These movies need to be seen in a movie theater to be appreciated


Even though streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+ are becoming more popular, some things about movies can’t be replaced. There’s something about the darkroom, the surround sound, and the smell of theater popcorn that turns watching a movie into a whole new experience. Nothing can beat the camaraderie and energy we feel watching a movie for the first time with a crowd of equally invested strangers who have also decided that what to watch requires a big screen, not a small to the House.

Films are often larger than life, but we want them to be larger than life too. Knowing what to watch on the big screen can give us a new appreciation for the scale and size of a film. Directors have been saying for some time that little details that might go unnoticed on a laptop, computer, or bits of dialogue that go unnoticed in a noisy living room are all blasted out so we can experience them more fully in the Movie room. Here are some favorite movies that need to be seen in theaters to be fully appreciated.

11 carried away by the wind

Gone with the Wind for a 2-Day 80th Anniversary Theatrical Run

carried away by the wind still holds the record for highest box office gross (after adjusting for inflation). This timeless tale about a Southern belle adapting to the Civil War era acts as a beautiful snapshot of a problematic story. The emotional journey is made more meaningful by the revolutionary use of lighting and color. Breathtaking photos of Terra and Scarlet’s voluminous skirts are all made grander on the big screen.

ten The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
20th century fox

This sweet romantic comedy about a man who turns his dreams into reality is so relatable it tugs at every heartstring. As touching as this heartwarming story is, the story is secondary to the cinematography. Not only was it shot in epic locations, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty also highlights fantastic images of weather, storms and the natural world. Even in Walter’s mundane office, cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh has a knack for taking audiences’ breath away. Great cinematography should be seen at least once in the theater.

9 How to train your dragon

All-new seasons of DreamWorks Dragons will debut on Netflix in 2015

Animated films may be understated compared to critically acclaimed films and blockbusters, but they are increasingly being recognized as high art thanks to shows like Esoteric and Spiderverse. Roger Deakins, one of the greatest cinematographers of our time, helped consult on How to train your dragon. Even though the movie targets children and the locations aren’t real, the animation’s bright colors and crisp lines are stunning. Watching the film in the cinema, viewers can almost feel the wind on their face and the heat of the fire on their back.

Related: Here Are Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ Best Movies

8 Avatar

The Na'avi shoot a bow and arrow
20th century fox

This sci-fi epic is another movie to watch at the cinema for its stunning cinematography and advanced visual effects. Avatar broke box office records as much for cinematography and special effects as for its plot. The film is responsible for the popularity of 3D, and its technological advancements in CGI and cinematography are still used in other films today. Each picture of Avatar is filled with creative alien species, beautiful plants or imaginative technologies.

7 Dunes

Timothée Chalamet walking on Dune beach.
Warner Bros.

The scope and scale of the most recent Dunes the film simply cannot be enjoyed outside of the theater. The setting becomes a character in its own right, as the new inhabitants of Arakis struggle to survive. Somehow, Denis Villeneuve and Greig Fraser make the arid, desert sands as beautiful as the cliffs of the ocean. Nothing can compare to seeing larger-than-life space shuttles and distant worlds as they were meant to be seen, and the meticulous detail of the sci-fi landscape and world-building must be seen on the big screen to be appreciated.

6 Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back:

Details of Star Wars 7's Han Solo and Princess Leia Emerge

Few films are as iconic as star wars. The galaxy far, far away never feels closer than when it encompasses everything in view in a movie theater. All the details of the carefully crafted effects come through when George Lucas’ vision is magnified on the cinema screen. Not to mention that John William’s immersive score sounds infinitely better on powerful surround-sound cinema speakers. Producers and audiences seem to know this, as the film has been re-released theatrically several times.

5 Avengers Endgame

Avengers Assemble in Endgame
Disney, Marvel Studios

Some movies draw a special communal energy from the crowd, and this one is one of them. This movie is worth seeing in theaters if only for the relationship-building experience and sense of human connection; nothing beats the delight of the audience in the movie theater when Steve Rogers takes his final stand against Thanos. Viewers even develop a powerful relationship with the characters themselves as their favorite heroes say goodbye. Acting and team spirit Avengers Endgame are palpable in the cinema.

Related: 8 Most Iconic Songs From The MCU’s Infinity Saga

4 A silent place

Paramount Pictures

Most horror and suspense movies are more intense in the dark, but the premise of A silent place makes it particularly suitable for the theater. In this film, aliens are invading Earth and attacking anything that makes noise, so great sound quality makes up for the very few spoken words. Sitting in the middle of the surround sound room is a far more immersive and exceptional experience, and with a film in which every noise could signify imminent danger, audiences might be surprised to hold their breath.

3 hero


One of the greatest cinematographers of all time, Christopher Doyle knew what he was doing when working on Yi-mou Zhang’s vibrant masterpiece. The dazzling use of color in hero is unparalleled, and the fast-paced action sequences share a simple elegance and grace, most clearly seen in combat on a lake (not on a boat on the lake, literally on the lake). All of this detail and fluidity is only made more evident in film.

2 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Return of the King

Peter Jackson’s fantasy films are famous for their exotic locations and epic scope. Few crews have been as dedicated to filming on location as the cast of the the Lord of the Rings. The trilogy’s conclusion features many larger-than-life moments that simply can’t be fully experienced at home. Something about the dark, silent theater makes all villains scarier and all heroes more triumphant, and the vast vistas and sprawling landscapes come to life on the big screen. Viewers feel like they are going into battle with the massive armies.

Related: Everything We Know About The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

1 2001 A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey 50th Anniversary Blu-ray Artwork and Details Arrive

This film is a must-see for any sci-fi fan, and when it returned to theaters in a glorious 70mm print for its 50th anniversary, moviegoers young and old flocked to theaters to see one of the must-see epics from the big screen. 2001: A Space Odyssey features spectacular cinematography of a futuristic space station and a stunning extended psychedelic sequence that really sings on the big screen. Watching the film in theaters gives the viewer a better sense of wonder and horror as the plot progresses. Groundbreaking cinematography and striking detail in textures and mechanics that can’t be seen at home take on epic proportions in the theater.

Finding out what to watch in movie theater glory is just the first step; If you ever get the chance to see this movie or any of the aforementioned movies on the big screen, grab the chance as soon as you can.

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