The price of a movie ticket is about 10 bucks these days, and for the average Joe, that’s not so easy on the wallet — especially when I can so easily watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, Showtime, Xfinity TV Go or any of the numerous streaming services all of which I have already paid for. More importantly, I can do so from the comfort of my own home. The theater must offer something special for the modern moviegoer, yet it does not.

There was a time in which the movie theater was the only place where one could go see a movie. This time has long come and passed. There is something magical about sitting in a dark room with people who you don’t know, whose faces you’ve never seen, waiting in anticipation to watch a story be told. You sit in silence while the movie is projected and you take in every last detail of the film. But quite honestly, is it really worth leaving your couch?

The movie theater, try as it might, simply can’t compete with digital releases. Sure, they can make their theaters more comfortable by installing cushy reclining chairs with refrigerated cup holders but it still can’t match your own private viewing area. The theaters can have waiters serve drinks and gourmet food, but your kitchen is still closer, cheaper and more convenient. Home theater technology, although not quite as spectacular, has come a long way and creates a very theater-like experience.

With the simultaneous releases (when films are released digitally and theatrically simultaneously) happening more frequently, it seems the movie theater is losing value. Distribution companies are realizing that people are lazy, that it’s easier and more comfortable to watch a movie in one’s own home and people are willing to pay the price. Digital first releases may be more expensive to watch than an older movie but the premium price is still likely cheaper than movie tickets for two.

Additionally, many movies are not widely distributed in theaters yet interest those who don’t have access to them. Digital first releases would make art movies, which are inaccessible to those who don’t live in cities with art house theaters, available to many more people. This is something that is both beneficial for the consumer and the producer.

There will always be die hard movie fans who like to enjoy the classic cinematic experience. And there is something to be said for this experience. It is the way most films are intended to be watched but at this point in time, this way of watching movies is antiquated. In the modern world, it is difficult to carve out time for a trip to the movie theater. The modern movie watcher wants the ability to pause the movie and return to it later. The modern movie watcher wants control in their hands. The modern movie watcher wants a smorgasbord of options, all at the click of the remote.

The movie theater has lost its privileged place within society. It is no longer an essential aspect of life. It no longer offers a unique experience. The movie theater must drastically redefine what it is, its role and the experience it offers or it may cease to exist.

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