It’s the Experience that Counts

Anybody who has been to the cinema during the last year or so will likely have seen an anti-piracy advert that warns people of the poor quality of pirated DVDs, and highlights that you miss out on the big-screen experience. Now, I’m going to overlook the fact that whoever made these adverts has obviously not spent much time trying to find decent DVD rips online, and look instead at how we can make the DVD experience more like the cinema experience because if, as they say, it’s the experience that counts, it ought to be an experience worth duplicating.

Let’s assume you’re renting a DVD. Right off, that has to now cost you approximately £8, and you’re only allowed to watch it once, at a time specified by the owner of the rental store. Forget about renting any arthouse films, or anything that has not been on general release for more than a week — you’ll have a selection of about five or six films, one of which will invariably be starring either Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler.

If you want some popcorn and/or a drink of some kind, you’ll not be able to just buy them yourself from such as a supermarket. No, you’ll have two choices: queue for half an hour at a food counter and be served by some pimpled Johnny-No-Stars, or fight your way through hordes of children at a self-service counter who you’ve just seen digging their sticky hands into the popcorn, and sometimes putting some of it in their mouths before returning it. Either way, all portions of whatever you order will be approximately bucked-sized, and cost about the same as whatever you paid for the DVD. The popcorn will probably also be stale.

Before being allowed into your own front room to watch the film, your bag may be searched for cameras or phones with video capability. If such a thing is found, you may have to surrender your bag at the door before proceeding, along with your shoes and any metal objects. You will also be warned before the film begins that you should a) not film the film and b) not allow anybody else to film the film, because the price of cinema-going is eternal vigilance.

You will not be able to watch the film by yourself. Almost every seat in your front room will be taken by complete strangers, who will mostly be the sort of person you would cross the street to avoid under any other circumstances. If some of these people have some form of Tourette’s, all the better. The only seat available will be somewhere off to the left or right of your television, forcing you to view the entire film at a sort of angle.

Before the film starts, you will have to sit through at least thirty minutes of adverts (two Mac Vs. PC adverts, one anti-piracy advert, one hilarious Orange Wednesday advert and one for Mars bars featuring a couple of smug punchables on an escalator) and trailers for films you don’t want to see, and that aren’t out for another year anyway. These will be unskippable and infuriating. Fortunately, most DVDs now come with these already. It should be noted that pirated DVDs, by and large, do not.

Once the film finally starts, at least 65% of the audience will continue talking over the opening credits, and will not stop until the first line of the film has been spoken, even if that line doesn’t appear until ten minutes or so into the film. That first ten minutes will also be out of focus, or there may be some issue with the sound. You will be powerless to fix such things yourself, and will instead have to wait for someone in another room to notice.

Any quiet moment in the film will be disturbed by the noise of a louder film — something involving Will Smith, I suppose — coming from next door.

The pause button on your DVD player will not work.

To fully simulate the relentless air conditioning of most cinemas, you will be forced to leave your fridge and freezer doors open, along with all the windows in the house.

The film will probably be rubbish anyway, but that doesn’t matter because, as they say, it’s the experience that counts.