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How to recreate the cinema experience at home

From home projectors and vintage movie trailers to the mysterious "popcorn salt"

As we have all learned over the last year and a half or so, it is difficult to replace the experience of sitting in a dark room with eager strangers, watching a movie on a screen the size of a building when the sound pulsates through your chair and into your body. But necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention, which is why many have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by investing in recreating that theatrical feeling at home. After all, TVs are cheaper than ever, there are plenty of streaming options, and the delta variant has many of us back in the days of worm mandates and store closures, anyway. Why not just bring in a movie from your couch instead?

It's meaningful, but it can also be overwhelming, at least compared to the real thing. To bring home the theater experience, you need either money or an eye for detail (or both). To learn how to best appreciate the cinema experience from your own home, we sought advice from Ahbra Perry, Head of Alamo On Demand, the streaming service for the indie cinema group Alamo Drafthouse. Here's what you need for your home theater.

In this article:

The right equipment

While you can probably watch a movie on your TV: "I think it's more fun to watch a movie from a projector," says Perry. the way to get a really big screen (you probably do not have an 8 foot wide TV), and the experience just feels more cinematic. "We have a big white wall at home," says Perry. "So we took down the posters and now it's ours. screen."

If you have a similar situation at home, you can find a cheap multimedia projector for a few hundred bucks, connect it to your existing sound system and call it a day, or you can buy an advanced, dedicated home theater projector for several thousand dollars, add a drop-down screen and a new sound system.Or you can land somewhere in the middle of your home theater.But the point is that there are all sorts of options and possible budgets when it comes to projectors and sound, so some research will be needed before designing one media room. (See the practical links below.)

Sound and vision [19659013] A traditional TV / speaker setting offers fewer choices than using a projector.If you go with a projector, screens can either be wall mounted and pulled down, or they can be attached to a state iv. Either way, you should be able to find something for $ 200 or less from the usual sites (like Amazon, Best Buy, Crutchfield).

When it comes to sound, you can either buy a soundbar or connect to your existing sound system, if you have one. There is nothing like watching a movie with surround sound. In either case, you should seriously consider adding a subwoofer (a speaker that only emits very low frequency sounds), provided you can do so without disturbing any neighbors living in the same building. "If you're watching a movie with a lot of booms and explosions, you probably need one," Perry says. Although your viewing taste tends to be less action-driven, a sub will contribute significantly to the immersive movie feel — they add a lot to the sonic atmosphere.


You will either get a multimedia / business projector or a dedicated home theater projector for your living room or media room. The best picture comes from the latter, but there are some caveats. First, they cost more ($ 1000 is considered cheap, while a decent multimedia projector is available for hundreds). Another point to keep in mind is that they require more specific circumstances to work best. A home theater projector is designed to be used in very low light or (preferably) dark. If your movie viewing room has blackout shades, or if you always watch movies at night, no problem. But if you watch movies in a room with quite a lot of ambient light, you can actually feel better with a multimedia projector: these are brighter and are designed to be used in a variety of lighting conditions.

In either case, try to get one with built-in streaming, WiFi capability or a USB card slot that supports a streaming stick. This means you can watch movies without your computer and with a minimum of cables needed. If your WiFi is not good, consider a projector that can be connected to your router for a stronger signal. It is also useful if the projector has bluetooth, so that it can be connected wirelessly to your sound system.

Here is a brief guide to choosing a projector, a slightly more in-depth and an overview of the differences between home theater and multimedia projectors. Whatever you choose, consider buying used. Projectors are like digital cameras, as new ones are constantly coming out on the market, which means there are plenty of good, not so old models out there looking for a home. (If you buy used, remember that the lights wear out after a certain number of hours and need to be replaced.

"I think it's more fun to watch a movie from a projector."

—Ahbra Perry, Head of Alamo On Demand

Some Other Important Things

Of course, a true movie experience means more than the movie itself, here are some things to add to the mood of your home theater. before the film, such as trailers, commercials and "no talking / enjoy the show" type PSA, add a lot to the cinema.There are different ways to handle it at home.The easiest is to use a streaming service like Alamo On Demand, which have so-called "pre-programs" as part of their offering.These can be quite deep, sometimes involving interviews with crew members for a particular film or a deep dive into places or the film's period. websites where d u can find trailers. YouTube can be your best bet, as almost everything is there and it's easy to create playlists (like this one), which means you can essentially edit your own previews, including vintage "no talking" and "enjoy the show" – ads, which are also available on the site.


Google "vintage theater seats" and you will find cinema seats both old and new for sale, much of it cheap (although shipping will cost extra). Wayfair has a good selection of new chairs, SeatsAndChairs has plenty of vintage, as well as 1stDibs if you want to break (or at least bend) the bank.


You do not need our help to find bio-suitable sweets in the supermarket, but did you know the secret ingredient in cinema popcorn? (We did not). Perry thinks "you can never replace movie popcorn", but "as long as you find a good popcorn salt you will get close." Wait – what is popcorn salt? "It's like asking what's really in nacho cheese," she says. "Nobody really knows. It is a special type of salt that is probably not on a doctor's recommended menu, but it is accurate for the experience. "It turns out that this mysterious substance is easily available online, so get some in the name of authenticity. (And don't forget "popcorn butter", if that's your thing.) If you have a popcorn machine, even better!

Take it outside

Do you love an outdoor movie night? With the right home theater setting, you can make it happen. A home is not defined by the boundaries of a house, nor is a home theater; there is actually no reason for your home theater to be indoors at all. "During the pandemic, my dad started doing backyard screenings for his neighborhood," Perry says. "He bought an inflatable screen, a $ 200 projector and a big old audio bar." If you have a yard, roof or other outdoor space, you can do the same. (And if you want to take it to the next level, get some burgers so you can Netflix and Grill. Sorry.) Having an outdoor movie night is fun, and they's also a relatively risk-free way to get people together during the COVID era – and if you do it right, your home theater should last long after the pandemic has returned.

The bottom line is, wherever you want to put your home theater and whatever you want to spend on it, there's a way for you to get close to the magic of the movie without actually going to the cinema .

Haven Life Insurance Agency provides this information only as training information and does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here.

Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigation decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance company backed and 100% owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigation decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide and should not be relied upon for tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to consult their own taxes or attorneys.

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Haven Term is a life insurance policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and is offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a simplified life insurance policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by C.M. Life Insurance Companies, Enfield, CT 06082. Numbers and functions for insurance forms and riders may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our agency's license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

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