The Projection Booth, the Radical Seat

Recently, David Bordwell devoted a post on his blog to a crucial but undervalued question: where do you sit in the movie theater?

Speaking for myself, I can’t fathom sitting anywhere but the first five or six rows, making some allowance, of course, for the design of the space. Many first and second row seats are too close, placed by bottom-line-minded corporate architects without any thought towards whether the full width of the screen is visible without distortion. The further one gets from the screen, the more the show begins to look like television, with comparable distractions priced into the equation. Much like the preference for watching TV with all the lights on, cinema screens viewed from the back of the auditorium tend to get lost in a mess of ambient light—exit signs, aisle markers, foyer spillover. There are definite, cheerfully imposed barriers between your body and the image. An anti-engagement.

Naturally, this taste makes for awkward social occasions. You try to describe your preferences in a non-incriminating way, waving towards the screen and simply saying that you like to sit close. Most people take this to mean ten rows from the back rather than five.  How do you compromise with a compromise?