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Pass The Popcorn

Written by Jordan Randall
Photography by Jason Stephens

As major motion pictures continue to be released both in theatres and on streaming services, there has never been a better time to step up your movie watch party game.

1905, John P. Harris and Harry Davis opened a five-cents-admission movie theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By 1914, an estimated 27 percent of Americans were going to the movies every week. Since then, going to the movies has been a part of our culture for as long as movies have existed. We go as kids, as families, as teenagers, and as adults. We go nervous on a first date and on opening night with our closest friends. Going to the movies is as American as baseball, and like anything else, it’s a process that has evolved over time. Given the circumstances of the last few years surrounding the pandemic, that evolutionary process has been sped up and forced the movie-going process to change. Maybe forever.

In late 2020, Warner Brothers announced that every 2021 movie would be launched simultaneously in theatres, as well as, HBO Max. Before this, there had never been a way to watch theatrical releases at home. Watching exclusive theatrical releases at home was a very exclusive and very rare accommodation, known only to the most connected and most affluent. Now that’s entirely changed. Similar to Warner Bros.––Disney announced something called “Premier Access” for Disney Plus, allowing you to pay a one-time $30 fee on top of your subscription that allows you to watch a movie from the comfort of your own home while it’s still playing in theatres.

Paramount, Amazon, Netflix, and other companies have all focused heavily on streaming releases for major motion pictures during this time. And it wasn’t all met with peace and understanding. Director Christopher Nolan, famed director of The Dark Knight and Interstellar, announced that he was extremely disappointed by the move from Warner Bros. to co-release all of their theatrical releases on HBO Max and has since left the studio for Universal Pictures after nearly 20 years of work together. “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” said Nolan (Hollywood Reporter, Dec. 7,2020), a fierce defender of the importance of the theatrical experience. 

While I agree with Nolan— the theatrical experience is irreplaceable and vastly integral to the process of consuming the art form of film; I do think there is a middle ground here. There has to be because the movies have already changed, maybe forever. Now it’s just a matter of if we are willing to change and evolve with it.

While this is all new territory for creatives and financial heads within the film industry, the accessibility to newly released films has seriously upped the potential for your greatest movie nights at home. With new releases coming to our living rooms for the first time in the hundred-plus-year movie-going history, the pressure for your movie-watch parties is on. Try not to sweat it though, I think I’ve figured it out. Here are all the different ways people are watching movies in their homes, and how you can find the best experience for you and your friends.

Looking to make memories that last a lifetime? Consider a dive-in movie experience in the pool. Just grab a swimsuit and your favorite pool floaty and let the night be the envy of your neighbors. This is one of those movie experiences you won’t have all of the time, but once or twice a year to mix things up every now and then isn’t bad at all. I’m a fan of the dive-in experience due to the level of comfort and pure comradery you feel while watching movies in the comfort of your own pool/backyard with a group of friends. Movie watching has always been an experience, and the pool just brings that experience to a new level— one that’s drenched in moonlight and good vibes. To pull off a movie night like this one, you’ll need:

  Projector

  Speakers

  Large blank wall or large white sheet

  Laptop or Apple TV

If you can scavenge those four things either yourself or maybe with the help of some friends, you’re in for a movie night destined to be photographed. Just wait for the sun to go down, and you’ll be good to go. The good news is, projectors have gone down in price quite a bit over the years, so if you’re in the market for a decent one and don’t want to break the bank, now is as good a time as ever to pull the trigger. Go ahead and grab some floatable drink/snack holders as well for the ultimate comfort experience. Your fingers and toes might be pruned by the end, but isn’t that part of the experience?

The next watch party you might consider is an at-home theatre experience. “Truly, this is more attainable than you might think”, explains Soundwaves Audio Video Interiors Lakeland, a company specializing in at-home theatre experiences and audio/video installations. If your family is the type to bond over movies, then this might be the option for you to most consider. All you need is a spare bedroom or office that’s not being used, and you can turn it into movie central. If you find yourself missing that movie theatre seating and that movie theatre-quality sound, this is for you. This is for the ones who want the best of the best, down to both the lighting and screen resolution, and want to feel the vibrations of sound from the movie below their feet. With this setup, you’ll need:

  Normal-sized bedroom or office

  Dark paint for the walls

  Projector or TV

  Speakers

  Comfy seating

Home Theatre Experts (Soundwaves Audio Video Interiors Lakeland)

Building or assembling a designated theatre room in your home outside of the already established living room can be really rewarding. It provides a space for families and friends to escape from the noise of everyday life and jump into any of the hundreds of thousands of stories told on screen. Movie theatres have always been top-tier escapism, and with the proper setup, you can truly bring that immersive escapism of a movie theatre into your own home. If you watch a lot of movies, what more could you ask for?

Last, but not least on the list is the everyday option: your living room. This is the space you probably already utilize the most for watching movies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better, right? To utilize your space and bring your living room watch parties to the fullest, you’ll need:

  Comfy couch

  Floor Pillows for extra seating

  Blankets

  Popcorn and drinks

  4K TV or Projector

  Soundbar plus subwoofer

In the living room, movie-watch parties are all about the cozy factor. Are you comfortable? Are you set up with snacks and drinks? You should be. Watching movies at home is all about the comradery of it all. This is why floor pillows are a good idea to prepare for any overflow if the couches are to fill up quickly. In the living room, it’s all about being together. Blankets, pillows, snacks, and drinks only enhance and better that experience. It’ll make guests leave your home, feeling at home. And what more could you want as a host?

As you can tell, there are many ways to host a movie watch party at home. Do I still believe in going out and visiting the theatre? Absolutely. But I believe our at-home experience with movies is just as important and has the power to give you some core memories with your friends and family. So whether you plan to have your own dive-in experience, build your own theatre, or just enhance the living room space you already have, you’re bound for good times.

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