10 rules to make your home cinema feel like the real thing

With the future of film and cinema currently uncertain, many distributors are now opting to give their films a digital release, and with the success of Trolls World Tour which earned nearly $100 million in just digital rentals, the future of movie releases as we know it could be changed forever.

While the success of Trolls World Tour can mostly be attributed to parents wanting to keep their kids entertained during lockdown, it will be interesting to see if any other major releases get the same response. Universal has already upset several major cinema chains by claiming that they will release their films simultaneously in theatres and digitally, so when theatres do reopen, they may struggle to achieve the same audience they were getting before. 

For many who love movies, whether they go to the cinema sporadically, regularly or if you’re like me 3 or 4 times a week, they are missing out on the cinema experience. While there are many things that can be annoying about the cinema, it is hard to deny that watching a film there offers a much different experience than watching a film in bed on your phone. 

To try and match the experience, why not try and create your own cinema with your household, whether that’s to watch films by yourself, or as a group experience with your family or housemates. We have created a list of 10 simple rules that will help you recapture the magic and unique experience of the cinema.

1. Turn off all the lights

Unlike your living room, cinemas don’t tend to have windows, so to get the full experience and reduce the glare on the screen, be sure to close all curtains and blinds, and turn off all the lights in the room. It is especially important to follow this rule if you are watching films during the day, and closing your curtains during the day is perfectly acceptable as people are losing track of what time or even what day it is anyway.

2. Turn of your phone

Just like at the real cinema, please make sure all phones are turned off, and this includes vibrate, just because your phone isn’t making a noise doesn’t mean that people can’t hear it. Anyone who breaks this rule will be subject to disappointed stares and loud tuts from the other audience members.

3. The film starts at the stated time

Films will start at the predetermined time, and anyone arriving late will be judged, especially if they have to obstruct the view of other audience members. To get the full cinema experience, be sure to add half an hour of adverts and trailers to the start of your film.

4. Charge extortionate prices for snacks

Does it really feel like a cinema unless you’ve had to massively overpaid for your snacks? So while you might be able to get your popcorn or bag of sweets from the supermarket for a quid, that doesn’t mean you can’t charge the rest of the audience triple that price. But just like real cinemas, audience members are free to sneak in their own snacks. 

5. Seating is not pre-allocated

To keep it fair, there will be no pre allocated seating. Seating will be decided on a first come basis, so if you don’t want to end up sitting on the floor for two hours, you better make sure you get there early. 

6. No pausing the film

Once the film has started, there will be no pausing throughout, just like in a real cinema. If you need to use the bathroom, you will just have to wait for the right moment to miss, or if you don’t want to miss a thing, prepare beforehand. This applies no matter what the film, even if you’ve chosen to watch something like the marathon that is The Irishman. One exception to this rule is a brief intermission between films if you are watching a double feature. 

7. No questions

While it is as equally annoying in the real cinema, avoid asking questions to your fellow audience members. You can wait till the end to find out what other films that actress has been in, and don’t ruin it for everybody else by audibly trying to guess what will happen next. If watching a new release, assume that everyone else is just as confused as you about what is actually happening.

8. Strictly no filming

You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a handbag, so why would you post clips from a movie onto your instagram stories? Your followers don’t want to see a low quality clip from the film you’re watching. However, a picture showing your home cinema set up before the feature starts is permitted. 

9. Pray the WiFi holds up

Except for a projector breaking, or perhaps the fire alarm going off, it is very rare that there are pauses in the showing of a film at the cinema. However, if you are streaming your film you are putting your fate in the hands of the WiFi gods. To help avoid the dreaded buffer, try downloading the film before screening if possible. 

10. No fast-forwarding the credits

The main feature may have finished, but just because you want to watch the potential post credit scene does not mean you should fast forward through the credits. Use this time to reflect on the film, or if you want to keep yourself entertained, look for the crew member with the most interesting name or job role. 

What’s next?

Using these rules you can have a fun and exciting movie watching experience, or even just use it as a time to avoid conversations and arguments with the people in your household for a few hours. 

We don’t know when we’ll be able to go back to cinemas, and even what they will be like in the future, with reduced seating to meet social distancing and the films that are being shown, with some smaller cinemas possibly struggling to get by with these new demands. And while I can’t speak for other film lovers, I for one will be there eager to watch the latest releases when the cinemas are finally able to reopen their doors.