Long before drowning in the sea of content in the OTT space became the norm, heading to the cinemas with a bunch of friends or even family was the ultimate way to watch films. We’ve all gone to the movies with our friends or on a movie date (the worst date idea ever!) and we still do. 

Why won’t we, because that’s normal, right? Watching a film in the theatre has always been considered a social activity. 

Much like eating without a dining partner in crowded restaurants makes you the target of some judgy looks, you can feel strangers’ eyes peering at you even in the dark theatre (or that’s what we assume). But we can open that Pandora’s box some other day, so let’s focus on the latter for now i.e. going to the movies all by yourself. 

In all honesty, I was never fond of the concept. To me, it’s more of a solitary activity than a social one. Ahead of the self-love fad, or impressing social media followers by “taking myself out on a date”, I embraced the practice of going to the movies alone. 

So that I could have the huge bucket of popcorn to myself. Well, it’s one of the reasons. 

I never realised how much fun it is to go to the movies by yourself until I actually went to film screenings and sat in the small theatre full of journalists prepping for a review.

I get it. The idea of sitting there all alone, surrounded by people who are either in a pair or group can be a little socially awkward at first. Been there!

In fact, I ran into a schoolmate, who was there with a group of friends, the very first time I went to a movie alone in my hometown. I was standing there all by myself with a giant bucket of cheese popcorn while sipping on my cold drink. After some small talk, he ultimately brought up THE question: “Did you come here alone?”. My immediate thought was to lie about it, but I said “Hell yeah!” instead. And then I walked out like a main character (okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic).

There are a thousand advantages to being there alone. You get to pick the film you like, the seat you want, and even the time you want to watch the film. Just imagine. No customizing of plans for anyone.  

And, the most annoying bit, you don’t have to feed every detail to your friend while the film is still going on. I mean lengthy discussions are mandatory after a brilliant film, but there’s no place for that while we watch it. You can just focus on every frame. 

Have you cried while watching a movie? Or maybe held back your tears because your friends might judge you? Well, you can be wailing in that theatre and no one would pay attention to you. See, honest reactions are welcomed among those strangers in your vicinity. 

When I moved to a different city for college, initially, I rarely went to the movies until I found a friend who loved the same genre as I did. She belonged to the rare breed who didn’t bug you with a trillion questions while watching the film. But sadly, that joy was short-lived since she moved cities and I got stuck watching movies on hand-held screens.

Okay, I might be coming off as a massive loner right now. I do have friends (just three of them, but I do) to accompany me to the cinema. But you can’t share the enthusiasm for film-going with someone you have to drag to the cinema, can you?

As much as we would love to be the main character all the time, to not think you’re the center of attention can be of huge help. You can swiftly navigate through the lobby in the theatre if you assure yourself that the public really doesn’t care what you’re doing.  

It isn’t the movie-watching part that makes me anxious, but the bit where I would queue up for snacks, get in the theatre or walk to the seats. Frankly, now I believe, no one cares that I’m by myself like I perceived they do. 

And even science backs this argument that while experiencing films alone in theatres could be among the common fears, it actually helps break out of one’s comfort zone and is good for personal health. 

To tell the truth, more than just entertainment, the movie theatre is actually the best place to conquer the fear of being alone in a social setup.

In that dark space, no one can really see you, and you get to be “you” for those long hours, despite being surrounded by strangers.