Arclight TheaterFor generations and in every corner of the world, going to the movies represented a luxurious escape from reality complete with candy, popcorn and a tasty soda. Hollywood delivered to the world stories that will live on as important art from the 1920s until today. It only takes minutes for the silver screen to light up with content that transports us from our everyday life to a fantasy land while cool, soothing air conditioning and swade covered theater seats make for a comfortable environment. Its easy to see how the movie business has become a multi-billion dollar business for every major studio in nearly every country in the world.

In recent years, things have changed in regards to the theatrical movie experience. Theaters are built smaller. People talk on their cell phones during the movie. Seats have become smaller and more plastic. The quality of the sound and picuture can in some cased be better but in larger cineplexes but in smaller, more regional theaters this often isn't the case. The biggest factor that's bringing down the theatrical experience is the overall cost. Only a decade ago, a family of four could go to the movies for an affordable night out that was pure fun. Today in many cities, it can cost well over $100 for a family of four to see a feature film in the theaters. This includes four tickets, parking, popcorn, soda and a little candy. The pressure to have large box office results is easily accomplished by increasing the price of the tickets but this increase has people rethinking how important the theatrical experice is to them. Do they want to go out to be with the "great unwashed" or is there an alternative?

Amazing Home TheaterEnter the home theater. Born from the advent of home video in the early 1980s with Dolby ProLogic surround sound and VHS cassette tapes - we've come a long way since then. Today's home theaters have improved in quality, content and convienance while dropping in price faster than even the fast-moving world of personal computing. Today it is possible for a typical home owner to build a very respectable home theater for about $5,000 which would include a front video prjector capable of 1080p video, a video screen that could be as large as nine or ten feet wide, a Blu-ray player capable of playing back HD movies and HD audio as well as streaming movies from Netflix, CinemaNow and other sources. Today's AV receivers priced well under $1,000 have all of the neat-o features that you would expect like DTS Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD surround sound, many HDMI inputs and more. Then connect your iPad, other apple products, your satellite receiver and other goodies and you have a system that can compete favorably with the experience at the movie theater.

Arclight Theater BarSome think that the movie theater as we know it will go away over time. Their argument is that the cost of real estate is so high and that movie theaters only are profitable a) selling food and drinks and b) on Friday nights through Saturday nights. Many modern movie theaters are converting to the Digital Cinema 4K standard which replaces actual 35 milimeter film with uber-high-resolution video. 4K video is close to eight times the resolution of 1080p video that currently is the highest level format in home theaters. Other than lowering the cost of running movies, theaters can also repurpose movie theaters for other content in off hours such as indie movies, educational material, childrens content and more. Some theaters have gotten smart and started selling alcolhol, coffee and other higher profit margin products to help make more money per user. Consumers have money to spend if they are given the right experience but movie theaters today have to compete with everything from a modest home theater to an Apple iPad to even a cellphone. Its going to take some effort but the movie theater likely will survive once its fully reinvented its business model.

Watching content on the small screen? See our top audiophile headphone recs.