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7 Reasons to go to the Movies

Between 2015 and 2023, the number of streaming services a person needed increased from one to four. Previously, Netflix alone was enough, but now if you don’t have HBO, Paramount and Disney+ (what will She Hulk do next?!) aa house is not a home.

Once you’ve paid for all those streamers, watching movies outside the house begins to seem… rather luxurious. Go out to a movie? No, you chastise yourself: We have perfectly good movies at home.

But consider… are movies at home really the same?

You may have fallen into the trap of treating a movie at home as a substitute for a movie in the theater, but those experiences are as different as a Saturday-night square dance and two-stepping in the shower.

Here are seven reasons to consider getting off your couch – and into the theater – this weekend.

  1. Group synchrony

Why do people pay thousands to attend the Super Bowl, or Cats! The Musical, when they could watch these iconic productions from home? Because there’s no at-home substitute for the roar of a crowd when it sees those performers in tights.

A live viewing changes a movie from basically a long TV episode to a communal journey you embark on with your fellow theater-goers. Feeling the edge in the air when a theater is sitting in suspense, the ecstasy of a theater in stitches, the solidarity of a theater that is clearly not enjoying what the filmmakers have set out for them –these moments bond you with your fellow attendees, and the film, in a way that’s just not possible with a solo viewing.

Psychologists call this feeling of joy and wonder we get from communal activities “group synchrony.” You can benefit from group synchrony during an art-house masterpiece or in your third viewing of Snakes on a Plane… It's watching the films in community that make those snakes (and those planes) all the more meaningful.

  1. Maybe you have a bad couch?

No judgment; furniture is expensive, and adding the cost of a quality sofa to the festival of expenses known as moving is a lot to ask. Maybe you did order a quality settee, but when it arrived the faux-leather upholstery felt more like rubber than cowhide, and you had no interest in traversing the circle of hell that is returning an already-opened and assembled piece of furniture. Whatever the situation, movie theaters will take you away from your hard-backed, lumpy, sweaty or stinky home seating into a world of smooth, clean leather and temperature-controlled bliss.

  1. Popcorn (a brief ode)

Fresh. Hot. Salty.

White. Then yellow, amber, verging on orange.

The extra dose of flavor you get when an attentive scooper adds a squirt of butter mid-way through filling the bag.

Licking the briny, fatty residue off your hands.

Sharing with someone you love. Sharing with someone you hate (slow DOWN!). Not sharing at all.

Freshly popped. Ready for you now. The movie’s about to start.

  1. Escaping the Netflix vortex

Among couples, the question, “What do you want to eat tonight?” has become associated with a passive-aggressive dance, scored to mounting frustration, as girlfriends shoot down obviously wrong suggestions and boyfriends fail to intuit their girlfriend’s secretly held culinary desires.

But the true winner of the most disruptive innocuous question is actually “What do you want to watch tonight?” Think there are a lot of meals? There are not. Realistically, you’re choosing between three to five weekday standards. You’ll settle on Trader Joe’s ravioli eventually.

There are a lot of movies. And so, tired and beaten down from a week of making adult decisions, you drift toward the path of least resistance: You open Netflix. You know you should explore further, but perhaps Netflix will provide inspiration. It’s an easy starting point. And you could look through the “Best 200 things on Netflix right now” articles to find a meaningful new film. But isn’t it so much easier if the thing you want is on the front page? One scroll away? And so, once more, you drift into the suggested feature – be it an old rom-com, or another film starring Adam Sandler and his beautiful blonde wife.

Do you want the people who churn out dating shows and agreeable Christmas rom-coms, deciding your Friday-night movie? Sometimes! But for the days you don't, break out of the top-10 bubble with the help of…

5. Professional film nerds, at your service

Who’s your movie friend? Guiding your picks, steering you away from stinkers? Maybe you had one, but lately they only seem to like WWII dramas or documentaries on cults?

Let the professionals take it from here. It’s one thing to know movies; it’s another to know movies so deeply and passionately that you wrangled that obsession into a full-time job. The programmers at Seattle’s local theaters are putting fun, mysterious, hilarious, exhilarating films in their theaters, every single night. Let them guide you.

6. Spending three hours off your phone in the theater

Face it: this might be the closest some of us get to meditation. Be inspired by the helpful instructional videos and social pressures to turn on airplane mode and enjoy the life-changing magic of giving something your undivided attention.

7. Seeing things you may never see otherwise

We know the world is losing bee species, unique languages and hope for a One Direction reunion, but did you know movies are also at risk of extinction?

Films in vintage formats are being lost to time, as experienced projectionists retire and the equipment needed to view old movies is lost or damaged. This is most pertinent to movies shot on film, but even applies to flicks on VHS and DVD.

Many films are stuck in these antique mediums. They were never converted to a digital format, and certainly aren’t available on any streaming service (for excellent coverage on these “Unstreamable” titles, check out Scarecrow’s aptly titled blog here). If you don’t have a VHS machine, DVD player or projection rig, consider coming to a theater to see these endangered films, before they’re lost forever to digital obsolescence.

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