If you think you need to invest in an 80" HDTV and an elaborate surround sound system to have an enjoyable at-home movie experience — you're wrong. Turns out there are small things you can do to improve the mood of your media room and make it perfect for movie watching. Here's my top 10:
Improve sight lines: Everyone has a "favorite spot" at the movie theater. Mine is approximately four rows from the top, center. Think about your favorite spot and then determine how you can recreate that same sight line at home. It may mean your TV is too far away or too far to the left of your ideal seating location. Now, problem solve by moving your furniture or television.
Forget the "no food" rules for a day: Growing up, we had a pretty strict "no food rule" in the living room. At least, until the movies came on. Try to let your desire for a clean home go and pop an outrageous amount of popcorn. What are dogs and vacuums for anyway, right?
Pick your flick with care: This is my worst nightmare: I've invited my dad to watch a movie with my boyfriend and me and things are going great. That is, until a totally unexpected sex scene pops up. I know I'm not alone in this. Pick a couple movies in advance and read the reviews, even Google the movie title with terms like "sex scene" or "inappropriate for family viewing" to see if anyone else has already experienced this unfortunate fate.
Schedule an intermission: Refill snacks, use the bathroom and get the desire to chat out.
Ask guests to bring extra pillows and blankets: Comfort is key, but if you're having friends over, no host could possibly have enough blankets and pillows for everyone.
Break out the disposables: A few recycled paper bags for the popcorn and treats will save you hours of cleaning later.
Go for bottled beverages: Congrats on allowing food on your couch. Allowing people to drink beverages on your expensive furniture requires a lot of trust, so in this case, splurge for bottled beverages and avoid disaster.
Make it a marathon: A late evening movie leaves plenty of time afterwards for a double feature. This works especially well with trilogies.
If you're going to upgrade one thing, make it a sound bar: A full surround sound setup can be expensive, but most sound bars start in the mid to high $100s and are typically paired with a wireless subwoofer. It's a lot of extra sound quality without making a huge investment. For example, the VIZIO VSB211 32-Inch Sound Bar with Subwoofer starts at $163.95 on Amazon.
Turn off the lights (and lighted devices): It's easy to turn off lamps, but if your family and friends are constant phone checkers, here's a game to play. Make everyone turn off their phones and put the phones in a bowl in the middle of the room. The first person to break and reach for their phone has to do snack refilling duty the rest of the night. Texting at the movies is unacceptable — same goes for home movies.
Liz is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen, a documentary short about the physics in the comic book movie. She’s a tech obsessive, verified nerd and total Anglophile.
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