It's hard to be believe that a short 100 years ago, the only really accessible way to watch a moving picture was to go down to some stuffy dark room, sitting in silence while watching some random people hit each other over the heads with mallets on a big screen. Oversimplification aside, access to film and TV has had an unprecedented leap in development. These days, you’d have an easier time listing the places you are unable to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode rather than the places you can. Such access has led to even more consumption of filmic content, and thus, the creation of even more works of art. Now, don’t worry -- I’m not here to blather on about technological advancements. All of these developments have led people to suggest that the traditional movie theatre might be on its way out. I sincerely hope that we will never get to a point where this is reality.
In my eyes, the theatre is the definitive way to enjoy a movie. The atmosphere, the quality of the experience, and the sheer size of the moving image just can’t be emulated at home (unless you’re super rich and have a huge home theatre). There's a certain investment that comes from going to the theatre to see a movie. When you watch something at home on Netflix, you can pick whatever you want from a wide library. If you start watching something you don’t like, it takes two seconds to switch to something else. In the theatre, you buy your ticket, so just going and switching movies isn't an easy option. You have to be pretty confident that you’ll like the movie you're going to see. This creates a certain amount of focus for you and everyone else watching the movie. I find that when I watch anything at home, I tend to get distracted, occasionally glancing at my phone or some other attention-grabber. The in-theatre focus lets me appreciate everything about the film without distraction.
If all that isn’t enough, there's always the huge size of the screen. You’ll only find a better picture quality in an IMAX theatre, but that’s really just a better version of the normal view. There are no background distractions; it’s just you and your full focus on the screen. There's a level of immersion that the big screen creates that really can’t be matched by a home TV (besides the aforementioned house theatre).
All things considered, I think what really makes the theatre most special for me is the sound. There's an indescribable excitement that comes from some loudly played theme music at the climax of a story. For the same reason people enjoy rock concerts, some things are just better experienced loudly. The delivery of lines become all-consuming waves. The stomp of a footstep on the pavement. The sheer all-consuming power of volume absorbs you to a level that can’t be obtained anywhere else. The space itself is optimized for the best possible listening experience.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think being able to watch movies and TV at home or on the go is great. It gives more opportunities for the creation of content. This means having content more accessible for people who don't want to go to the theatre for every single film. All that aside, it doesn't mean that past technologies have no place left in the world. Having multiple options doesn't mean that the old needs to be laid aside. Even as technology gets farther ahead, theatre will still be around. No matter the enhancements, the magic of going back to your roots is just something that can't be emulated any other place.