Yet Another Reason Never To Go To The Movies Again – Image Quality

When I was young, the only way to get the “good” sound and massive picture was to go to the movies. To really date myself, it wasn’t until Jurassic Park that the sound at movie theaters actually got good. Before that, it wasn’t that great. Still, many people still use the excuse that there is nothing like seeing a movie in the theaters. I agree. It is much better to see them at home! I finally upgraded to a display with HDR and realized that image quality is yet another reason I’ll never go to the movies again. Let’s discuss!

The One Reason to Still Go to the Movies

In my mind, there is only one real reason to still go to the movies. When a new, hotly anticipated, movie is released, seeing it on day one with a huge crowd of people can be a very special experience. We’ve all seen the video from inside the theater during Avengers: Endgame when Captain America catches Thor’s hammer and the crowd goes wild. I’ve been in theaters like that. Having all those people around you just as jazzed and excited and captivated is a very special feeling.

This is how I prefer my theaters

But let’s remember that the reason we have that Endgame clip is because some jerk was in there filming with their phone. Sure, it would be cool to have all those people in the same room with you feeling the same emotion and cheering, but you also have to be in the same room with people who have their phones out and are filming. Or checking social media. Or talking to their significant other. Or farting. The list goes on.

Image Brightness

If you are a Christopher Nolan fan, you might be led to believe that the only way to see a movie is at a 70mm IMAX theater. You may have an IMAX theater near you, and it may be showing Oppenheimer (for example). But that doesn’t mean you are getting the best picture and sound. Even if you do find an IMAX near you, and it is showing the 70mm version, that STILL doesn’t mean it is the best version. On this list, only the ones with red IMAX 70MM are the best versions. Only three theaters in the UK, six in Canada, and a measly 20 in all of the USA. That’s not a lot of options out there.

You only have to drive 5 hours to see Maverick as Nolan intended!

Even if you are fortunate enough to live near one of these rare theaters, how much better is the image than what you can get at home? Take a look at this article that talks about all the problems with modern movie theaters. If you just scan to the bottom, you find the author talking about how they experienced 32 foot-lamberts in a “state-of-the-art” theater. What is that in nits? About 109. HDR at home assumes that your TV can hit 1000 nits. Your TV might not get all the way to 1000, but it’ll do much better than 109. Heck, even the Epson 5050UB (a sub-$3000 home theater projector) can do over 100 when fully calibrated. At maximum output, it does more than 300 nits!

Image Quality

Brightness isn’t everything (as many people with budget TVs have discovered). It does, however, tell us something about the contrast. A good TV (like an OLED) can get very bright, have very accurate colors, and amazing contrast. This allows them to create incredibly realistic images. When you compare those images to even the best 70mm IMAX image, the IMAX looks washed out and muted.

It’s a big screen, but what does that matter?

Of course, IMAX has huge screens. Even with a normal movie theater, the physical size of the screen is much bigger than what you can get at home. But what does it matter? What is important is your Field of View (FOV). If your FOV is the same, the physical size of the screen doesn’t matter. If you want the screen to take up more of your view, you can simply get a bigger TV (something that is becoming more and more affordable) or move closer to your current TV (which is free).


The reasons to go to a movie theater are dwindling as home technology has improved. It used to be that home equipment was trying to keep up with what you could experience at the movie theater. No longer! Now, the movie theaters are trying to keep up with what we can get at home! If you think you need to go to the movies to get the best image quality, that reason is wrong. You can get the same sound, the same FOV, and even better image quality at home!

1 Comment on Yet Another Reason Never To Go To The Movies Again – Image Quality

  1. Pablo

    One hundred percent agreed.

    I’ve been telling people to move their coach closer to the TV instead of spending double on an 83″ vs 75″. I even told people by how much (about 20 cm)
    But people just don’t get it.

    Regarding picture quality in theaters, my brother just watched Inside Out 2 in one of the best theaters in Spain and he couldn’t believe how washed out it looked. It was many months since last time he watched a movie in a movie theater. It’s been years for me.

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