Watching movies in the theater: where do you prefer to sit?

The TV size poll has me wondering if there’s a correlation between big TVs and wanting to sit at the front of the theater.

2/3rds to the back in the middle.

I came in here to post the exact same thing.

I like to sit closer than halfway to the front, especially for action/special effects movies. It’s much more immersive. Since I almost always go with my wife, however, I always sit in the farthest 1/3 of the seats because she won’t sit closer. She’ll walk out if the back is full but there are seats up front.

Third row center. I like the screen to take up my field of vision. Sitting in the back is like watching TV. I can do that at home.

Poll answer: “somewhere in the middle”

Actual answer:

Vertically (almost every theater I go to now has “stadium seating”), I like to sit with my eyes somewhere between even with the bottom of the screen to halfway up. I like most of the screen to be up for my eyes. Don’t know why, exactly.

Horizontally, it’s a complex theory having to do with left-handed and right-handed pitchers that I really can’t go into here. Suffice to say, it varies.

In most theaters around me, there is a flat section in front, then a separate, rising section of stadium seats. I sit in the first third of that section.

The front row of the second section usually. There won’t be anyone sitting in front of you and there is usually a rail to put your feet on, and its up close.

Well it depends on the size of the movie theater, and how rectangular the seating area is relative to the screen.

I’ve been in theaters with relatively small screens that wasn’t much different from watching a TV once you were more than halfway back. On the other hand, in some VERY large theaters (One of my childhood memories is of seeing the movie “The Sunshine Boys” at Radio City Music Hall in NYC) you could sit at the halfway point or further and still have an immersive view.

Going by the standard Home Theather metric of “screen widths”, I have found that I need to sit 1.5-2.0x the screen width away, plus a good surround-sound setup, to have an immersive movie-watching experience (as opposed to feeling like I’m just watching a big TV). That’s with TVs and projected images of up to about 100 to 120 inches in diameter at most though, though (the maximum I’ve ever seen in a home theater); as the screen approaches Real Cinema Size, I think I’d want to sit closer to 2x screen widths away. For example, if the movie theater screen is a relatively small (but common) 25 feet wide, I would probably ideally want to sit about 40-50 feet away.

Let me do a calculation based on my favorite Real Cinema movie theater, the Ziegfeld on West 54th St. in Manhattan:

http://insightmedia.info/images/DD-2009-05-27.jpg

Long before I ever got into home theater and worrying about “ideal viewing distances” and “surround sound imaging” and whatnot, I saw “Jurassic Park” at the Ziegfeld on its opening night and sat in the center of the center row, two or three rows in front of the halfway point of the “Orchestra” seats in front. It was the best movie-going experience of my life! It has always been my reference point for any movie-watching experience, whether a home theater or a movie house/cineplex: “How much does this make me feel like I did that night watching Jurassic Park at the Ziegfeld?”

The article wherein I found that picture of the Ziegfeld auditorium describes the screen as being a “52 foot screen”. If you assume that’s given in the currently dominant Academy Flat format (a 16:9 width:height ratio, which Jurassic Park was presented in), that would mean it’s 544 inches, or 45’ 4" in width.

Looking at that picture, I’d say I sat about 15 rows back from the screen. If you assume each row of seats adds about 5 feet of distance, and that the front row is about 15 feet from the screen (total guesses here), I sat 15 x 5 + 15 = 90 feet back, which is pretty much exactly 2x the screen width.

In reality I think there is not quite so much leg room for the seats, which probably means I was somewhat closer than that, but you can see that that rule of thumb holds pretty consistent for me.

I like to sit as close to the middle of the room as possible. If it is crowded I like to sit either right up front in the middle of the row or way in the back in the middle of the row.

I guess I am an oddball. :wink: I like to sit toward the back, but middle of the row. I like to have the whole screen within my field of vision without having to move my neck at all or strain my eyes too much. Not the very back row, but maybe the third from the last, and in the very middle. That is my perfect viewing spot.

I sit in the back because I get motion sick with a lot of movies these days. The guy who invented the shaky-cam should be taken out back and beaten soundly with a wet trout. This also includes directors who never met a moving shot they didn’t like.

I sit in the very back row, if I can.

Where ever I can get the greatest leg room. Usually that’s the middle where there’s a divider between the first half and 2nd half of the theater. I like to put my feet up on those bars, and I like to sit towards the center of the aisle (vs. my friend who likes to sit by the aisle or closer to it).

absolute back row, aisle seat. Personally I hate people kicking the back of my seat, and I prefer to sit on the aisle so I don’t have to wade through people to get in or out and I am not crammed in with lots of people around me.

Though personally I detest going to theaters any further because of the jackasses who fuck around chatting, texting and using the cell phones. Ill wait until it is out on DVD thanks.

The classic spot: Center, twice the width of the screen. It works out anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of the way back, depending on the theater’s proportions.

Right of center slightly forward toward the screen from center. I try to adhere to the fibonacci sequence in picking a seat.

I like to sit near the middle. I made the mistake of seeing a Harry Potter quidditch match from the front row. Never again. :: quease ::

Knowing that, we were late to see Avatar and we had to see the 3D from the front row side. That was worse. I was disoriented for ten minutes after leaving the theatre.

Right in the middle, about 1/3 back, WITH NOBODY DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME, unless it’s stadium seating.

I have long legs but a relatively short torso, so I sit somewhat short. I can’t stand watching anything with someone’s head filling part of the screen. It drives my wife crazy, but I’ll change seats if an large adult sits directly in front of me.

Middle of the 5th row. I realize I could probably get a better view farther back, but it just seems weird to go to the theatre and not sit close to the screen. Anybody else feel like this?