Louis Lumiere invented the motion picture back in the gas-lit 1890′s. Today watching films is as popular a form of entertainment as it has ever been, and there are more ways to watch than ever before.
There are a lot of advantages to going to one of the big cinema chains. They have the latest releases and enough showings to go when it suits you. They will have big screens and the latest in sound-systems and 3D. There can often be downsides though, from unruly and disruptive patrons, to a movie-going environment that can be far from optimal.
Unfortunately the days of a dedicated and expert projectionist overseeing each and every showing are in the past for multiplex audiences. This can lead to a situation where there can be problems with the projection and there is no-one to take care of it. If you find yourself in a screening that is messed up like this it is always worth complaining. As long as you are nice to the lowly paid staff they will usually just give you some free tickets. The same goes if a bunch of rowdy teenagers ruin the film by loudly chatting on their phones the whole time.
If you are a subscriber to the mantra that “bigger is better” then Imax cinema is for you. When you first go to an IMAX theatre the sheer size of the screen will take your breath away. Films have to be especially made to be projected in the IMAX format – but this is something that directors are increasingly opting to do for big releases. Ridley Scott’s massively hyped Prometheus received an IMAX release, as will the eagerly anticipate Dark Knight Rises Batman flick. The only real downside to eye-popping IMAX is the price.
Britain’s independent cinemas have had to fight hard to establish a niche for themselves. There are some great ones around. Independent cinemas are often the only way to see smaller releases on the big screen. Great if you like films with subtitles, or subtext.
Pop Up Cinemas
In recent years there have been a number of film showings that have sought to disrupt the traditional cinema model. Many music festivals will have a cinema tent, and outdoor showings in parks can attract big audiences on summer evenings. If you are in the know you can even go to the Secret Cinema.
Finding a Secret Cinema showing is no easy task. Getting tickets can often require following cryptic clues through social media. In the tradition of the illegal rave the locations are just revealed at the last minute. Prospective audience members must wait in a location, dressed in a certain way, waiting to be led to the screening. Its all themed of course, and a real event.
Home Sweet Home
There are a lot of pluses to watching films at home. You can pause the movie if you need to take a comfort break, the company is select, and nobody is going to charge you £5 for a cup of lemonade or kick you out if you spark up a smoke (disclaimer: house rules may vary).
It is not just DVD, Blu-Ray and for the retro minded VHS. Digital distribution is alive and well. The way was forged by the bad and wrong naughty pirates, with their streams and torrents. Piracy is of course destroying the movie industry, but fortunately legal alternatives are catching up in terms of convenience and choice.
The Amazon owned LoveFilm offers several thousand films for their subscribers to watch instantly on their PCs or through games consoles. Netflix in the USA has offered a similar service, and recently launched in the UK. Despite having a better range of TV shows, the film selection has received a certain amount of criticism for its bargain bucket nature. There are some free alternatives too: Reddit have a list of films you can watch for free in the UK. These are ostensibly all above board and on sites such as YouTube.
What’s your favourite way to watch a film? What grinds your goat about cinemas? Tell us all in the comments!