I have mixed feelings. There is no denying that presently most folks can't afford the quality of images and sound provided at a theater. That being said, the truth is that over the years the quality of movie theaters as gone down hill (at least visually). Back in the day two screens were a lot for a movie theater; these days eight to sixteen are the norm. The net result is generally smaller screens, which doesn’t necessarily mean the image quality will go down, but in my opinion it does tend to detract from the experience. Interestingly enough, sound quality has gotten better over the years and has benefited from technological advances where as film projectors are essentially dinosaurs these days.
I think the important thing to remember is that back when the VHS and Beta war was raging, folks who couldn’t afford the technology had an alternative; the family owned “art house” theater, which would sometimes run a different movie for each night of the week. You didn’t pick a movie and then a time. You got a flyer, choose the films you were interested in, and made that your night out. We’d drive a few towns over to catch a film if it was a classic. I know that’s more trouble than most people go to these days, but back then it was a big deal and it was totally worth it. Also remember that this provided a venue for the older prints of a film. So once or twice a year you could go see the God Father, or Taxi Driver, or even an old Bogart film on the big screen (just try doing that now).
I’m not even going to get started on the demise of the drive-in theater, because it’s just too sad to talk about. My point is that the corporations which run the theaters now are going to see their bottom line erode one way or another. And while it is sort of sad to see it happen, I can’t help but feel that most of the better theaters are already a happy memory and nothing more.