As Halloween rapidly approaches, many people are reaching for their laptops to watch either classic movies or contemporary horror films. Online streaming marks a shift in the way some people view their favorite scary movies. It’s less common for people to visit movie theaters mainly due to their inconvenience and outrageous prices. Surprisingly, Forbes published “Theaters Are Wrong to Boycott Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension,” which voices disapproval toward theater chains like Regal Cinemas for refusing to screen Paramount’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension this October. The opposition shows that theaters still have some distinct value compared to online formats in regards to viewing horror for the genre’s avid-watchers.
According to the Forbes article, certain theater chains don’t want to play the newest film in the Paranormal Activity franchise because it will go digital only 17 days after it leaves cinemas. The standard time of release dates is between three to four months. Cinemas prefer to have films that follow this time format because they believe it is the best way for them to maintain a valuable profit. Theaters argue that Paranormal Activity will take the spot of a film that will show exclusively in theaters for several months.
People against this decision, however, argue that most films make their biggest profit on the opening weekend. Because of this, it shouldn’t matter that online streaming would be offered.
For most, scary movies are all about the experience. Suspenseful films give viewers an adrenaline rush. Paramount hopes to increase revenue through theater screenings and the digital format, which presents differing atmospheres.
The theater offers an enclosed space, mostly absent of distracting sounds such as phones ringing or cars zooming past. Surround sound fills theaters, amplifying the drama and suspense central to storylines in the genre.
Many people also favor either complete darkness or the theater’s dim lighting, which can be more difficult to replicate in a house. Watching something in the privacy of your home can provide a sense of comfort. You can curl up under mounds of blankets, vastly contrasting a single cushioned seat in a movie theater. It’s harder to find a comfortable position, which aligns with the goal of most thrillers: to cause discomfort.
Horror lovers enjoy the genre because they can experience the same visceral effects—sweaty palms, increased heart rate, tense muscles—as the movie’s characters who encounter some type of threat. When scenes are so vivid that the film feels real, the audience becomes engrossed in it.
In contrast, when people use online streaming services, there’s always a chance that poor Internet connection can disrupt a dramatic scene. Poor connection results in the unpleasantness of the entire movie’s characters suddenly stuttering before a pixelated background. Lower quality can detract from the experience a theater is able to create.
When comparing the theater and home experiences for watching thrillers, viewers have more control. They can pause, fast forward or simply stop the movie whenever they please. In contrast, people visiting the movies don’t have these options, leading to a greater immersion in a chilling environment.
While movie theaters compete with online streaming services, it’s all about personal preference when it comes to deciding how to watch a recent film.
If you appreciate the craft of horror movies, however, you should venture to a local theater to experience the unsettling and exciting effects of a darkened atmosphere with high quality sound and picture.