Even if you love the film you’re watching, getting stuck with a bad seat in the movie theater is all it takes to ruin your cinema experience. Some seats are obviously not ideal—like seats in the very front row or at the edges of the auditorium—but when it comes to all that room in the middle, picking the perfect place to sit may feel like guesswork.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Seat
According to Popular Science, you shouldn’t select your movie theater seat at random. To see as much of the action as possible, sit in a chair that lines you up with the center of the screen. Moviegoers in this spot will also enjoy better sound quality: Theaters with surround sound blast audio from speakers around the room, creating a harmony that strikes a perfect balance in the middle of the theater.
Sitting in the middle of a row may seem like an obvious tip, but things get a little more complicated when deciding how far away from the screen you should be. Instead of choosing the dead-center row, Vulture recommends sitting about two-thirds of the way back. This is where audio engineers do the primary tests on a theater’s sound system, so the middle seat of this row ends up giving moviegoers the optimal sound experience.
Sometimes, Closer Is Better
Of course, you can never guarantee you’ll have your pick of seats when going to see a movie. If the theater’s sweet spot is already full, defer to a seat closer to the screen rather than farther away: It may seem like this would give you smaller view of the screen, but sitting closer better utilizes your peripheral vision.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.