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Which is better for movie watching: A full theater or an empty theater?

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“Question Everything” opens the floor for debate of pop culture topics–serious to whimsical, sublime to ridiculous—that have no right or wrong answers but certainly elicit a wide spectrum of intense opinions. Hopefully reading these different perspectives will open minds, challenge thinking and maybe even provoke a change in what you believe. Let’s discuss!

A full theater or an empty theater: Which is better for movie watching?

EW’s Critics Make Their Cases

 

Kevin P. Sullivan says:

A full theater: The magic of movies is multidirectional. If a film is any good, our hearts become tied to the characters and dreams projected onto the screen. The illusion can make us cry or laugh or scream, which is a neat trick on its own, but when shared with the strangers you walked in with, it’s something else entirely. Those giggles and gasps in the dark serve as reminders that we’re all of a piece, and make us less alone. The sad inverse is that a crowded theater also has the potential to be the worst possible viewing environment. It all depends on everyone agreeing for a couple of hours to be present and forget themselves (and their phones). 

Joe McGovern weighs in:

An empty theater: A cinema is not a place of crucial audience engagement, like a concert venue or a sports arena or a Broadway playhouse. Of course, sitcom laugh tracks still buttress the theory of contagious response, but I’ve never seen a terrible -comedy made better by a gullible audience. Or a horror film made scarier. I have, however, experienced excellent films made worse by crying babies, chatterers, soda spillers, and an LED show of smartphones -sparkling like a candlelight vigil. An empty theater is mecca for those who want to watch the movie they paid for in peace. 

 

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