Summer, to me, has always been synonymous with the summer movie season. I wasn’t into sports growing up, so baseball and the NBA playoffs weren’t my jam. I also wasn’t the outdoorsiest kid so, you know, it’s not like I was rushing to go on hikes or find stuff to do outside. No, for me, summer movies were always the highlight of the season. And they always will be. Which means this summer feels like it’s lacking a certain something for me (aside from, you know, the autonomy to leave my home safely).
I know I’m not alone in this. I crave a hot afternoon spent in a dark room full of strangers, AC blasting while we all shovel popcorn and candy into our mouths as the opening credits to a blockbuster movie roll.
There’s no telling when theaters will be running as they normally do (I love Christopher Nolan but you couldn’t pay me to go to a theater to see Tenet in a few weeks). In the meantime, we’ll all have to settle for an at-home fix. Throwing in a Blu-ray or putting on a movie on Netflix doesn’t exactly scratch the moviegoing itch. But there’s a way to bring the summer movie experience home. All you need are a few choice tools and the right flick.
ViewSonic 1080p Projector | $500
A good projector is the key to building the experience of a movie theater at home. These will sync up to your computer, Blu-ray player, or video game system and project a crisp, bright image onto a blank surface (while walls are ideal but you can make do with a white bedsheet if you need to). If you’re looking for a reliable starting point, the ViewSonic PX700HD is the way to go. It’ll provide clear resolution and works with any image framed in 1080p or lower. The downside is this one might not be amenable to your new 4K restorations, but for anybody satisfied with the 1080p quality, bang-for-buck, this is one of the best projectors you can buy.
Bose Surround Speakers | $299
Perhaps this will be a controversial take for 35mm film purists out there, but to me, the element of moviegoing most tied to the theatergoing experience (and as such the hardest to replicate at home) is sound. Anyone can get a fancy projector, anyone can get a nice leather chair, and anyone can make a big ol’ tub of popcorn. Hell, those film purists can invest in a projector and film prints if they really want to (an expensive habit, sure, but it can be done). But recreating the experience of hearing a movie in a theater? That’s another story. The size of a theater allows for massive surround-sound speakers, killer acoustics, and a volume that you can’t replicate if you live in an apartment or house.
But Bose surround sound speakers might be the next best thing. Bose is already reputable as one of the best brands in the speaker game and while these come with a hefty price tag, they’re essential in creating a movie theater-quality experience at home. Featuring stunning range and killer volume, stick these behind your seats and you’ll almost feel like you’re in a theater again.
It ain’t a movie theater experience without popcorn (or at least popcorn smells). Sure, you can just stick a bag in the microwave, but where’s the fun, nay, the experience in that? We’re all about recreating the feeling of going to a movie theater right now and you just can’t get that done by sticking a bag in a microwave. If you want to go all out on bringing the theater experience home, Nostalgia Concessions’ popcorn machine will get the job done. From the vintage exterior stylings to the old-school popping mechanism, it’ll get your fellow (home) theatergoers their popcorn fix and fill your house or backyard with the familiar, essential smell of freshly popped corn.
Okay, maybe an entire vintage-style popcorn machine isn’t exactly the most budget-friendly option for everyone right now. Easy fix: pick up a box of Orville Redenbacher’s movie theater-style popcorn. You can’t go wrong with the classics.
Maybe you don’t have access to an amply sized stretch of blank wall for a projector, or maybe you’re aiming to take movie night outside and need a canvas to screen your film of choice on. A projector screen is always an easy fix. This one is pretty massive at 150 inches and can be easily displayed on walls or from the ceiling. It’s also crucially crease-proof, meaning you don’t have to worry about storage causing pesky wrinkles that interfere with your projector’s picture.
45 years after its release, Jaws remains the single most quintessential summer movie. It ushered in the modern blockbuster and somehow hasn’t aged a day. In fact, it looks better than ever on this new 4K restoration (don’t worry, the standard Blu-ray still looks amazing and is included in this combo pack). We might not be getting new summer blockbusters for a while, so why not get your personal summer movie season started with one of the all-time greats?
There’s no movie restoration quite like a Criterion Collection restoration. While you’re unlikely to find big, bombastic summer blockbusters in their lineup these days, they still put their restorative skills to good use on a number of perfect summer movies, including Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, a film that captures the vibe of summer better than almost any movie out there.
While it’s likely a little early to call this one a summer movie classic, there are few summer releases of the last decade as in love with the experience of watching movies, be it at home or in a theater, as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Whether you’re revisiting it for the umpteenth time or missed it during its impressive box office run in 2019, the film makes for a great home viewing experience alongside a tub of fresh popcorn and a loved one.
Cinema Light Box | $25
Listen, it’s the little touches that matter, and a little bit can go a long way these days. If you aren’t ready to spring on a new home theater system, maybe all you need to make your Netflix night feel a little more special is a theater-style marquee board.