Every movie is better in the theater. Some movies, though, become remarkably less impressive when viewed on a screen that’s any smaller than 70 feet tall by 40 feet wide. These movies were made for the theater, like bacon was made for eggs or peanut butter was made for jelly.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
George Miller’s off-the-wall take on the classic dystopian franchise kept theatergoers’ eyelids peeled and heart rates elevated throughout.
The in-theater Mad Max experience was so impossibly engrossing that some viewers were immediately disappointed to walk outside and realize they were still driving a Kia Forte, not one of the war rigs from Miller’s visual rollercoaster.
2. Every Christopher Nolan Movie
At what point will we crown Christopher Nolan as the Stanley Kubrick of his generation? Every single one of his films is made for theaters. Memento, The Dark Night, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk, and Tenet all feel cheapened if you watch them on a small or even medium-sized screen.
Nolan understands the power of the big screen, and he utilizes every square millimeter of it to full effect.
3. The Great War Movies
It’s difficult to pick a single war movie to hold this spot on the list. Every critically-acclaimed, high-budget war film deserves a theater viewing, from Full Metal Jacket to Saving Private Ryan, Patton, Paths of Glory, Black Hawk Down, American Sniper, and Paths of Glory.
Can we petition AMC to run an in-theater Band of Brothers marathon? That is something the people deserve.
4. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
It’s difficult to communicate to the younger generations what it was like to see the first Star Wars film on the big screen in 1977. The intergalactic firefights, barren desert backdrops, and completely fictional but wholly convincing characters delivered viewers from their theater seats into a galaxy far, far away,
“Seminal” perfectly describes Wars-heads’ first theater viewing of A New Hope.
5. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was single-handedly responsible for a generation of young men and women shedding their shoes, growing out their body hair, and smoking pipes for three years straight. Or was I the only one inspired to go Shire Style?
In all seriousness, if you saw the first Lord of the Rings in a theater, there was no chance you would wait for the second two to be released on DVD.
6. Heat (1995)
I’d pay full ticket price just to watch the 18-wheeler smash into the Brinks truck in Heat, arguably the best heist film ever made. If permitted, I’d rather watch the entire movie in the theater.
Millennials may have had it all handed to us, but we never got to see Heat in theaters. I feel aggrieved.
7. Rush (2013)
The true story of the Formula One rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt is what movie theaters were made for. Director Ron Howard filmed real-life Formula One cars on real-life race tracks, and it shows.
If you’re ever fortunate enough to have a local movie theater screen Rush, or you have a well-endowed pal with a theater in their home, take your blood pressure medicine, buckle up, and enjoy one of the better racing movies of its cinematic era.
8. The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy is a modern response to Indiana Jones, offering boundless adventure while never taking itself too seriously. The combination of precarious hot-air balloon rides, claustrophobic raids of Egyptian pyramids, and immersion in mummy lore makes this movie fit for the theater.
Now that 1999 is more than two decades ago, you might eventually find a local theater airing The Mummy on classic movie night. Don’t miss your chance if it doesn’t make you feel too old.
9. Jaws (1975)
One self-deprecating movie fan remembers seeing Jaws in theaters, adding, “I’m old.” They assure you that those born after 1975 missed out big-time by watching Jaws on their Samsung or LG. Nothing like taking a bite of movie-theater popcorn while a great white shark takes a bite out of Captain Quint’s hull.
10. Titanic (1997)
Titanic seems topical, so why not include it on this list? The epic movie’s stunning visuals were so compelling that viewers were giddy to sit in the theater for more than three hours (not even counting the previews).
All the brouhaha surrounding the Titanic has made some question just how historically accurate the film, and the Titanic story as we know it, really is.
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