like the people on the silver screen can hear them (and, apparently, even care what they think!)
4. Your Home Theater Likely has Better, More Comfy, Seats
Movie theaters are getting better with their seating, but the truly comfy seats are reserved for premium DBox tickets, which are so outrageous as to be novel. (If movie theaters really want our money, why aren’t those seats standard?) The normal movie theater seat may “spring-recline” but it’s a far cry from a true home theater recliner. Home theater seating can be expensive, but you can also find some real bargains out there that will completely outperform anything you find in today’s rank and file movie theaters…and without the fear of catching some hairborne disease from the 10,000 people who sat in your seat before you did. Think about it…
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3. Go Ahead, Eat in Front of the TV!
I love the “Fork and Spoon” concept, but paying $10 for nachos or a burger isn’t my idea of fine dining. Some of the most fun experiences I’ve had involved making some awesome chicken wings and fries for me and my friends and then watching a movie together. Eating in front of a TV has been around for decades, but eating in front of the home theater while watching a blockbuster movie is an incredibly satisfying experience that should not be missed. Popcorn and candy costs are a lot cheaper as well and add up to a lot of savings if snacking is a regular occurrence at the local cinema.
2. Your Feet Don’t Stick to the Floor of Your Home Theater
One of my biggest gripes with the local movie theater is the way my feet always seem to stick to the floor when I walk in. It’s detestable, and it makes my skin crawl. I’m not OCD or a clean freak, but seriously—what is that stuff? Is it soda? I sure hope so! Having your own home theater means never having to feel like you’re placing your body in a place that’s never truly been cleaned by anyone over the age of 19 and earning more than minimum wage. If you’re into clean environments, this is a huge reason why home theater is better than movie theaters.
1. Quality Control—The Biggest Reason Why Home Theater is Better than Movie Theaters
New movie theaters are better than older movie theaters for the most part. They seem to be more up-to-date in terms of equipment, and the attention to detail is still intact. Many theater, however, simply don’t have much motivation to continue to calibrate and keep their systems operating at peak efficiency. In short, they allow their theaters to go to pot. Just last week I was watching Lucy, the latest Luc Besson film (which was surprisingly poorly written in my opinion), and the theater I was in didn’t even bother masking the screen. We watched the entire film with a white screen all round the outside of the projected image. There’s no excuse for this, and it’s the second time this has occurred in so many months (each occasion was in a different theater establishment). I have a Carada Masquerade screen in my home theater, so all of my movies are properly masked for the correct aspect ratio—every time. With a home theater you can keep your audio and video system properly calibrated and running at peak capacity.
Agree? Disagree? Or more importantly, did I miss any of YOUR pet peeves? Let us know by commenting below.