You’re parked. You’ve got twenty minutes to spare. You’re moments away from the film you’ve been *dying* to see for months.
You head toward the lobby, your fingers clutch the door handle, and then, out of the corner of your eye, you catch sight of something soul-crushing. The thing that makes all movie fans groan:
Some smug git mansplaining to his date what Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Okay, well yes that does make movie fans groan. But I’m not on about that. The other thing.
The line around the block.
See, I get why people want to get to the theater early. They want to snag a good seat. And sure, what’s a little queueing if it means you bag a sweet view?
Arriving late to the cinema, you’re less likely to get a decent view of the screen and more likely to get an opioid prescription for sciatica brought on by sitting in the front row. This dilemma can almost certainly be avoided, however, if you know the best place to sit.
So, where is the best seat in the movie theater?
In short: two-thirds back in the center.
While you can see the screen from every seat, there is a way to maximise your entertainment experience even moreso by taking into account other factors. Aside from the view – which we’ve just established, you’re getting from any seat, albeit in varying degrees of shittiness – the other factor to consider is the audio.
Experts say two-thirds of the way back in the middle, is where you want to place yourself. That’s where sound engineers sit to calibrate the sound when they’re mixing the audio on a movie.
THX engineer Steve Martz says two-thirds of the way back, and as close to the centre as possible, ensures you are closest to what’s called the “primary microphone.” That is used to establish playback levels, speaker timing and other factors.
“THX designs every seat to be a good seat, but most people would do well to sit near the primary microphone position,” Martz tells Vulture.
If those central positions have been taken, don’t worry. Slightly off-centre by two or three seats ensures you get a “more dynamic, stereo experience” according to Holly Frey of Brain Stuff.
But what if those seats have gone too, and you’re now panicking slightly as the trailers have started? You have to spread out to other spots in the cinema. Martz recommends going forward nearer to the screen than backwards. “Moving in this direction increases your horizontal viewing angle,” he explains. “It essentially increases your peripheral vision.”
Now you know where the sweet spot in the theater is, that doesn’t mean you can mosey on into the theater and swagger up to the best seat whenever you like. Well, unless you like fighting with strangers.
Here are a few other tips to help you get the best seat in the movie theater (without having to fist fight someone):
1. Buy your ticket in advance
Go online to purchase your ticket in advance, and while you’re at it, reserve your seat. That way you can undoubtedly get the very best seat.
2. Go early in the day
Alright, so you don’t feel like buying in advance. Or perhaps you’ve decided to go last minute. If you go during the day and catch a matinee, there are fewer people. This means you can ignore step 1.
3. Try Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
To double down on step 2, try going on one of the days when movie theaters are typically empty. Early in the week is a good time.
Wanting to get the best seat in the movie theater isn’t a snobby indulgence. It can genuinely benefit your entire movie-watching experience. By positioning yourself in the optimal spot, you get the very best in visual AND audio.
It’s a way to see the film as it was intended by the filmmaker – the perfect blend of sight and sound.
Now, if only there was a way you to stop that smug git from pointing out every single easter egg to his date.
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