Streaming services received a facelift over quarantine. Once exclusively known for older TV shows and service-specific original content, the closure of movie theaters due to COVID served as a catalyst for the addition of streaming newly released, in-theater movies.
HBO Max and Disney+ have been the companies taking the reins on this new experiment. HBO Max, which is owned by AT&T via WarnerMedia, has been streaming every new movie from their offspring film production company, Warner Bros, since the end of 2020. Disney+, owned by The Walt Disney Company and notably home to Marvel media, has kept most of its content to the streaming service, but has decided that all remaining 2021 Disney movies will be released in theaters before running on the service.
But, as the world returns to normal and movie theaters begin to reopen, this creates the dilemma. Where do you watch dual release movies?
In late August, I went to see Hugh Jackman’s new movie, Reminiscence, in theaters, even though the movie was also available for me to watch at home as an HBO Max subscriber. Aside from the critics’ reviews rating the movie a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes (I thought it wasn’t that bad), let’s talk strictly about the theater vs. at-home experience.
I went with a friend and as it would turn out, we were the only ones in the theater for that showing. Of course, we had to pay for tickets (not bad) and food (ridiculously overpriced). Normally, our masks would have been on the entire time, but we abandoned that rule being the only two there, and being fully vaccinated.
Before the show, we sat through a few previews summarizing the entire movie world, which were played way too loud. Luckily, the audio was leveled out for the actual movie.
The reclining chairs were a nice touch, but nothing special.
I will say, seeing a movie on a big screen is both a blessing and a curse. It’s almost surreal seeing every small detail. However, it can seem like there’s just too much to see, and you may miss an easter egg or two.
But I can’t forget about the at-home experience. After I watched Reminiscence in theaters, I definitely had some questions about the plot. So, I watched it again at home on HBO Max.
At home, you’re definitely in control. I could rewind if I didn’t understand something, and I could pause and resume for whatever reason when necessary. Also, the sound quality of your headphones really does top the in-theater sound: it’s right there in your ears and I can control it to my liking. Interruptions don’t carry the same weight at home.
I can’t forget to mention the beauty of having closed captions available. First and foremost, it helps those with hearing problems have better access to media. But aside from that, have you ever not completely understood something a character said? Of course you have. Being able to know exactly what characters are saying only elevated the watching experiences. Unfortunately, this accommodation doesn’t commonly appear in theaters.
Although it’s possible to find ways to sneak around the “no outside food” rule that’s embedded into theaters, it’s more hassle than hopeful. At home, maybe you don’t have golden, artificially buttered popcorn or hotdogs or ICEEs, but maybe you do have BoomChickaPop and water where you don’t have to pay for the bottle.
As much as I love the “high end” reclining chairs at theaters, my bed is 100% more comfortable. Movie theaters also tend to be freezing cold, and at least I have blankets at home.
Movie theaters were what we grew up on. Going out and seeing movies in communal settings was fun while it lasted. But, now that we can watch newly released movies at home with more comfort and convenience, it’s all the perks with none of the disruptions. It’s time to leave movie theaters in the dust.