Waiting for the Video?

by Robbie Fischer

You know who you are. Yes, you! The one who says, “Why see it in the theater, when you can wait a little while and rent the video?” The one who says, “Why buy the DVD, when you can wait a little longer and record it off cable TV?” That’s who I’m talking to. And let me tell you why that you should see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in the theater:

  1. All the better to see (and hear).
    The movie is supposed to be seen on the big screen. It is made to engulf your senses with huge images and surround sound. It is made to be an experience that fills you, thrills you, and enthralls you. You will never experience it that way — the way you were meant to see and hear it — on the small screen. Things that would jump out at you in the theater will be eye-straining details on the TV screen. Sounds that make your hair stand on end in the theater, get lost in the oddly-mixed audio track on the DVD. It just isn’t as impressive or exciting that way. I don’t think it’s even worth seeing it on cable or video unless you’ve already experienced it the right way.
  2. We’re in this together.
    Sealed up in your living room, your audience is only as large as the number of people (if any) who are watching the film. But at an opening-weekend showing, with the largest possible audience in the theater, you can share the experience with at least a small part of the global audience that has gathered to see the same exciting movie. The humor, the excitement, the fear, and the romance are all magnified by the mass emotional reaction of the people surrounding you. Also, a movie is a social occasion. It should not be viewed alone. How can it take you out of yourself when you don’t actually go out?
  3. You owe it to yourself.
    Yes, going to a movie costs money. Then again, so does your monthly cable bill. Okay, going to a movie (especially with the whole family) costs quite a bit of money. But, it’s not like you watch a movie everyday! It can be a special treat. Most of you who can afford to be reading this, can afford to see a movie once in a while. Plus, you deserve a break from time to time….
  4. Your time is your own.
    Nothing is for free. And cable TV isn’t as cheap as you think it is. A quarter of every hour you spend watching most channels (often more) is taken away from you by sponsors. So your “me” time becomes THEIR time. Do you really want to give that kind of time away? True, they show advertisements on the big screen before the film too. Sometimes they have a slideshow or a digital video showcasing local business, even before the trailers. Big deal! You can always come a little late, miss the ads and still catch the main event. In fact, it’s probably therapeutic, once in a while, to be late for something ON PURPOSE and not get in trouble for it.
  5. Your time is really your own.
    You can skip the trailers too. Just be a little more late… which is probably that much more therapeutic. On the other hand, why skip the trailers? I know a few people who are really irritated by movie trailers, but I rather like them. They can be very entertaining, and in some cases, at least as good as the main feature! They are also informative. Most of us never realize how much movie trailers help us decide what to see the next time we go to the movies. And best of all, they give you a feeling of “inside knowledge” — as if you are part of the movie-making process — since you recognize what works and what doesn’t, even before you see the full-length feature.
  6. Someone else makes the popcorn.
    And it’s not burnt; that’s always a plus. Also, the food they serve at theaters is over-priced, unhealthy, and served in enormous quantities — the very epitome of a “special treat.” But it’s SOOOO convenient, and it gives you something to clutch, gnaw on, or hide behind during really intense scenes such as the rebirth of Lord Voldemort, or Harry’s second task, etc.
  7. Do you really want to wait?
    One of the biggest reasons not to wait for video, or cable and network premieres is the fact that you’ve waited so long for this movie. How can you stand to let it go by without seeing it? How can you wait longer, just to be able to see it in a less-than-ideal format? That doesn’t make sense! Oh, are we back on the economic argument again? Well, my way of looking at it is this: seeing the movie when it’s fresh, in the format that best suits it, is WORTH the extra cost. In fact, the advantages probably pay for themselves.
  8. Health problems, you say?
    So now you’re worried about the health effects of sitting still through a two-plus-hour movie. In my view it is probably healthier to watch a movie than watch two or three hours of TV a day. But then, you know about my prejudice against TV. I think for all the reasons I have listed above, seeing a movie, even once or twice a month, may actually be good for you. If I had to choose between that and watching TV everyday, you know which I would choose. In fact, I have already made that choice, and I don’t miss the tube one bit (nor the cable bills).
  9. You owe it to the creators.
    Don’t let it bother you that they’re already making sinful amounts of money off this franchise. If you actually like the Harry Potter movies and books, if you actually think they are special, if you are actually thrilled by each new story that comes out, then it is just plain WRONG to wait for the book to be available at the library, or to tape the movie off cable TV. You support the publishing of quality books, and the making of quality movies, by BUYING the books, movie tickets and, eventually, the DVDs. If everybody waited until the book was on the clearance rack, or until the movie was on ABC, the series would be a financial failure and there wouldn’t be a next book or film — or at least not of the same quality. Do you want that on your shoulders? Of course not.
  10. This too, shall pass.
    There are only so many Harry Potter books and movies to be made. To be exact, one more book, and three more movies. If you miss your chance now, you won’t get another opportunity to experience them amidst all the hype, anticipation, and excitement of the whole world discovering these wonderful stories for the first time. Sure, you’ll always be able to go back and watch the films on video, or read the books you’ve missed. But, should the day come when you recall all the hoopla, will you feel contentment… or regret?