Living with Technology: Despite home entertainment growth, theaters still in the picture
Updated 7:24 am, Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Entertainment is a huge business. And it seems to be remarkably resilient to the ups and downs of the economy.
With the advent of serious home theater that consists of huge televisions, great sound systems, virtually unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows whenever one wants them, why would anyone go to the theater?
There are a number of reasons why I still make an effort to get to the theaters.
First, let me talk about the technical aspects.
The screens. While people having a 60-inch or larger screen in their homes is not unusual, theater screens are still five or 10 times larger. If you go to one of the Bow Tie Extreme (BTX) theaters such as in Trumbull or the IMAX theaters such as in Norwalk, the screens are even larger.
The sound. Again, home theaters can be good, but having literally dozens of speakers around the theater creates a sound experience that simply isn’t available in my home or the homes of my friends.
The seats. This summer, I happened to be in Edmonton, Canada, and went to a theater there. They have some special (read: pay extra) seats that were mounted in a special way so that when there was action in the movie, such as an explosion, the seats would shake and sway. They not only had motion as part of them, but they also had additional speakers in the seats to give a more realistic experience. Very fun.
3D. Seeing movies in 3D can be quite fun. Wearing the glasses isn’t great and I look forward to technologies that don’t require them, but some of the 3D effects can be enjoyable. It’s a shame that 3D for home TVs never caught on. I have four pair of 3D glasses that have been used about twice.
Second, let me talk about the human aspects.
Going to the movies is fun. For most people, going to the movies is a social experience. One does it with family or friends, as an outing, date or event with people you like. It’s a very different experience than in one’s home.
The food. While everyone I know of complains about the $8 bucket of popcorn, it’s fun to eat out. While in Canada, I saw that the theaters I visited had a huge menu available from pizzas to sub sandwiches to poutine (look it up … yum!).
This summer, I also traveled to Orlando, Fla., and had an opportunity to go to one of the Disney theaters that offers table service to your movie seat. It included a full menu of some really good items, from appetizers to main courses to desserts. And the wait staff was available throughout the movie at the push of a button and quite discretely … including free soda and popcorn refills.
Clearly, our entertainment options continue to grow. Most digital entertainment is now on demand and available wherever you are … home, car, hotel, train, airplane.
It’s good to see that as our personal entertainment options are expanding, theaters are upping their game to make visiting them still a special and attractive experience.
Mark Mathias, a 35-year information technology executive, is a resident of Westport. His columns can be read at http://blog.mathias.org online. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.