Cinema vs Streaming: Free Streams Are Great, But I’ll Keep Coming Back To The Cinema
I have a winner in this battle of cinema vs streaming
I, along with the rest of the general population, have relied heavily on my Netflix account to keep myself entertained during lockdown. With the malls closed and restaurants only offering take-out services, there’s been very little to do in order to consume my off-work hours. And I am—to put it lightly—grateful.
What do you do at the end of the day? Choose a title on your recommended movies tab. What do you do during your breaks? Browse YouTube for something fun, light and short. What do you do to keep the children entertained? Introduce them to a movie you loved as a child. Digital date? Viewing party, please.
But as much as I appreciate the technology and opportunity (and privilege) to stream at the comfort of my own home, there is no way in hell it’s ever going to replace going into a movie theater. In the battle between cinema vs streaming, I will always and inevitably choose getting consumed by the (literal) big screen.
There is a simple joy in searching for a screening time that just hits your own schedule perfectly—or having to carve out the time intentionally. There is a thrill in choosing the right snack that will keep you filled and satisfied for the duration of a film. There is a sense of camaraderie that comes with asking friends to go with you and there is a level of freedom in watching films on your own.
You cannot pause, you cannot get your money back, you cannot ask the cinema to wait for you to get inside and on your seat. Too bad if you planned a little loosely; wait for the next showing.
The lavatory strategy
Let’s be honest: Preparing for the movie does not end when you enter those theater doors. Depending on the speed of the film and the direction the plot is going, you need to time those bathroom breaks, too. Is now the right time? Maybe there will be a more opportune time to do your business later? And let’s not forget: Are you by the aisle or are you going to have to disturb people to get to the sweet sanctuary of the comfort room?
The BIG screen and the surround sound
Maybe this is just me because our television set isn’t exactly the most enormous and we don’t have surround sound at home. But I miss, more than anything, how a movie theater quite literally consumes you. A horror movie that is literally in your face and cannot be blocked out by closing your eyes and covering your ears because the score will still seep through. A slapstick comedy where you can see every inch of detail. A romantic comedy shot across a breathtaking skyline, seemingly in-scale.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a film the way it was made to be seen.
The entire thrilling experience
If it’s a great movie and everything—from the acting to the direction and the writing to the cinematography—works well together, then wonderful. If your expectations are let down, then whoops. If it isn’t what you were hoping for or it wasn’t quite where you wanted it to be, then you’ll just have to come to terms with it. But I love that once you’re in the cinema, you’re pretty much stuck there. You have to experience whatever it has to offer, because you cannot easily switch to another cinema house, you cannot simply click on a new title. And it’s because of that requirement that you sometimes end up with the best watch of your life.
I’m not here to complain about the limits of my home; this isn’t a virtual (and long) placard that not-so-subtly says, “I demand that you open up the movie houses.” It is, quite to the contrary, a quiet “I miss you” to one of the experiences that I once took for granted and can’t wait to once again complete.
(But, in case ya’ll worried, I will not be rushing to the mall when things open up. There are just some risks you can’t take—in the battle of want vs need, I choose need).
Art Alexandra Lara