First Words — 09 November 2014
What’s better: A movie at home or theater?

By Mark Gauert

“A lot of people have stopped going to the theater to watch movies. But what they don’t realize is that it’s just not the same. Movies are meant to be a shared experience.” Irwin Levenstein, membership director of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Nov. 7-23.

Let’s consider the movie-in-a-theater vs. the movie-at-home experience in an objective, side-by-side, highly scientific comparison.

The Wait

Theater: First-run movies! No waiting.

Home: Movies after literally everyone else – airline passengers, prison inmates, the crew of the International Space Station – has seen them. (Sometimes twice).

Advantage: Theater.

The Screen

Theater: Up to 60-by-80 feet. (Recently installed at AutoNation IMAX 3D Theater in Fort Lauderdale).

Home: Up to 17.5-by-31.5-inches. (Recently installed at home in a cabinet we  can close so company won’t think we watch TV all the time).

Advantage: Theater.

The Sound

Theater: Up to 32,000 watts of digital surround sound. (IMAX again).

Home: Watts? More like whats? (Would sound better if TV was not in a cabinet).

Advantage: Theater.

The Food & Drink

Theater: Truffle Parmesan Fries, Jalapeño Chipotle Big Burger, Cinnamon Apple Crumble and “service at the push of a button” at AMC Dine-In Theatres. Full cocktail bar.

Home: What’s left at the bottom of the chip bag, what’s possibly hummus and frozen pizza, served after the push of a microwave button. Cocktail bar limited to whatever company left behind the last time they came over.

Advantage: Theater.

The Distractions

Theater: Fellow moviegoers texting, talking on cellphones, crackling Jalapeño Chipotle Big Burger wrappers, calling crew of International Space Station with key plot details, herding domestic animals/livestock. Full cocktail bar.

Home: Same. (Limited cocktail bar).

Advantage: Theater.


The Cleanup

Theater. None necessary. Get up after movie, leave.

Home: Same. (*Note: This article’s factual accuracy is disputed).

Advantage: Theater.


The Reviews

Theater: Instant reviews shared on 3×5 cards thumbtacked to corkboard in lobby. Lively discussions ensue involving filmmaking techniques. 

Home: Instant reviews shared verbally that if I make the home audience sit through ONE MORE crashing, exploding, teleporting or Terrence Malick film, I will be thumbtacked to corkboard in garage. Lively discussions ensue involving spousal selection techniques.

Advantage: Corkboards.

So there you have it, as we move not only into the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, but the overall season of the arts, previewed this issue. You may argue about it in a booth at Monk’s Cafe with the inimitable Jason Alexander, profiled this issue; or with Former Governor – and avid moviegoer – Jeb Bush, who we also talked with before this weekend Jeb Bush Florida Classic gala for Cystic Fibrosis. Chew it over a steak or burger at one of Fine Dining writer Rececca Cahilly’s favorite restaurants; or at a healthy juice bar in Boca or Delray or at a full cocktail bar, stocked by a wine expert for Thanksgiving.

But in objective, side-by-side, highly scientific comparisons, life is always meant to be shared.

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