That’s when I thought back to the last time I went to the movie theater: The release of the latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight. Sure, the movie was great, but I still remember that sent to my wallet when I saw the $10 price for tickets. After getting a medium soda, popcorn and a box of candy from the concession stand, I started to consider the possibility that I may need to start taking out short-term loans before coming back.
Doing some quick calculations in the back of my mind, I could easily see the claims from my friends about how a night out at the movies could easily cost a family of 4 nearly $75, and that’s not including the cost of industrial strength solvent you always end up needing to remove your shoes from the theater floor at the end of the movie.
Meanwhile, back in the present, I considered how much it was costing me for an evening with Agent 86, Maxwell Smart. I had spent a little over $1000 on my plasma HDTV and a little under $500 for my home theater sound system. With a Playstation 3 doing double-duty as both game system and Blu-ray HD movie player, my personal collection of audio and video toys cost around $2000.
The astounding thing is that you can get satisfactory results for far less than that. Many of my friends are quite happy with their $600 HDTVs and $300 sound systems. Suddenly, that $75 spent for that night out in a crowded theater, where you can’t pause the movie for a restroom break, let alone rewind to watch the good bits one more time, starts to bring into very clear focus why the movie theaters are worried about home theater technology.
Another advantage to a home theater setup is the simple fact that you can control how you consume content. Movies come and go at the local cinema, but you have an entire catalog of movies and television shows to watch at home. With those choices come more options in how much you want to pay for that content, now that you have the option of buying, renting or even streaming a movie or television show. The decision to rent, buy or stream often will depend on how often you might want to view a title.
If, for example, you’re going to re-watch that first season of Lost multiple, multiple, MULTIPLE times, you’re probably better off buying a copy on DVD (or maybe 2 copies, in case you wear the discs out). On the other hand, if you’re only looking to catch up on that episode of “The Office” you missed two weeks ago, you might consider watching a streaming version on Hulu.com. Or you may look into buying an individual episode of House on iTunes so that you can not only watch it on your Apple TV, but carry it with you on your iPod for viewing on the subway.
With the continuing march of home theater technology, the options available to you on when, where and even how you want to watch your movies has exploded over the last decade.
Personally, I’m just glad that Agent 3012 (that’s me) can watch Agent 86 (that’s Get Smart’s Maxwell Smart) on my own terms.