So far, 2022 has been the year of the cinematic spectacle, with films like “The Batman,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Nope” ruling the domestic box office. But, with streaming platforms officially passing broadcast and cable television in terms of viewership, I can’t help but worry movie theaters will also fade into obscurity within the next decade. The convenience of streaming is beginning to overshadow the timelessness of the theatrical experience.
The theatrical re-release of “Jaws,” — the first blockbuster and one of the biggest cinematic spectacles of all time — however, ultimately shows why nothing can beat seeing a film on the silver screen.
Steven Spielberg, who was 27 when he directed the film in late 1974, oversaw the new 3D and IMAX conversion of the film. This new version is incredibly focused; where many new films that receive the 3D treatment are muddy and headache-inducing with their excessive visual effects and poor framing, the 3D effects in “Jaws” enhance the already masterful shot composition and cinematography.
The amplified depth of each frame reveals the careful consideration that went into blocking every scene. Even simple conversations look incredibly cinematic. The underwater scenes where we adopt the shark’s point of view are somehow more menacing than they were before, especially accompanied by John William’s iconic theme.
The new effects were so strong that one audience member in my screening loudly yelped during one of the film’s most iconic scares.
While you can still feel the film’s tension and dread on a laptop screen or a TV, nothing compares to experiencing it in a dark theater with no distractions. You become completely immersed in the film, and notice things you typically wouldn’t with a different format.
When the film shifts gears in the third act and the protagonists set out on the open ocean to find and kill the shark, the adventurous tone offers a delightful change of pace. The film’s sense of humor shines on the big screen, and the chemistry between the three leads is as charming as ever.
The final battle between man and shark is riveting in the theater. Even though I’ve seen the film multiple times before, I was still on the edge of my seat. Celebrating the lead protagonist’s triumphant victory with a crowd of “Jaws” aficionados was the cherry on top of an already wonderful experience.
That’s the main thing streaming platforms will never be able to replicate about the theatrical experience: the camaraderie. While there is certainly a time and place for watching movies alone in the comfort of your own home, there’s something special about experiencing a spectacle on the big screen with total strangers.
Camaraderie is why big superhero movies are so much more fun to watch in the theater – not only is the quality of the image and sound better, but the viewing experience is richer because of the audience’s shared reactions. It’s like watching a football or basketball game. Are you going to have more fun by yourself or with an excited crowd?
Even films that aren’t action packed are better when viewed in a theater. When I saw “The Lighthouse” in an empty theater on a rainy Monday night back in 2019, I felt completely immersed in the atmosphere of the film. The film itself was like a fever dream, and my viewing experience complemented it perfectly.
Overall, streaming obviously isn’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to movie theaters just for the sake of convenience. Larger-than-life movies like “Jaws” deserve to be seen on screens that capture what makes them so special.