While we're all stuck at home without much to do, one of the things that has helped us pass the time and bring us together is a great film. Children have seen their parents' old favourites, friends have streamed together across distances, and everyone has finally had the chance to see that must-watch.
But how much do we lose out on when we can't actually go to see a film at the cinema? In many ways, it seems that home viewing offers far more - there's a far wider choice of options, you can pause for toilet breaks and, most importantly, the snacks are far cheaper!
Interestingly, the ease of viewing offered by at-home movie nights can be exactly what makes them less poignant than the cinema. Having to get to the cinema for the right time, only choosing from a few new releases, and needing to stay put in their seat can all help to make the viewer more focused on the film. There's no pause fifteen minutes in when the remote-holder asks if we're going to keep watching or look for something new. You can't get distracted and start doing something else while the film becomes background noise.
However, I don't think this divide is absolute. Movie nights at home can replicate the cinema experience, and bring the best of both together. Committing to staying off Instagram, keeping the room dark, and only popping out for a toilet break if you really need it, can all help to make the film as special as if you were in the cinema - which, hopefully, we'll all be able to get back to soon.
That's not to say that watching films more casually is a bad thing. Being able to stream a blockbuster while cooking dinner, or playing a well-known comedy in the background during games night are both equally enjoyable, and also have their place.
There is also the fact that when we leave our houses, at some expense (babysitters, popcorn), a little discomfort (parking, public transport), and risk (strangers! Infection!) and we gather in a cinema at a specific time, we are – by those very actions of expense, displacement, constraint, and risk – primed to see the film in a more expanded way than when we summon it on a streaming service.