25 Movies People Wish They Could Have Seen in Theaters

Even with the best setup for watching movies at home, there's nothing like going to see a movie in the theater. Film fans in a popular online forum discussed the movies they wish they could have seen in theaters. Some said they'd love to see classics that need to be enjoyed in their original format, while others wished they could share the first-time watch with a crowd.

1. Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo Kim Novak
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense, so it's no surprise that his greatest film would show up on this list. With its technicolor images, terrifying vistas, and heartbreaking lead performance by Jimmy Stewart, Vertigo only gets better when viewed in a theater.

2. Ben Hur (1959)

Ben Hur Charlton Heston, Haya Harareet, Sam Jaffe, Cathy O'Donnell, Martha Scott
Image Credit: Loew's, Inc.

For years, Ben Hur was mandatory Easter viewing, as families would gather around the TV set to watch this epic story about the fall and rise of Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston. But as powerful as the movie still is today, there's no denying that the climactic chariot races would stun anyone watching it on the big screen.

3. The Guns of Navarone (1961)

The Guns of Navarone Allan Cuthbertson
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Anthony Quinn, The Guns of Navarone relates a remarkable story of desperate Allied soldiers trying to breach an impenetrable German fortress. Scenes of the heroes talking and planning play well no matter what type of screen you're using, thanks to their unmatched charisma. But only a big screen can do justice to the majestic cliffs that our heroes must climb.

4. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia 1962
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

A lot of movies call themselves “epics,” but few earn that title like David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Shooting the movie on 70mm film, the director had an enormous canvas to use while filming the story of T.E. Lawrence. He fills the frame with amazing vistas that no television set can capture, no matter how big and impressive it may be.

5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Anyone who has seen a movie starring Robert Redford or Paul Newman understands the desire to see these two movie stars on the biggest screen possible. As the titular outlaws, the duo brings their electric charisma to this highly influential revisionist Western, directed by George Roy Hill.

6. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

As popular as it was, nobody who read Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather saw it as anything other than sensationalist pulp. But in the hands of director Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather became a sweeping allegory about the best and worst of America. The movie still has the power to shock and impress, especially when watched in the theater.

7. Badlands (1973)

Badlands Sissy Spacek
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The debut film of the enigmatic director Terrence Malik, Badlands adapts the true story of two star-crossed killers into a quiet and thoughtful look at a country in transition. Despite magnetic lead performances by Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, the movie's real draw remains the amazing visuals by Malik and his team of cinematographers.

8. Barry Lyndon (1975)

Barry Lyndon
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Although Barry Lyndon was a commercial and critical hit at the time of its release, most ranked the movie among the worst of director Stanley Kubrick's work. Over the past decade, fans have re-evaluated this period piece starring Ryan O'Neal, and the movie has only risen in reputation. It's no surprise that today's moviegoers would want to see it as originally intended, on the big screen.

9. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Hayden Christensen
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Of course, fans would want to see Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in theaters again. Ever since George Lucas released his space opera in 1977, Star Wars has redefined cinema, launching a franchise that continues to add entries today. One movie fan said they want to see Star Wars “as originally presented in 1977,” not an updated version.

10. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

After being prevented from directing a James Bond movie, Steven Spielberg got an even better idea from his friend George Lucas. Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced fans to whip-cracking archeologist Indiana Jones, played by the incomparable Harrison Ford. Even with Indy's fifth and final movie released, fans still wish they could see Raiders again for the first time.

11. The Thing (1982)

The Thing
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

When John Carpenter debuted The Thing in 1982, critics and audiences reacted with anger and disgust. Shedding the chummy tone of the 1951 movie The Thing From Another World, Carpenter told a lean and paranoid story starring Kurt Russell, Keith David, and some amazingly gross special effects. Fans now recognize The Thing as one of the greatest horror movies of all time, making it a no-brainer for theatrical re-release.

12. Scarface (1983)

Scarface Al Pacino
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Like so many other movies on this list, Scarface only became a classic after it left theaters. First viewers dismissed director Brian DePalma's sleazy update of a 1932 noir, criticizing Al Pacino's over-the-top performance as gangster Tony Montana. Since 1983, Scarface has grown into a genuine pop-culture phenomenon, something that true fans wish they could have seen on the big screen.

13. Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future Michael J. Fox
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

With so many time-travel movies released over the years, it's easy to take Back to the Future for granted. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd so effortlessly tell their story about an 80s teen who goes thirty years in the past, that viewers may not see the magic in Robert Zemeckis' direction or in the script he wrote with Bob Gale. When seen in theaters, there's no denying the movie's power.

14. Aliens (1986)

Alien Sigourney Weaver
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Director Ridley Scott created something special with 1979's Alien, introducing the world to Sigourney Weaver and the horrifying Xenomorph. But most fans say they want to see Aliens on the big screen — the action-heavy follow-up by James Cameron. Cameron gives Weaver's Ripley a giant gun and a group of space marines, ramping up the action without ever sacrificing the horror, making for the perfect theatrical experience.

15. Robocop (1987)

RoboCop Nancy Allen, Peter Weller
Image Credit: Orion Pictures.

It's hard to think of a more perfect 80s movie than Robocop, the clever action movie satire from Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. As the title character, Peter Weller perfectly embodies a police officer turned into a machine to battle crime in futuristic Detroit. However, the past decades have only made Robocop more relevant — it's a movie as powerful today as it was in 1987.

16. Predator (1987)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The first half of Predator plays like your average Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, complete with over-the-top explosions and silly one-liners. But when Arnold and his team of tough guys, including Carl Weathers and Bill Duke, meet an alien hunter, they get outmatched, building to one of the most memorable showdowns in movie history.

17. Scream (1996)

Scream Dane Farwell
Image Credit: Dimension Films.

Wes Craven changed the course of horror history with his 1984 movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, and then he did it again in 1996 with Scream. The self-aware fright flick brought slashers back into the mainstream and started a franchise that continues into 2023. But most want to watch it again for the first time to get the full shock of the movie's opening, which kills off its most famous star in the first scene.

18. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Sean Astin, Elijah Wood
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

For years, people said no one could adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy into a movie. And yet somehow, producers gave millions of dollars to odd-ball New Zealand-born director Peter Jackson to give it a shot. And what a shot it was. He created an exciting film that stayed faithful to the original books.

19. Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland Drive Laura Harring, Naomi Watts
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

No one does weird like David Lynch, and although many still know him best as the co-creator of the TV show Twin Peaks, many movie fans said they want to see his magnum opus Mulholland Drive in theaters. A bizarre, dreamlike film about two women who bond in the shadow of Hollywood, Mulholland Drive won't make more sense on the big screen, but it will be that much more striking.

20. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 2 Toby Maguire
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Spider-Man changed the course of cinema in 2002, giving life to bankrupt comic book publisher Marvel and laying the groundwork for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the comic book genre hit its peak with the follow-up Spider-Man 2. Simultaneously deeply heartfelt and seriously goofy, Spider-Man 2 embraced the character's soap opera roots, making for a memorable theatrical experience.

21. There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood Daniel Day-Lewis
Image Credit: Paramount HE.

Without question, Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best directors working today, and most would agree that his masterpiece is There Will Be Blood. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as oil prospector Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood uses every cinematic tool to critique American history. It deserves to be seen on the best screen possible.

22. Grindhouse (2007)

Grindhouse Rosario Dawson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoë Bell, Tracie Thoms
Image Credit: Dimension Films.

As its name suggests, Grindhouse was built for cinemas. The passion project of directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, Grindhouse combined two films, the zombie thriller Planet Terror and the stunt car flick Death Proof, into a single movie, complete with fake trailers for equally cheesy productions. Sure, you can watch it at home, but it doesn't feel right.

23. The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight Christian Bale, Michael Caine
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

In 2008, superheroes conquered the movies, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with Iron Man. But it was the Christopher Nolan Batman flick The Dark Knight that showed the genre's potential. Even more than the chance to relive Heath Ledger's amazing turn as the Joker, fans want to see the IMAX sequences as Nolan shot them, filling up gigantic screens.

24. 1917 (2019)

1917 Benedict Cumberbatch
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

For his World War I drama 1917, director Sam Mendes wanted to capture the full horror of war by presenting the story as a single unbroken take. More than a gimmick, the lack of cuts draws viewers into the plight of two English soldiers (played by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman), especially when viewed in theaters.

25. Killer Raccoons 2: Dark Christmas in the Dark (2020)

Killer Raccoons 2: Dark Christmas in the Dark
Image Credit: Overbites Pictures and Studio Vista.

While one film fan noted this is an awful movie, they said it's best watched in a theater with other audience members. “It’s about the people. It’s about knowing you’re in a room with a couple hundred other people, and sharing that experience with them,” they explained.

Source: Reddit.