“Do you want to go to the movies?” The phrase echoes through American culture, evoking images of awkward teenagers making date plans, friends organizing an outing and families having wholesome fun. For decades, a trip to the movies was a staple of the American experience. But lately, that staple has begun to come undone.

Fewer Americans are seeing movies in theaters. While movie prices increase, the number of tickets sold has dropped nearly 11 percent between 2004 and 2013, according to a report from the Motion Picture Association of America. Speculated causes for the jettison of the movie theater range from online streaming to rising prices to overall laziness.

There is certainly something to be said for unwinding with a movie in bed or on a couch without having to face weather or other people. After an exhausting day of dealing with the approximately 40,000 people on this campus, it can seem like a gift to fall into someone else’s world without even leaving your bedroom. If I’ve learned anything from the enlightened reflections of my peers on the app Yik Yak, it’s that college students are more than happy to use sites like Netflix and Hulu as fodder for our procrastination.

Theaters are hoping to prove there’s more to the experience they offer than meets the eye by making not the movie, but the actual theater, the center of attention. To distinguish themselves from the comfortable atmosphere of a home, many theaters are becoming increasingly high end with reserved seating and gourmet food. Over winter break, walking into the my childhood movie theater was a shock to my nostalgic system. It was transformed from my quaint, dirty and cheap theater to a bougie hell with waiters serving your choice of prosciutto and melon balls or puff pastry kisses. Upon arriving and being introduced to the iPads that would be seating us as opposed to an actual human being, my technologically impaired parents were ready to get out their flip phones and reject the experience altogether. We decided against popcorn that cost almost as much as the tickets and finally got into our seats, which the iPad had so kindly prepared for us.

But then came the most important part– the unity of a theater. A bed or couch just can’t replicate the experience of a room full of excited strangers who quiet down when the lights dim or the joy of an entire theater cracking up at the same joke. When Seth Rogen’s newest movie, “The Interview,” was available for streaming, he described his ideal situation for it’s viewing with the tweet: “I need to say that a comedy is best viewed in a theater full of people, so if you can, I’d watch it like that. Or call some friends over.” The shared emotions of everyone in the theater contributes to the intensity of the highs and lows that film can achieve. While watching a movie in a familiar setting is nice enough, there is beauty in the anonymous cover of darkness of a theater where you can laugh, blush or cry if you need to.

The coming years will decide if we stay in our cocoons, clutching at our laptops, or if we walk out blinking into the bright lights, marching to the beat of the songs playing in the credits.

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