Home or Cinema? Where’s best?

I can’t count the number of movies I’ve been desperate to see but not gone to the cinema when they are released. I was overjoyed at the thought of a new Muppets movie but only saw it on a flight two months after it was released. I never made it to Contagion despite it being one of my must-see films for the second half of 2011 and I’ve noticed that I’m more excited by the Sky movies listings than I am by the cinema releases. Why is this? I see myself as a massive film fan yet I’m not a regular cinema goer? What is it about the movie-going experience that makes me want to stay at home?

Watching a film on the big screen is undoubtedly the best way to see it, particularly a movie that’s got a huge scope like Avengers Assemble. Would the Hulk/Thor fight have the same impact on a TV? Surely not. And the recent Dark Knight Rises trailer hints at some fantastic action that will look great on a large screen – the collapsing bridges and football field destruction are impressive enough on a laptop screen. Scaled up they are bound to be breath-taking. The surround sound also makes the cinema experience so much better than viewing at home – not many of us can boast the kind of system that envelopes us with music and dialogue and allows us to pick up all the nuances of the soundtrack.

There’s a camaraderie about viewing a film surrounded by 150 other people and sharing the experience of seeing something exciting for the first time. I remember when Goldeneye was released, there was a real buzz in the cinema with people really fired up about seeing the new James Bond in action. We all gasped at the same times and knowing that everyone around you is feeling the same validates your opinions. Conversely, an empty screen will make you question your thoughts – is it ok to laugh here? Is this really as good as I think it is?

So with all those great reasons to visit the local multiplex, why do I still watch most of my movies on Blu-Ray or DVD?

The 150 other people who can make the experience so much fun can also kill a good night out. How often have you strained to hear the dialogue because some idiots behind you insist on chatting all the way through the film? No matter how good the sound system is it can’t distract from a two hour conversation in your ear. The only thing worse than people around you talking is the constant munching and slurping. While watching Avengers Assemble recently I almost told the guy next to me to stop slurping his drink – it was like being in a nursery with a group of badly behaved three year-olds. The constant rustling of wrappers and loud munching caused my husband to move seats twice and almost ruined his enjoyment of the entire film.

If we ignore the bad behaviour of a minority of the audience (although a growing minority) there’s the fact that cinema chains don’t seem to want you to enjoy your night out. The staff are generally uncaring and only interested in getting you out of the screening so that they can get the next lot of cash cows in. When I went to see One Day the lights were turned on before the film, not just the credits, had ended. And the price – for a couple it’s going to be at least £25 – £30 for a trip to the movies, not including parking, dinner, babysitting and all the other additional costs. It may not sound like much for a good night out – but how many people could afford it once or twice a month, every month? Newly released blu-rays might cost the same as two cinema tickets, but they are yours and you can watch as many times as you like.

It’s very disappointing that I don’t make it to the cinema to see new releases as much as I would like. The trouble is that it always seems like a chore – fight with the online ticketing, be grunted at by staff and have a herd of cows chewing the cud in your ear. At least at home I can choose when the lights go on and can tell anyone who is chuntering to shut up and know it will work. Perhaps I need to do a Daddy Warbucks and buy out the entire showing of any movie that I go to see. That would work – until the lights went on early. Oh well, Sky Movies and a big screen TV it will have to stay for the moment.

Do you watch the majority of films at home or at the cinema? What puts you off going out to the movies? Let me know – I’d love to find out what other people think.

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