Ever since the invention of the silver screen, romantics of all ages have headed to the cinema. From drive-in movie theatres to the fake-yawn-and-stretch technique, the cinema has always been the quintessential date destination.
However, the popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, like television, video and DVD before it, meant that the future of cinema as a hotbed for young, slightly awkward, love was under threat.
So now cinemas are changing; swapping uncomfortable seats for sofas, and popcorn and Pepsi for minibars and tapas. Here are some of the ways in which modern cinema's are making going to the movies cool (or should that be hot?) again.
The romantic history of the cinema
The earliest precursors to movies were magic lantern shows. These shows involved projecting rudimentary moving images onto a screen or wall. The origin of the fake-yawn technique is not known, yet it would be reasonable to assume it occurred quite by accident during one of these early snooze-fests.
Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long before we were watching the movies we know and love. The first public showing of a sound film took place in Paris in 1900. And by the 1930's the 'Talkies' were a global phenomenon.
Cinema's romantic peak came during the 1950's with 'Drive-in cinema'. But once numbering in the thousands, less than 400 drive-ins remain in the U.S. today.
Modern cinemas are reigniting romance
Although traditional cinemas can to some seem unromantic, alternative cinemas are actually doing very well. As millennials search for unique experiences, offering young people something different and interesting is vital for cinemas to survive and thrive.
For example, Secret Cinema makes the whole experience interactive, enthralling young daters with an immersive experience leaving them unsure where the film ends and where reality begins. Films shown at the Secret Cinema include Star Wars and Back to The Future, and love could well be in the air, as long as you don't take your sister or your mum.
Other cinemas have made watching a movie more comfortable and intimate by introducing more relaxing seating. In Everyman theatres for instance, the audience can watch films from the comfort of a sofa. The Sussex Exchange cinema, a local movie theatre in Hastings, goes one step further by offering guests ultra comfortable automatic reclining seats equipped with a personal mini-bar. While at The Northern Light Cinema in the Derbyshire Dales, you can attend a screening sat on comfortable armchairs whilst tucking into Tapas! The list goes on and on and on.
And speaking of cinema snacks...
Even cinema food is becoming more romantic
An article by AOL lists corn as one of the least romantic foods, sharing a rather repugnant plate with garlic, strong cheese and, much to the discontent of anyone who has ever watched Lady and the Tramp on a date, spaghetti. The corn may be popped at the cinema but that makes the surprisingly unhealthy snack no more romantic and no less likely to get stuck in your teeth.
Fortunately, many UK cinemas are edging away from the overpriced, unsexy and frankly ridiculously noisy popcorn and are instead focusing on gourmet cuisine. The Lounge cinema in London combines fine dining and film. Here couples can enjoy a three course dinner specially created for the cinema. Alternatively, The Electric Cinema, London's oldest movie theatre, serves up olives and freshly prepared Mediterranean nibbles for flirtatious film fanatics.
'Netflix and Chill' will never conquer the cinema
Despite the many innovative ways in which modern cinemas have made going to the movies fun again, the digital age brings constant threats to cinema dates. Young lovers, too lazy to even fake a yawn, are bypassing dating etiquette completely and staying in, rather than going out, on dates.
I'm talking, of course, about the viral, venereal 'Netflix and Chill'. A mid-20th century decline in cinema attendances coincided with the rise of television ownership, so could streaming films genuinely replace cinema dates?
No. People go on dates to the cinema as it facilitates the wooing process, whether you're watching a film in a reclining seat in Hastings or a drive-in movie theatre in 1950's America. 'Netflix and Chill' ignores this social process completely and therefore isn't much of a date at all.
Once 'Netflix and Chill' is long gone cinemas will remain. In fact, a study on local cinema by the British Film Institute found that cinemas help provide a "strong social function as a meeting place and centre in which to socialise."
The reason why cinemas are such good date places is because they're inclusive to any age group. Teenagers, married couples, the elderly, can all meet, date, and fall in love at the cinema. And that isn't going to change anytime soon.