On the face of it, it seems as though the future of theatrical release through cinemas is a pretty tenuous one, ticket prices keep going up while the price of DVDs and online watching keeps coming down, it’s more convenient to watch at home, if you don’t like a film you watch at home it’s easy to switch off, it feels like less of an investment. Can cinema possibly compete?

Film Releases The Future of Theatrical ReleaseYes. Apparently it can. Despite all the obvious advantages to watching at home, box office receipts are on the up. In fact, the last decade saw box office receipts at their highest ever (the previous record decade was the 1940s; people needed cheering up during the war years).

Why, when it is so much easier to just watch at home do people still choose the relative inconvenience of the cinema? Well there are a number of factors. For starters, if you’re watching a film on TV it’s likely to be interrupted by adverts every fifteen minutes or so.

Then there are films which you ‘have to see’ on the big screen (and studios make a point of pushing that factor hard in advertising); this usually applies to big budget films where you will lose some of the spectacle of them film by watching on a small TV screen; Avatar would be a good example, if it’s a film you want to see then the cinema is the only place since it’s sold almost solely on spectacle.

The other main reason that films must be seen at the cinema is when they are ‘event’ films, pictures that everyone is going to see and will be talking about; if you don’t see them at the cinema then you won’t be part of the conversation. The Harry Potter or Twilight films would be good examples.

So, even if you’re not watching films together, cinema is still a communal experience and the main reason that people continue to go to the cinema, despite the easier home option, is for the more traditional communal experience.

They say that you can tell when a film is really funny if you laugh at it alone in your home, and yet in the cinema when you are watching as part of an audience you laugh out loud at every joke. Films are the same whether you watch them at home or in a movie theatre, but the experience is very different and it’s that experience that keeps people coming back to the theatres.