The Best Way To Watch A Movie


Best Way To Watch a Movie

The Best Way To Watch A Movie

The best way to watch a movie? Recently, two monumental movie directors, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, revived a discussion about the future of movie watching in America (and worldwide). The prediction by Steven Spielberg is that, “there will be an imminent implosion in the movie industry.” Lucas added, “There will be fewer and bigger theaters in the future” and movies will cost $50 to $100, “just like a Broadway show.”

These two, along with many other great filmmakers (such as Martin Scorsese and Michael Moore) have been sounding a similar alarm since, at least 1990. Martin Scorsese, in 1990, actually appeared in a panel discussion with Spielberg and Lucas where they made these same dire predictions. Michael Moore, in his fashion, has suggested that “the people” should consider establishing non-profit movie theaters, to keep the cost of the big screen movie experience within reach of the average person. Many cities offer tax incentives to lure film companies and independent producers to ply their trade within city boundaries. It’s hard to estimate exactly how much of an economic impact the movie industry has, but consider that one move could make a billion dollars or more, while employing tens of thousands of individuals around the world.

Here are some interesting facts about the movie watching experience: The largest single screen movie theater in the world was, at one time, the Gaumont Palace in Paris, France. Gaumont is said to have had a seating capacity of 6,420. The Palace was closed in 1970 and demolished in 1972 leaving New York City’s 5,933 seat Radio City Music Hall as the largest single screen theater in the world. The largest megaplex in the world by screens appears to be the AMC Mesquite in Mesquite, Texas with 30 screens and a total seating capacity of 6,008, while, the largest megaplex, by number of seats is the Metropolis in Antwerp, Belgium. Here you will find 24 screens with a total seating capacity of 8,092.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre by Jim Van Schaack

Probably the most famous theater is known as Chinese Theater, on the illustrious Hollywood Walk of Fame of Hollywood Blvd. in California.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame, one of the most successful of all marketing ideas ever, was the brainchild of E. M. Stuart, who served in 1953 as the volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. It was not until August 15, 1958, the the Chamber and City unveiled eight stars on Hollywood Blvd. at Highland Avenue to create excitement and to demonstrate what the Walk would look like. The eight honorees included: Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward.

Sid Grauman on the Hollywood Walk of FameThe theater is now “technically” no longer a Grauman, but the idea of putting movie celebrity’s hand and footprints (and in some cases other body parts) into cement, came from the innovative, original owner Sid Grauman, and has become a Mecca for movie fans around the world. A multitude of those mystified by the movie industry, come to this spot daily to see how their hands and feet measure up to the stars of past and present.

All these hopes and dreams got us at L&L Magazine thinking, about the legends and legacies of film watching, past, present, and future. So we tackled the question, “What is the best way to watch a movie?” We allowed representatives from some of the icons of the movie watching industry to answer this (and other) movie related questions within the context of the factors that make movie watching an experience that has grabbed our attention on a cultural and even global scale. Below are some of the responses we got (sprinkled with our own speculations) when we posed this question to industry representatives, in an ever changing world where we now can put up a theater, in any open space with a blow-up screen, where digital screens can put the viewer into the experience at any location, and where (as we detailed in a previous BIFOCALS) Nostalgia is big business. In the BIFOCAL Podcast about a little town in Missouri that calls itself, Nostalgiaville, USA the most popular item is a set of Drive-In Movie Speakers that people put into their patios or inside their homes. So, we began our search with drive in theaters. What we found may surprise, yet delight you.

The Best Way to Watch a MovieInevitably, when we decided to be completely honest about film watching, we realized that most of the Baby-boomer Generation were introduced to the pastime at a drive-in theater. This method of viewing a film has largely gone out of fashion we thought, but we wondered if there were still a few stalwart enthusiasts and locales who may be keeping the outdoor screens lit. We found and got comments from co-founder Kipp Sherer.

(L&L)Why is going to a drive-in theater the best way to watch a movie?

(Kipp Sherer) That depends on who you are and why you’re watching a movie in the first place.

For many, watching a movie at a drive-in is best because of social reasons. Drive-ins offer a more communal experience than indoor theaters. Being able to chat with friends, discuss the movie, or head to the snack bar with a group is often as much fun as the movie itself. And while watching movies at someones house also offers some of those options, you can’t see the latest releases, and there’s something to be said about having it play on the big screen. Probably the most common reason people feel watching a movie is best done at a drive-in theater is pure economics. With the rising cost of entertainment options, being able to see two new release features for the price of one and concessions at reasonable enough prices you can still take the entire family without mortgaging the house, drive-ins beat out not just indoor theaters, but many other entertainment options as well. Some drive-ins even offer carload pricing and concession specials that make the total cost of dinner and entertainment for an evening rival staying home with a DVD.

Kids play at the drive in

(L&L) Are their other reason that still make going to a drive-in somebody’s best choice?

(KS) Others find going to the drive-in the best way to watch a movie for practicality reasons. If you are a smoker, or have small children, or any reason that makes sitting in an uncomfortable seat without moving for two hours less appealing, the drive-in is for you. Drive-in theaters have all the benefits of going to a theater you can’t get at home, but without the drawbacks and restrictions of an indoor theater.

And for others, the appeal of watching a movie under the stars comes from nostalgia or the unique combination of classic Americana you can only get by joining two greats like automobiles and movies. The drive-in is hands down the best place to watch a movie for people that grew up during their heyday, as well as for couples.

(L&L) Are their any misconceptions you’d like to address?

(KS) Let me dispel some myths. First of all, there are still drive-ins. There are approximately 340 currently operating in the United States, as well as many in other countries around the world. Next time you’re in Canada, Japan, or South Africa, stop in and enjoy a movie. The drive-in theaters of today don’t have grainy picture or tinny sound. Most have new digital projection with picture quality on par with indoor theaters and digital sound broadcast directly to your car over its radio. Some drive-ins still maintain a row or two of in-car speakers, purely for the nostalgia of the experience.

If you are now convinced that a drive-in theater is the best place to watch a movie? Find out more at Search for theaters near you by zip code or browse our extensive archive of information about past and present drive-ins. If you’re already familiar with our site check back in mid March as we launch an updated version a long time in the making with lots of new information and cool interactive features.

Best Way to Watch a Movie: Drive-in Film Festival

Best Way to Have a Festival, is at a Drive-In [late-breaking addition to The Best Way to Watch a Movie]

After researching and publishing this article on THE BEST WAY TO WATCH A MOVIE, we were introduced to DRIVE IN FILM FESTIVAL. This is a wonderful festival of films concept, which stimulates interest in drive-ins by conducting a film festival on a rotating basis around the country. Are drive-ins dead, or a thing of the past? The answer, according to and is no.

We found that the best way to watch a movie, for many is at the drive-in theater.  What happened and what are people doing to meld the Legend with the Legacy of drive-in movie watching? While there has been, in the past, a steady reduction in the number of drive-ins around the country, with new technology, that trend may be reversing. More drive-ins are able to compete in the modern, digital world, with satellite communication, and creative minds finding new and better ways to share the drive-in experience. Here are comments from the founder and president, of Drive In Film Festivals, C.C. Webster’s comments in response, in part to our question, What’s the Best Way to Watch a Movie?

L&L: Where are the next festivals going to take place?

C.C. Webster: “Every year it’s a bit of a question mark, finding those drive-ins that will not be nervous about letting us come in and have a festival. I’m not sure what they are nervous about, but many drive-ins are extremely independent, family run businesses, [operating] for fifty plus years. So, [whenever anything] new [comes along] it’s daunting.

“The change to digital projection, and of course the Internet, has made a difference. In the beginning it was all mailings from my side and trying to figure out the correct, actual mailing address. Some drive-ins had post boxes that didn’t have mailing addresses or contact info. There were business councils and [work] trying to find out who I could talk to…so, over time it’s been a lot easier to at least reach out to the owners of the drive ins.

What amazing about [drive-in owners] is that they are usually wonderful families, or groups who have a real passion for it. The tricky part too is that they tend to be a little more rural, tend to be a little bit suspicious of not-for-profits. We want [these drive-in owners] to know that we want to come help you. We want to bring films your way, and put together an event.

“So, every year we have the stalwarts who are huge fans and supporters of ours [such as] the Delphi Drive-in.  There’s also the Capri Drive-in, in Michigan who are really big fans.  There was a drive-in in Delaware who were really big fans of ours, but sadly it closed.

“We go to the Delphi every year because it’s close enough that we can drive and take a large group, and do a big event there. We also try, ever season or every other season, depending on our budget–which all comes from submissions and fund raising—we try to travel and get the word out in other regions, not just the northeast region. Two years ago we went to Kansas. I went to an amazing drive-in there, the Cenopolis Drive-in. This year we have chatted with tons of different drive-in [owners], and [at first] people are very interested. Then, you start talking about specifics. That’s when they might get a little nervous.

“[In the process, we also need to know] what we can afford. I would love to try to get to at least a few new drive-ins this year. There’s a new drive-in in L.A. called The Paramount Drive-In that just opened last week. Another new drive-in is just north of New York City, which is connected to a Brother’s Restaurant—a small chain north of here—with a small drive-in on the side of the restaurant. We’re hoping to talk to them and help them out. I would love to get to some of these new drive-ins, to [show the public] that these are really thriving, great experiences. Everyone should see how great it is. Drive-ins are still opening, which is always such a good feeling.

“So, we’ll see. It’s early in the season for us. We tend to see a huge boom in the summer, especially because some drive-ins are only opened during the summer season. We’ve learned the hard way that we tend to screen Labor Day weekend, or somewhere after, as the big budget movies kind of die down. We can come in with our programing and kind of boost a little bit of the local area, the press, and get interest because it isn’t July 4th. It isn’t huge movie [releases] coming out at that point. So, we can help the drive-in and secure ourselves some crowd. We’re not trying to compete with anything big. We tend to use the summer as the time where we prep, prep, prep. We go to the drive-ins because the owners prefer to meet us in person.

“We also do a Digital Selects every year, where we screen a few of the digital films here in the city, [along] with a New York screening, where we say, ‘Welcome to Summer! Let’s talk about the Drive-Ins, where to go, how to get there and who to support.’ [Editor’s note: This year the Digital Selects event is May 11th.]

“There was a big announcement that Jimmy Buffet is streaming a concert from one drive-in in Texas, The Coyote Drive-In, to 70 others around the country, in June. [for a full list of these 70 drive-ins, please go to]. This will be the first time that’s happened in the drive-in culture. It might be something to cover as a new event in drive-ins.”

L&L: How did you get involved with this?

C.C. Webster: “I’m a filmmaker and I was getting my MSA at Columbia in New York. My short films were being screened at all kinds of festivals, all over the world, in Canada and France, all over the states. I was going to all these festivals and really enjoying them. I was driving back from a festival in Montreal, and it occurred to me that there were no drive-in festivals. I also realized that I hadn’t been to the drive-in in years. When I was growing up (80s and 90s) there were nine drive-ins close by, but by the time I graduated from high school, there were only two that were close enough to drive to for one evening out. By the time I was out of college there was only one. It’s the one still standing, Haar’s Drive-In. When we got back, my producer and I started thinking about what we could do, how much it might cost, and how hard it might be. This was before the time when it was easy to get a dot com name, etc.  I started getting very excited about the idea, and then we found a few drive-ins nearby. This is such a great experience, even though we don’t talk about it much anymore. Long story short, I make independent films and work with a community of independent filmmakers and thought it would be such a great match to bring new audiences to the drive-in, especially the younger crowd, remind people that it’s there, bring some fresh movies to the established crowd. We now have great digital opportunities with Netflix and Redbox, but it’s still not the same as seeing a movie on the big screen. The hardest part for me, was also the most fun, because I got to go to dozens of drive-ins to chat with the owners and get them [in on the] idea of hosting a festival. There’s a long way to go, but the opportunities are increasing. If you are interested in drive-ins or want a festival in your area, please contact us through the website. Anyone who love’s drive-ins is a friend of mine.”

Coming soon, the audio recording of C.C.’s interview.


RPX Auditorium Panorama

RPX Auditorium Panorama



Naturally, there are a number of chains and independent theaters around the world, but we received a quick response to our query from Russ Nunley, vice president of communications for Regal Entertainment Group.

(L&L): Why is going to a Regal theater “the best way to watch a movie?
(Russ Nunley): “Regal Entertainment Group is committed to excellence through the amenities we provide and the overall movie going experience. In recent years, Regal has invested in the rollout of several forms of premium experiences from the advent of Real D 3D, to expanded menus, the IMAX Experience and our own proprietary premium viewing called the Regal Premium Experience. Our goal with cutting-edge technology and innovative concession offerings is to combine the best entertainment choices with the most comfortable surroundings to achieve a certain cinematic perfection. For example, the Regal Premium Experience delivers the ultimate in both sight and sound technology with wall-to-wall screens that could never fit inside even the most elaborate home theatre.”

(L&L): What does a traditional theater experience offer that one cannot get elsewhere?

(Russ Nunley): “Movie theatres serve as a location for communal gatherings. People enjoy going to the movies because of the shared experience with others. The nostalgic smell of popcorn, the sounds of the fountain soda machine and the comfort of our high-back chairs create a unique environment that helps moviegoers escape and is completely immersive. Movie theatres minimize the common inconveniences at home such as the interruption of a doorbell or outside traffic noises and other distractions. The darkness of a theatre coupled with the giant screen size allows guests to escape reality for a couple of hours and transport themselves into the film with our surround sound speakers and bigger-than-life presentation. Our RPX brand is exclusive to Regal Cinemas: RPX presents movies the way filmmakers intended with powerful, uncompressed surround sound and bright eye-popping images in 2D and 3D. Guests will enjoy the custom-built premium environment featuring elegant and luxurious seats with high-back headrests. A giant immersive screen stretches wide and is illuminated by a high-quality digital projector and completed with a state-of-the-art sound system. Regal managers express their confidence in the presentation with the RPX Guarantee: ‘You’ll agree it’s the best experience or your next movie is free.’”

Regal’s website allowing you to find a theater, a film and a showing time close to you is Regal Entertainment Group. By downloading the mobile app, guests are able to access the industry-leading free loyalty program called the Regal Crown Club. They can upload the card straight to their mobile device through a QR code. Each time a guest visits the theatre, they accumulate credits that can be used toward free movie tickets and concession items. The app also allows smartphone users to purchase tickets, find showtimes and program their favorite theatre. Guests can also pick up a Regal Crown Club card at the theatre.

Turner Classic Movies

Turner Classic Movies pioneered the television, commercial-free viewing experience. Prior to pay-per-view, TCM let people watch the movie classics—painstakenly restored and remastered–without extra cost, from the comfort of their own homes and without commercial interuption. Certainly, TCM honors the pageantry of old Hollywood, and the impact of the silver screen. They have their own festivals and often bring back the classics (such as showing Casablanca right now, both in theaters and on television, during Valentines Day). Today, TCM promotes festivals, products and other types of movie watching experiences, but stands alone as the granddaddy of watching classic movies, at home, and for free.

Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz are the current on-set faces who make the watching of these films come alive in a way that is unparalleled in movie viewing, and now with the addition of Guest Celebrity Commentators. It’s all about movie classics for TCM, so much so that it is considered an honor among film aficionados to have a movie shown on TCM. After all, when you’ve made that program list, you’re a classic!

When technology caught up to the desire, companies took the general public dislike for commercial breaks and turned that into a whole new industry. First, of course, cable companies offered a superior and stable television image (over broadcast) directly into our homes. This spawned a new generation of television content that was geared toward films, home, and commercial free viewing. The pay-per-view, or premium stations were born. This was an improvement in some ways, but, for some there was still something that did not sit right. About this time in the development of film viewing, the Internet and cellular, or handheld devices became popular. What happened next seemed like a logical progression to achieve movie viewing perfection.

Andy Schupak, is the driving force behind an intriguing website, FESTIVAL OF FILMS, which has partnered with Bifocal Reviews (an L&L column) on this quest to give people what they want. We spent a few minutes with Andy, where he told us about his website and answered the question at hand.

(Andy Schupak): “The best way to watch a movie, is for free. At Festival of Films, we’re in the business of putting films into the hands of the people who love them. Funny films. Thrilling films. Films that make you think. Films that make you cry. From mainstream movies to little known indie flicks. With that said, we’re also a bit of a work in progress. Actually, we like to think of ourselves as a grassroots effort. We’re evolving from the ground up with the goal of building an online community where your feedback and ideas are welcomed and encouraged. We truly want our website to be a reflection of the people who use it. Besides offering a variety of online movies, we’re also committed to delivering the most sophisticated platform on which to view these films.”

(L&L) Whose idea was Festival of Films?

Andy Schupak

Andy Schupak

(AS): “This was my idea. I started things three and a half years ago. The reason I started Festival of Films was, interestingly enough, I have a marketing-consulting background. I had been involved in video technology for a long, long time. One of my clients was one of the original companies to have an online video platform. So, as I was doing more and more writing for them I went, “Wow! Now is the time to put video on our site.” That was my number one motivation. I also had made a couple of films and had participated in a couple of other things with independent filmmakers, so I thought it would be a good way to show independent films on the web. It’s hard for independent films to get out there. That was the reasons for starting it. The thing has evolved over time, but that was the reason. I almost hate to say that we’ve evolved to a point now where the site is a little bit in flux, because we want to make a major change in our content and the people are visiting the site and are using the site. I think where we’re going with it is that we want to be a little bit a combination of let’s say, a Rotten Tomatoes, Vimeo and Snag Films. We’re trying to bring a lot more bloggers over to our site, to participate more, writing reviews recommending independent films, and having followers watch the films, comment on the films and things like that, all on the same site. We’re looking for more people to participate in the site, for more bloggers to present blogs and recommend more films that we’ll put on the site. We don’t look at the site as a blog, but we have a section on the site that features bloggers reviewing these independent films.”

On behalf of his partner (another tech industry veteran, Tom Dolan), Andy Schupak concluded, “Festival of Films is always on the lookout for new and better technologies to improve your viewing pleasure. Oh… and one more thing. We think it’s important to mention that our films are completely legal. Every film we offer is licensed and cleared for online viewing. There are a lot of sites streaming free movies online. And the number of sites to watch free full movies online is growing every day. is a different kind of movie site. We are the only site that caters to mobile users, an audience that loves to watch free new movies online, yet only has the time to watch short videos and short films online. But focusing on the mobile user is not the only thing that sets us apart from other online movie sites. At Festival of Films we live up to our name and explore some of the best film festivals in the world, so we can offer you some of the most distinctive free indie films and some of the newest documentaries online.”

That said. Festival of Films doesn’t want viewers to love just ‘em and leave ‘em. If you’re interested in watching free movies online in the comfort of your home, they also offer you some of the best full-length theatrical releases, as well as the newest full-length rentals.

Cinepolis Laguna Niguel  Exterior

Cinepolis Laguna Niguel Exterior

Finally, at perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum from Festival of Films, TCM or the fee sites, we have Cineoplis, a company that strives to make each movie-going experience a unique adventure.

Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas is a revolutionary concept that has forever changed the movie-going experience.
Alejandro Saenz, vice president of marketing and public relations took the challenge of answering our key question in relaxed stride.
(L&L) : How did Cinepolis determine that luxury theaters can offer the best way to watch a movie?

Cinepolis Laguna Niguel Interior

Cinepolis Laguna Niguel Interior

Watch a video presentation of the Cinepolis response that is presented below:

(AS): “Cinepolis is a Mexican company. It was born in 1970 and now has 65 percent of the market in Mexico. It has now grown to be the fourth largest movie theater company worldwide. Having presence in all Central America, South America and India, and in 2011 we came into the States with our luxury content. It’s a very interesting concept, because for me it makes the experience of going to the movies completely different. It’s not just the movie and the classic popcorn and soda. The experience starts when you get your ticket online or at the concierge, or even at one of our screens at the lobby. You are able to choose and reserve your seats. That is a very valuable part, because you can choose to come to the theater whenever you want. The seat is going to be reserved for you, but the fun part is that when you come to the theater you are able to stay in the lobby. The lobby is very inviting. It’s a lobby that we created for people to mingle, to socialize before or after the movie. That by itself changes the way of going to a regular movie theater. You have a lobby that has a full bar, has a full restaurant, and then a lounge area where you see people who come and they know they already have their seat. They either take a cocktail or an appetizer or stay in the lobby with their families. So, it makes it more relaxing. Once you go into the theaters, it’s very comfortable as well. The seats are big, leather, reclineable seats; they go all the way back, and you feel just like you’re in a seat at home. At every seat there’s a food and bar menu that you may use to order. The menu goes from the movie classics, to small bites, appetizers, salads, sliders, flatbread pizzas, desserts and even coffee. It’s a complete, full menu. So, when you come to your reserved seat, someone comes to take your order, pampering you even more. You’re their, you’re sitting before the movie starts, a waiter comes, takes the order and then brings it to your seat. That’s why I think Cinepolis is the best way to go and watch a move.”

In the end, then, the best way to watch a movie might be different, for different people, under different conditions, but one thing is clear. We love to watch movies and we love everything that is associated with the industry.

So, in typical L&L fashion, we come to a close for now. Remember, if you want to check out a movie, in any form, just return to this article and click on any of the links that we’ve made available to you.

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Gordon Richiusa About Gordon Richiusa

Gordon Richiusa is an Italian American who has been a martial artist for some 50 years. He teaches the Five Bird System. Gordon earned a Master of Arts degree in English and has written numerous articles, stories, books and scripts under his own name and his pen-name, Gordon Rich. He has been a teacher of English Composition, Film as Literature, Creative Writing, and Scriptwriting and He holds two teaching credentials.