For most of our lives, going to the movies was a true treat. Between the big screen, the awesome sound quality, the yummy snacks, and the fun night out, nothing could beat catching a movie at the theater.
But this experience has very much become a thing of the past. Today, going out to the movie theater means paying much more for a lower quality experience. This might explain why so many movie theaters are closing down, which means that even finding a great movie theater near home can be a challenge these days.
However, people have not stopped watching movies. In fact, the movie industry is booming. But more and more people are investing in quality home theater setups that allow them to watch movies and have an even better experience than the one they might have at a theater.
So, as the COVID-19 pandemic eases and things start to open up again, there might be a natural urge to spend a night out at the movie theater. But before you go ahead and do that, check out some of the reasons why your home cinema is even better, as well as some of our tips and tricks that will help you build a setup that rivals the big screen.
Here are eleven reasons why your home theater is actually better than going to the movie theater:
One of the main reasons we go to the movie theater is for the picture. After all, we call it the “big screen.” But in most case, bigger is actually not better. In fact, a lot of movie theaters don’t have their projectors properly calibrated, and this can degrade the quality of the image that you see.
Plus, the only reason the movie theater screens are so big is because the theaters themselves are so large. In order to accommodate 100 or more people into the theater, the screen needs to be big enough so that those sitting way in the back can have a similar experience as those sitting closer to the front. This doesn’t make it so that the picture quality is inherently better.
In reality, the TVs that are on the market today for your home can often deliver a better picture than the projectors at movie theaters. Between 4K Ultra HD resolution and advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing, home television sets are just better. And if you have an OLED or Quantum LED screen, the contrast on your home screen is also going to be better, bringing you a sharper, crisper image that can be far more immersive.
The way to compensate for the smaller screen is to simply put your home theater in a smaller room. By doing this, you can still get lost in the image the same way you do when you’re at the theater, but you’ll be doing so while looking at images that are of much higher-quality.
Another big reason why we’ve always enjoyed going to the movie theater is because of the sound. With so many speakers and such a large room, the cinema can create a surround sound experience like no other.
However, while all of this certainly makes the sounds in a movie theater louder, they don’t necessarily make it better. This is because the speakers need to be tuned and adjusted to accommodate all of the seats in the house, not just a select few. The goal of a movie theater is to try and deliver the same experience to everyone, but this actually degrades the overall quality.
One of the biggest issues that arises from movie theater sound systems is that they are either too loud or the bass is too punchy, which can create an uncomfortable experience, especially during action scenes where there are lots of booms and bangs.
Additionally, depending on who has configured the sound system in the theater, it’s possible that there will be discrepancies throughout the film. For example, if it’s tuned to make dialogue more audible, this can make action scenes too intense. On the contrary, if it’s designed to make the action scenes more bearable, this can make it so that the dialogues are hard to hear.
Another issue that can happen is that the audio is not lined up with the video. Because movie theaters use projectors and such complex sound systems, this can happen way more often than you think, and it really degrades the experience.
Home sound systems have come a long way over the years, and in the right room, they can deliver just as much of a punch. And since the space is smaller, you can tune it for just a few seats, rather than hundred, helping you create a more balanced, crisper sound experience. Furthermore, if you encounter an issue throughout the film, all you need to do is adjust things on your remote, something you cannot do at theater.
So, yes, movie theaters are able to make more noise and be louder, but when it comes to quality, even a mid-range home theater system can do a whole heck of a lot better.
For years, while movie theaters were far better in many areas, where they really lagged behind was in seating. In an effort to cram as many people into the theater as possible (so that they could make as much money as they could), theaters relied on stadium style seating with rather light cushioning. And anyone who has sat through a two-hour movie in these chairs knows that they are really not comfortable.
Over the years, particularly as people have started going to the movies less, the theaters have responded by putting in better seats. Most look more like a recliner you might put in your home, and they have cup holders, trays for food, and other features, such as a footrest. However, theaters tend to charge more for these seats, labeling them as premium. So, while the experience is better, you do pay for it in the end.
At your home theater, you get to choose exactly which type of seating you want to use. Want a sofa to lay down on? A recliner with a fridge built in? A chair with speakers? You got it. Of course, you also need to pay for this, but when you do, you become the owner and can enjoy these seats whenever you please.
One of the big draws of the movie theater is the popcorn. It’s almost impossible to go to a theater and not get a big ole bucket of buttery deliciousness. But while popcorn is great and a nice treat, it’s also not the only thing you can or want to eat while you’re in a movie theater. Plus, while whatever that thing they call butter is really, really good, there’s no way it’s natural and healthy. It’s okay once in a while. But it definitely will take a toll if you eat it often.
But beyond popcorn, having an actual meal while watching a movie can be a lot of fun. Ever heard of dinner and a show? It’s a great way to spend a date night or to gather the family.
Of course, you can do this at the movie theater, but beyond the popcorn, the food that most theaters sell is questionable at best.
There’s the nachos, which come with a cheese that might have once come from a cow, but probably not. Then there’s the hot dogs and hamburgers, which have been sitting under that heat lamp for who knows how long. And the other option is usually candy, which is great but not a meal. What’s worse, this food is not even cheap. Everything is going to be at least $10, and considering the quality, this is a real ripoff.
Some theaters have upped their game and are offering better, more complete menus. But again, this comes with a cost. At home, you can literally eat whatever you want. You can order a pizza, make wings, cook steaks, curry, pasta. Whatever you feel like, and all at a fraction of the cost.
This helps make the experience better overall, as you’re not only saving money but you’re also eating something that is of actual quality.
Oh, and if you want to go a bit further, you can buy a popcorn machine and make high-quality popcorn that’s even better than the stuff you can get at the theater, using real butter and other ingredients to make it your own.
If you want to bring food into your movie watching experience, then it’s hands down going to be a lot better at your home theater than at the cinema.
Another big advantage your home theater offers you over the cinema is that you have a lot more choice when it comes to what you watch. When you go to the cinema, your only options are those that are showing at the time.
Of course, if something is playing that you really want to see, this isn’t as big of a deal. But if you’re in the mood for a movie and nothing is out that intrigues you, your only choice is to not watch a movie or suffer through something that you don’t really want to see.
When you’re at your home theater, you can choose from pretty much every movie ever made. Whether you buy it or rent it on Blu-Ray or stream it from one of the many streaming services available, you have so many options it can at times be overwhelming. But in the end, this is better than the alternative: having to limit yourself to just what’s available in the theater.
Ever get to the end of a movie and say, “Let’s watch another?” Maybe it’s the first part of a series, or perhaps it was just so enthralling that you want more. Or, it could just be a rainy day or night and you don’t have anything else to do.
If you’re at the movie theaters, your options at this point are to either sneak into another theater, which isn’t always recommended since you can get caught. Or, you can get back in line and buy another ticket, which is going to cost you a pretty penny.
However, when you’re in your home theater, if you finish a movie and want to watch another, all you have to do is put another one in your Blu-Ray player, or dial one up on your streaming service, and voila! It’s time for another show.
In the age of binge-watching, the home theater experience is hands down better than going to the theater.
It’s the middle of intense moment in a dramatic film. But after gulping down a large Coca-Cola, nature is calling, and it’s doing so loudly. At the theater, you’re left with a difficult choice – catch this important moment, or miss it to relieve yourself.
This is a real lose-lose situation.
However, if you’re watching a movie from home, then you don’t ever need to make this choice. All you need to do is reach over, grab the remote, and press pause. Sure, you might annoy the people you’re watching the movie with, but this is a much better alternative than missing a key moment and then having to get someone to explain to you what happened, which can annoy the other patrons in the theater.
This is also useful if a particular quiet or complicated part of the movie goes over your head. Instead of feeling lost and having to wait to see if things will start to make sense, you can just go back a little ways to rewatch what you didn’t get.
Either way, having control over the flow of the movie is a much better experience, and it’s one major reason why your home theater is better than the cinema.
As we all know, going to the movies is not cheap. With tickets averaging between $10-$15 per person, and refreshments averaging another $10 or so, taking a family of four out for the movies can easily cost you $100. If you go once per month, that’s $1,200 per year spent at the theaters. Even f you’re just going as two people, you’re still probably going to spend close to $50.
That the movies cost this much isn’t a problem in and of itself. But if we take into account the fact that the experience isn’t even as good (something we’ve been demonstrating throughout this article), then it really stops making sense.
Of course, a home theater is not free. But, overall, it is much cheaper. A medium range system costs between $2,000 - $3,000, which means if you have a family of four, you can break even in just two years, assuming you only watch one movie per month. However, if you have access to a killer home theater system, we’re willing to bet you’ll use it more, which will allow you to pay it back faster and really take advantage of the savings such a setup can offer.
Movie theaters are a public place. And while they all employ people to clean and maintain the place, we all know that this doesn’t quite go as plan. We’ve all definitely lifted our feet off the carpet and felt them stick, or touched under the chair and found a piece of gum that’s been there since the stone age. Plus, who knows how many people have sat in those chairs before you, and let’s not even talk about the bathrooms.
At your home theater, you don’t need to worry about any of this. Since it’s your place and your space, you can keep it as clean as you would like. And if it’s dirty, well, it’s your dirt, so who cares?
Although all movie theaters make a point of reminding people that they shouldn’t talk or check their phones during the show, the message never seems to really stick. There is always a cell phone going off, or a noisy group of teenagers in the back having fun at the expense of everyone else’s experience.
When this happens, you have dilemma: deal with this annoyance or be “that person” and tell them to be quiet, which often doesn’t work.
If you’re at home, not only is it not as likely for this to happen, but if it does, you will know the people who are causing the ruckus, so all you need to do is tell them to be quiet. And if they aren’t, well, then you can always kick them out!
Another big downside of going to the movie theater is that you have to share the space with complete strangers. When it’s not a particular popular movie or time, then this might not be a big deal. But for prime time showings and first-run movies, the theater will likely be crowded, and this can really detract from the experience. There’s nothing worse than having people next to you, or, worse, behind you kicking your seat.
At home, you get to choose who you let into your theater. Want to watch it all by yourself? Go for it! Or, bring in some friends, make a nice meal, and enjoy your company without having to worry about strangers ruining your good time.
So, there you have it: eleven reasons why your home theater is better than going to the cinema. However, for the sake of being balanced, we should point out that there are still some things you can get from going to a movie that you can’t get at home, such as:
There’s a reason why they call it the “big screen.” Movie theaters are simply bigger than anything you could possible put in your home, which can be a special experience, especially for action movies where there is a lot going on in one scene.
If being able to watch a film on the biggest screen possible is important to you, then it might still be worth it to head out to the cinema every now and again. Just know that you’ll be sacrificing all of the things mentioned above.
While your home theater is more than capable of delivering an experience that rivals if not beats out the one you can get at the cinema, it’s still a night in. And after a year or more of not being able to leave the house for pretty much anything other than the most essential of errands, there is a lot of value in being able to spend an evening at the cinema.
Yes, this is an expense. And, yes, the experience of watching the film might not be as good. But you’re out and about, and that can often feel really good. Plus, if you have children and are able to organize a babysitter, going to the movies can be a nice excuse to get out of the chaos for a bit and take some time for yourselves.
The other big thing movie theaters still have is that they are the go-to place for first-run movies. When you depend on your home theater, you need to wait for new content to become available on streaming or on Blu-Ray.
Typically, you only need to wait three to four months for this to happen, and during the pandemic a lot of studios have begun releasing films in theaters and on demand at the same time. But, in general, to be able to stay fully current on all the movies that are out there, you will need to go to the theaters.
However, there are still plenty of movies to see, so if you want to get a better experience, all you need to do is learn to wait a little bit to see all of the newest films, an adjustment that really doesn’t take all that much time to make.
As you can see, staying home and watching movies in your home theater can be a much better experience than watching them at the cinema. But for this to actually be true, it’s important to have a home theater system that can deliver a quality experience.
In general, however, this isn’t so hard to do. Just keep the following things in mind:
The room you choose to use for a home theater is super important to the experience you will get. Smaller rooms tend to be better as they create a more immersive experience. And if you can choose a space where there is not a lot of light, even better.
Another thing to keep in mind is the floors. Hardwood floors are going to cause the sound to bounce around, which is disorienting and will detract from the overall experience.
If possible, a carpeted room in a finished basement is the ideal choice, but if you can’t make this happen, then choose another room and try to make it look as much like this as possible.
After you choose the room for your home theater system, the next thing you need to consider is the centerpiece of your setup: the television.
For this, you have several options: LED, OLED, or projection.
Projectors will help you get the biggest screen, though the quality of the image is not always as good. Plus, bigger isn’t always better. If the screen takes up an entire wall in the room, this can actually be too big.
Instead, for most people, a 55” – 75” will probably work, but also consider the size of the room. If all your furniture is going to be within five feet of the screen, then a smaller television is actually probably going to be better.
In terms of screen type, OLED screens are the best. They deliver the sharpest contrast and the image quality doesn’t degrade if you view it from an angle. However, they aren’t as bring.
LED screens are much brighter, but the contrast isn’t as crisp and the image can degrade from an angle. However, some of the more advanced LED systems out there, such as Samsungs QLED technology, rival OLED screens and can make for a great picture.
Once you’ve chosen your screen, it’s time to get your sound system. Again, the smaller the room, the better, as it means you can get more bang out of a smaller (cheaper) sound system.
Overall, the main things to look out for our power, which is measured in Watts. In general, a 100W amplifier is going to be enough for most home theater systems.
Beyond that, the next thing to pay attention to is the type and number of speakers. For a quality home theater experience, make sure you have:
Lastly, to really make your home theater awesome, it’s important to add some personal touches. Get some of your favorite furniture, put in a bar, a gourmet popcorn machine, a gaming console, or whatever else is going to make your home theater that much better, and far more exciting than going to the theater.
Going out to the movies has pretty much become a thing of the past. While it still has its advantages, today’s home theater systems are simply too good to ignore. And if you spend a little time installing a decent setup, you can enjoy all of your favorite movies in a setting that is much better than the cinema. So, as the world starts to open up and you’re drawn back to the theater, think twice and consider staying in. And when you do, enjoy the show!