A Fast and Furious History of the Home Theater

Let's all go to the living room ... let's all go to the living room ...
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Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at the evolution of the home theater.

I’d imagine that you could teach a very thorough film history course through the lens of the home theater. In fact, I would be totally unfazed if anyone out there is already doing that.

The story of how movies transitioned from disposable diversions to something to collect, cherish, and own is inextricably linked to the history of the Western film industry. From commercial interests to film piracy, from the rental market to the Criterion Collection, the movement of movies out of the movie house and into our living rooms is like a speedrun of Hollywood’s highs and lows.

The following video essay details what could double for book chapters: the overview of each turn, twist, and seismic change in the evolution of the home theater. This video essay is explicitly focused on the role of physical media in the development of the home theater. But it’s not hard to let your mind wander towards the un-mentioned disruptive elephant in the room: streaming. This video essay came out in 2013, the same year that the first season of House of Cards hit Netflix, so a lot has changed since … and the story of the home theater is far from over.

Watch “The Evolution of Home Theater – Big Tech of the Small Screen”

Who made this?

This video essay on the evolution of the home theater is by Filmmaker IQ, a YouTube channel disseminating all manner of film history and know-how. Their videos range from the highly technical (what to do if your green screen footage has something green in it) to the opinionated (are superhero movies destroying cinema?). Site creator and director John P. Hess is our narrator. You can subscribe to Filmmaker IQ on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields: Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.