I can't count how many times I set out to host a killer movie night and watched helplessly as it fell apart before my eyes. While it might seem simple, there's more to movie night than pushing "play" and throwing some popcorn into a bowl. There are a lot of ways for movie night to go wrong!
But there's one mistake you should definitely avoid: picking a movie dud.
Do as I say, not as I do.
I seem to have quite a lot of experience with this common pitfall. For my birthday a few years ago, I tried to force my friends into a viewing of my favorite film from my youth — don't judge me, but it's Dream a Little Dream featuring Corey Feldman and Corey Haim! — only to watch my buddies pull out their phones and scroll through their social media in total disinterest.
Other times, I've watched as my friends seemed more eager to hang out and catch up (not a terrible thing, in theory!), completely ignoring the artsy indie movie I'd been so excited about sharing with them.
And a few times, my friends have actually insisted we abandon my movie selection half-way through out of boredom.
6 Movies Not to Watch on Movie Night
- Dirty Grandpa
- 50 Shades of Grey
- Anything where Johnny Depp wears zany makeup
- The Cobbler
- Yeah, just avoid anything recent with Adam Sandler
So, what should you do instead?
First, consider the occasion.
This is key to picking a film that will be enjoyable for your target audience. You don't need me to tell you not to pick a bloody Jean-Claude Van Damme flick for a Galentine's Day gathering or an intense war documentary for friends looking for a few light laughs.
Embrace a theme.
Having a theme will tell your guests what kind of films they can expect to watch — and it'll narrow down your choices considerably, so you're not picking a movie at random. Screen blockbusters in the summer, spooky films in October, holiday classics in December. This time of year, pick some rom-coms or buzz-worthy Oscar picks for award season. This theme can also help when planning your snacks (which are key).
Get a recipe: 10 Make-at-Home Snacks for Movie Night
Ask the audience.
If you're open to suggestions, solicit movie ideas from the attendees or, even better, let people vote on which movie to watch. That's true democracy at work! If it gets tricky (say, there's a tie), remember, you are actually in control. Feel empowered to be the tie-breaker.
Have a backup selection.
You should also be ready with a backup selection, should your planned movie land with a thud. If you sense Benedict Cumberbatch's acting chops aren't connecting with the crowd, grant everyone veto power after the first 10 minutes. By allowing guests to pivot on the fly, you can be a hero and save your movie night, which will keep enthusiasm high.
Finally, make sure your guests are comfortable.
Even if you pick an absolute winner of a movie, your movie night can still be a bust if your guests aren't comfortable. Ideally you'll be able to watch the movie on a large TV with excellent sound. While screening a movie on a laptop wouldn't work, hooking your computer up to a projector might be a great solution.
It's also a good idea to make sure every seat in the house is a good one. Scatter cozy blankets and plush pillows around so people can settle in and immerse themselves in the moment. Worried you're going to be short on blankets? Make it a BYOB situation.