The Great Debates: Home vs Theatre

Here we go folks, our next Great Debate. I have a feeling this one might wind up unbalanced, but let’s see how it turns out.

Where do you prefer to watch movies?

Click through to read “The Tale of the Tape”!

Movie Theatre

The Pros

  • Can see movies as soon as they’re released
  • Huge screen
  • 3D
  • Loud sound
  • It’s a destination – you can get out

The Cons

  • Ticket prices
  • Expensive snacks
  • Distractions from other movie goers
  • Have to travel to and from
  • Those with children may have to get babysitters or be restricted to family movies

Home Viewing

The Pros

  • Cheaper
  • Provide your own food/beverages
  • You can control the movie (Pause, Rewind, FF, etc)
  • Dont have to go anywhere
  • Can talk without disturbing strangers
  • No need for babysitters, etc…

The Cons

  • Have to wait to see the movie
  • Movie may lose something in transition to smaller screen
  • No audience reaction (laughter, frights, applause, etc)
  • Doesnt count as going anywhere / doing anything 🙂


I’m sure there are more on both sides of either list. But those are the biggies, and I’m sure everyone knows what the deal is anyhow.

It’s a debate that dates back to VCRs and it’s still going on today… I have a feeling this might not be an even match up, but it is one of the most basic questions that revolve around movie watching… so let’s hear it! Which do YOU prefer? Home or Theatre?!


96 thoughts on “The Great Debates: Home vs Theatre

  1. This is a tough one. I think it all depends on the film. There have been many movies that I’ve recommended where the main reason has been “you need to see it on the big screen to get the full affect”. There are other films that just are made to be seen in theaters, such as Avatar. At the same time, there’s a countless number of movies that I’ve said “ah, I’ll wait for the video” and do just that.

    For the record, I voted At the Theater.

    • Yeah, there’s nothing like the big screen and the bombast of the surround sound to give you that big blockbuster movie feeling. You know though, home theatres are even starting to catch up there… I mean, 15, 20 years ago when it was like Theatre or VCR there would have been no contest! But now with big screen tvs, home theatre sound systems, blu ray… etc. Home is catching up!

      • It’s not possible to not see how much home entertainment is catching up with movie theaters, and to be honest I can’t tell you that if given the choice of seeing a movie on release day at the theater OR at home that I’d pass up on just watching it at home…but blockbusters are meant to be experienced (not just seen) at the theater with a packed audience.

        My experience, along with my 8 year old, just a month ago to see The Avengers only reinforced my feeling on that. I wouldn’t have traded that for anything in the world; it may be my all-time greatest movie going experience.

      • (Nodding)

        There’s nothing like a great audience. If I were gauranteed one every time, it would remove my biggest gripe about the theatres. Cause there’s nothing worse than an inconsiderate one…

    • Right with you on this one. Especially with ticket prices getting higher and higher these days, with me it’s a case of “do I need to see it at the cinema?”. If the answer’s no, I’ll just wait.

  2. When you have kids, it simply becomes easier to wait until they come out on blu-ray. Maybe someday when they are all grown up and I can trust them alone at home, that will change. I also think it looks better on blu-ray rather than the big screen, but that’s just my opinion. Not to mention, it’s cheaper to buy the blu-ray and then you can watch it over and over if it’s worth it. And before I buy anything, I check with your review first. Keep up the good work Fogs, gonna purchase The Grey next.

    • The Grey’s a good one man. I’ll be surprised if you dont like it I think. Hit me up with your thoughts on it one way or another after you’ve checked it out.

      I’m going to add kids in on these lists I think on the pros and cons… tahnks for bringing that to mind!

  3. I prefer to watch at home for all of the reasons listed above. The most prominent reason is that the tickets are too expensive, and usually you end up spending far more money than the movie is worth (i.e. the movies are almost always terrible). But there are some times I can’t resist, usually those big “event” movies like Dark Knight, Hobbit, James Bond, etc.

    • “some times I can’t resist, usually those big “event” movies like Dark Knight, Hobbit, James Bond, etc.”

      I have a feeling that’s going to wind up a very common sentiment here today. I used to be like that myself. LOL. Pre-FMR.

  4. While there are always potential annoyances from fellow theatre patrons, and having to sit through commercials for Coke and cars drives me crazy, and ticket prices continue to climb…there’s simply no comparison between the experience of seeing a movie on a huge screen in a dark theatre vs. watching it at home, no matter how nice a set-up you have. Big screen all the way!

    • Alright, alright. I hear that.

      In fairness, at least at my theatres they start the actual trailers at the official start time… commercials are playing only if youre there early (which of course, we are).

      LATELY though? I’m getting sick of trailers. SO many of them it seems now. Endless.

      • My only problem with trailers is when they give too much away. Which happens way too often. I was in a theater recently and the Prometheus trailer came on. I closed my eyes, jammed my hands over my ears and tried to make noises in my head so that I wouldn’t know anything. I feel like I already know too much about that one. But the problem is rampant, of course. Trailers were always one of my favorite things about going to movies, but they gotta cut down on the spoiler factor.

      • 😮 You havent watched the Prometheus trailers yet??

        They’re like, the greatest trailers EVER!!

        I dont know if they contain anything spoilerific, geez, I hope not! But they sure as hell do the job of getting a person psyched for a movie!!

  5. The movie industry seems to be headed for in-home same day release viewing, theater and DVD. It makes a lot of sense. The in-home technology is incredible and is still advancing. The biggest advance is sound. True HD surround sound can match a theater experience(when you get the hookup Daniel you’ll see what I mean). Visual not so much. 3D has been around for ever and I remember seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” in Panavision 70 on a screen the size of two of today’s mini-theaters that literally put me in the desert and that was 40plus years ago! Some times going to the movies today is like a cattle roundup. I don’t find waiting in an endless line and elbowing and trampling people to get 4 seats together to be a pleasant experience!

    • Well, eventually, yes…. except I wonder if an at Home/in Theatres simultaneous release will spell the end of theatres. Not that people wouldnt want to go still, but the drop off would kill their margins enough that they would close by the scores…

      Either way, if they do that theyre going to have to work a MUCH more effective price point. They wanted to try “Tower Heist” on PPV two weeks after release for $60. I found that laughable…

  6. I have long been a believer in the theatrical experience – and not just for event films like THE AVENGERS, THE DARK KNIGHT, or THE HOBBIT. I also believe in the theatrical experience for indie films, documentaries, and even certain classics if they are being seen for the first time.

    The reason is focus.

    When you’re watching movies at home, no matter how wonderful your set-up, the likelihood of distraction is much higher. Your phone is right there, your computer is right there, the fridge is right there, other people can be coming in and out, there’s the temptation to “just pause so I can…”

    In a theatre, the lights go down and (ideally) most of those distractions go away. You are more dialed-in to what you are seeing, and thus will probably take more away from it in the end.

    The inarguable equalizer is money, so I understand how someone would say “Given what it’ll cost in gas and hiring a babysitter, I can wait six months to see MOONRISE KINGDOM”. But all things being equal, I take the theatrical experience to maximize the film’s effect.

    • Heh heh heh.

      “My ipad is right there, I’ll just check the blog…” LOL

      I wish I was able to focus on the film 100% all of the time. I’ve always found that to be a good indicator of how good the movie was… how wrapped up in it I got. And youre right, you definitely do lose that at home.

      But man… WHO CAN WAIT 6 MONTH FOR MOONRISE KINGDOM?? Come on!! 😀

      • Certainly not me, but I’d wager those who say “You MUSt go to the theatre to see THE AVENGERS, THE HOBBIT, etc” wouldn’t lump in artier titles like MOONRISE KINGDOM, COSMOPOLIS, or MAGIC MIKE…which are some of the ones I’m looking most forward to. (Artsy elitist, I admit it.)

        I must also mention that the mindset I have right now comes from being having four theatres within a fifteen minute walk, and passing three others between home and work. The theatrical experience is a luxurious convenience for me, so my say in this discussion should come with not a grain, but a heavy dose of salt.

  7. I’d always rather see it in cinema but it is a shame the experience can sometimes be ruined by others. Then again if I had a really decent home cinema set up, maybe it would be different. Can’t believe at time of voting, home is winning in the poll!

    • They’re neck and neck now, but it’s early going. This isnt a very glamourous topic, so I dont expect “High Turnout” but we’ve still got a ways to go, it’ll be interesting.

      And that – exactly – used to be my number one reason for not going to the theatre. I just take the incosiderate asshole possibility right out of play.

      Of course, I cant do this and NOT be at the theatre, so thats ancient history, but still.

  8. Fogs is that a pic of your home theater set up? I also thought you had written up a review of Nicki Minaj video for a minute. 😉

    I think it entirely depends upon the film. Shelling out $25 just to get my brother and I into a film gets me pretty steamed if it sucks. That is not counting grabbing some popcorn and drinks.

    I just started using the vudu service and they stream some current and pre releases films which is actually cheaper than going to the theater.

    • Tuh. Dude. Let me tell you how %$#&ing glad I’ll be when they switch that ad off. Gahd. Obviously I have no input as to which ads get displayed. I’d have no issues adevrtising Pepsi, mind you, but their banner clashes with my coolness. LOL

      Vudu? Cant be legal, can it?

      • yeah totally legit, I access it through my xbox but its also available on ipad etc. I think it might be through walmart of all places.

      • you gots an xbox!!! we will have to pwn some noobs together sometime. All 3 guys have xbla accounts. I will email you are gamertags.

      • Ok, cool. LOL. Definitely will add you.

        Truth is though, I’ve “retired” from gaming for almost a year. Cause of this place. Last thing I need is to crack out on Skyrim and vanish off the face of the blog for a month. But it can happen. Totally…

      • i hear that, we usually game late night and mostly FPS although I am slogging through Mass Effect 2

  9. It’s been said before but I think it definitely depends on the movie. Blockbuster/spectacle movies are definitely made for cinema, and the atmosphere in a comedy is heightened by a room full of laughing people, whereas quiet, human dramas feel better on a more personal, small screen viewing.

    I’m lucky as far as cinema is concerned because my local one offers an unlimited card for £15 a month (roughly the price of a new DVD).

    • I’ve heard about those! I just heard someone on the lambcast talking about one not too long ago. I’m thinking about researching further, but I bet there have to be restrictions against like opening night showings or opening weekend or something – in which case, it wouldnt be useful to me.

      Meanwhile, if it worked, I’d save SO much money! LOL 😀

      • Mine doesn’t seem to have those kind of restrictions, and they even offer advanced previews for card holders occasionally. Worth finding out if any of your local cinemas offer anything like that.

        Speaking of “local cinemas” I just have to say that the negative regarding audiences doesn’t really apply too much over here in the UK: we laugh at funny moments but that is it, no gasping or cheering or whooping or any of that distracting stuff. When I lived in the States for a year I got sick of going to opening nights because there was too much “audience participation” going on for my liking, so I could never really lose myself in the film.

  10. It really depends on the movie for me. If I figure there is a 90% chance I will really enjoy the film, I will do what I can to catch it in the theater. But if I don’t expect it to be amazing or anything, there’s a good chance I will just wait for the DVD and do the $1 rental from Redbox instead.

    • Yep, I’m w/ Eric in that it depends on the movie. Some movies [like TDKR, Avengers, etc] I have to see on the big screen, but those I’m just mildly interested in, I prefer to see at hom.

    • 😀 How do you base your estimates? How do calculate your enjoyment probablity mathematically? LOL. I’d like to work something like that in to my reviews! This movie disappointed the shit out of me! Especially since it had an 85% probability of enjoyment! 😀

  11. I have to agree with half the people here. It depends on the movie. Would I pay to go see a chick flick like Titanic, no. Avengers, hell yeah.

    One pro you forgot to list, maybe it only applies to me, is beer. I love drinking a finely crafted brew while watching movies. Now that I have a large Smart 3D plasma, 3D glasses and a 3D Blu-Ray player, I like watching from home. Though most of my Blu-Ray are not in 3D.

    We usually do matinee because of ticket prices. It costs me $30 for all 5 of us to do matinee, would be 50+ during normal times. But you hit all the major points.

    I voted for home because I haven’t yet found a comfortable theater seat. Even through Avengers I kept shifting and twitching.

    • LOL I should amend the post: Pros – Alcohol friendly.

      Matinees are a good idea. Seriously. At first I was trying to hit as many of them as I could in order to save the $ (cause it adds up) Especially for 3d. But now I just prefer to get my theatre time wrapped up in one night.

  12. I guess answering “both” would be cheating? If it wasn’t for home viewing options, I would have missed out on a ton of good films. If it wasn’t for the theater, production values would suffer, and all we’d have would be “made for TV” and “direct to DVD” quality stuff.

      • haha what can I say? I just love movies, no matter the location! I do admit that I always feel empty inside when I leave the theater, and watching them at home makes them easier to review…so I guess “home” is my choice.

  13. I love watching movies in the theaters. It is an event. I can watch movies at home whenever I want, but I can’t do the same in a theater…

    • It’s true. Its far more commonplace. Tried to pay a nod to that fact in the pros and cons…. Cause youre right, It definitely CAN be an event. I remember a lot of trips to the theatre… but I barely remember any home viewing experiences. Not that I dont remember some of the shocks or surpises or first viewings of movies I’ve seen for the first time at home. But its the movie I remember, not the experience.

  14. I watch most of my movies at home. Not all — I do enjoy making it out to the theatre once in a while, especially for the big “spectacle” films where the larger screen really helps out. But for most situations, the cons of the theatre greatly outweigh the pros. It’s pricy, it’s time-consuming (20 minute drive either way for me), and other people can mar the experience. Sure, at home I may have to deal with the occasional phone call, but I can stop the movie (if it’s not on TV) and deal with the call; at the movies, I can’t stop someone else from whipping out their phone and texting or making a call. It’s gone down recently, but it still happens, and it’s still distracting. And then there are the distractions inherent to having a crowd… I know some people like the “experience” of sharing a movie with a large group of people, but I’m not one of them. I’m not there to watch you. And although I don’t begrudge somebody laughing, cheering, or clapping at appropriate parts of the movie… yeah, it’s a distraction. It takes me out of the movie. Sometimes it interferes with the movie; there were a few times with The Avengers where I had trouble hearing what was being said because the audience was still laughing over what had just happened. With my sensitive hearing, I was probably the only one who heard the “Puny god” line.

    Then, too, there are only a few movies where the theatre really adds to it. The spectacles. And even most of them are still pretty good at home. I watched Avatar for the first time at home; I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anything. I think the only time we’ve said “This must be seen on the big screen or it’s not worth it” has been when it was otherwise not a very good movie, such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon. And when spectacles aren’t the only movies out there… well, I don’t think the typical comedy, rom-com, or mystery really gains anything significant from the big screen. I’m usually content with my television and my computer monitor. (Wouldn’t mind having a friend’s set-up, though; he’s got a digital projector from Sony that takes any kind of input a TV can take, and a surround sound system. It really is a home theatre.)

    If it’s not one of the spectacles, I seldom go to the movies any more, especially if I can’t arrange for a “quiet” showtime in the off-hours. And the main reason I’ll go to something early when the crowds are big is if it’s something where I’m hoping to avoid having it spoiled for me, such as The Avengers.

    • I think the only time we’ve said “This must be seen on the big screen or it’s not worth it” has been when it was otherwise not a very good movie, such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon.


      Smart man. In the theatre that was like a B range experience for me, because there were tons of moments where I was like, WOWWWWW

      At home? Not so much. 😀

      Its definitely a pain if the theatre is a haul… I’m lucky I have one five minutes up the road. I can leave 15 minutes before a showtime and make it in for the trailers.

      • Yeah, see, for me everything is at least 15 minutes away, except for the post office and inept grocery store in the little dot-on-the-map town that’s 5 minutes away in the other direction. It’s literally a ten minute drive for me just to hit city limits. Very few things are spur-of-the-moment decisions, unfortunately.

  15. I feel like I have to say theater. That said I don’t go to the theater that often. School and money play a large part in that. Still, as much as I enjoy watching movies at home, seeing them in a theater is still great. I feel like going to a theater has more cons for me, but there a movies that just aren’t the same as seeing them in the theater. There are those big blockbuster spectacles that you kinda have to see in a theater. Then there are films where it’s more a matter of seeing it with people, over where you see it. Comedies seem to fare better depending on who you are watching it with.

    I basically go to the theater to see films that I feel need to be seen in a theater, if it’s just something I really want to see/don’t want to wait to see, or if I’m invited (depending on who that is – I refuse to see movies with some people. They ruin the experience.)

    • Comedies are a big big plus at the theatre. Your theatre experience can really really be a benefit to a comedy.Nice point, Nic.

      LOL. Its funny you talk about going with everyone or being invited or something. I should have worked that into the pros and cons. A lot of people dont like to go to the theatre alone. So that means, they have to work out company… I USED to be like that. LOL Obviously, I go by myself now quite a bit! 😀

      • I go a lot by myself. I have different tastes than some friends and if I waited on them to want/be able to go, I’d miss out on a lot of films I’d want to see.

  16. I know you read my recent post, so it’s probably no surprise to know that I prefer watching movies at home. One of the home cons can also be worked around if you know where to look. And you can also have great sound and 3D if you have the money to spend on it. I like the more intimate experience of having it be just me and my family together watching a movie.

    • I did, I just got derailed prior to actually commenting…

      Having a five year old (I think you said that’s her age) can make a big difference.

      I have a pretty good home set up, but I’m not about to invest anything in Home 3d until it is much, much, much more established. No way I’d blow that kind of money right now.

  17. I vote home. I prefer being in full control of what I’m watching, having the option to pause and rewind etc. I also like the fact that at the end I can fast forward through the credits to see if there is an added scene rather than sitting in the cinema while people leave around me.

    I would have also added 3D to the negative list for cinema. In some cases that is your only option for watching the film if you want to see it on the big screen and I think its an awful gimmick.

    • I like 3D – when its done right. Thats why I put it as a pro. But I understand what youre saying. That would be an annoying surcharge if you have no option and you dont like it in any case. I feel ya.

      You also bring up another good point about the post credit stuff. I’m sick of it. End the movie and be done. I’m tired of waiting, I’m tired of the movie finishing but then getting what should be like DVD material…

      Its not special anymore, its practically commonplace.

    • Ben is right on the 3D. It annoys me to no end when a movie is ONLY offered in 3D. I had to watch Avengers in 3D and was none to happy about it.

  18. Theater is better. (3D is NOT a pro however). But honestly, I don’t get why people complain so much about other people in the theaters. May be its just where I live, but I almost never have a problem with other people. They usually turn their cell phone off and shut up by the time previews are over.

    Ticket prices suck, yes, but so do gas prices.
    As for the children con… well… I’ll worry about that when I have to worry about it. So right now, not a con.

    Expensive snacks, okay. But theater popcorn is always better than homemade, so there is that. Plus, you don’t really need snacks.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love watching movies at home. But the theater experience is exactly that: and experience.

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