I grew up watching movies everywhere. At first, I consumed them mostly at home, begging my Dad until he popped in the VHS tape of The Sound of Music or Babe in the City. As I slowly learned the ways of the DVD and then, the Blu-ray player, I spent even more time watching my favorite flicks repeatedly. Outside of the home, our family weekend trips consisted of traveling to the IMAX theatre to watch the latest nature documentary on a screen that was twenty times the size of our television’s. But I didn’t care about the increased visual or sound quality. I just wanted more. I’ve watched movies on computers, on iPads, on phones. I’ve watched them on planes, on trains, and automobiles. Trips to the theatre became special occasions for certain types of movies, such as the latest superhero extravaganza or Star Wars film. For one, the explosions of red fire and blue lasers always looked impressively large on the screen. It also became a race to avoid being spoiled by overzealous pop culture sites and YouTube channels, all who obsessively covered these blockbuster films and little else. For a student with limited means, $14 movie tickets had to be carefully rationed throughout the year. Any other films were added to my growing list on Netflix.
Recently though, I have questioned my assumption that some movies were destined to be watched on the small screen. It may come with a thousand little annoyances, but there is something irreplaceable about the theatre experience. When the lights dim, I allow myself to sink away from reality. I let my grip on my own ego slip away and become a puppet of the movie and its director. The darkness is crucial. It allows me to feel without reservation, cry and laugh without worrying about the judgmental glare of the light. My connection with the outside world is severed in other ways also. With my phone stashed away in a pocket and with a safe distance established between myself and my homework, I can stop thinking about such mundane worries as school or text messages. This is sadly lacking when I watch movies from home. Tempted by the sudden vibration of my phone, I will pause and start a movie like an overworked engine. I will stop for a snack break or a stretch, actions unimaginable in the darkened atmosphere of a theatre. I write this piece because 2017 had the lowest ticket sales since 1992. I write it because I hear my classmates talk excitedly about the newest season of Black Mirror or Stranger Things 2, but not even mention Lady Bird or The Shape of Water. The latter two aren’t available outside of theatres, the former ones are readily accessible to anyone with Wifi and a Netflix account. It worries me that in a town with two theatres and student discounted tickets, that most haven’t found their way past the brightly lit marquees. Most of all, I worry that the bubbling anticipation in my heart as I settle into a theatre seat, will be left lost and unshared.