Features and Columns · Movies

A Fast and Furious History of the Home Theater

Let’s all go to the living room … let’s all go to the living room …
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By  · Published on November 14th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at the evolution of the home theater.


I’d imagine that you could teach a very thorough film history course through the lens of the home theater. In fact, I would be totally unfazed if anyone out there is already doing that.

The story of how movies transitioned from disposable diversions to something to collect, cherish, and own is inextricably linked to the history of the Western film industry. From commercial interests to film piracy, from the rental market to the Criterion Collection, the movement of movies out of the movie house and into our living rooms is like a speedrun of Hollywood’s highs and lows.

The following video essay details what could double for book chapters: the overview of each turn, twist, and seismic change in the evolution of the home theater. This video essay is explicitly focused on the role of physical media in the development of the home theater. But it’s not hard to let your mind wander towards the un-mentioned disruptive elephant in the room: streaming. This video essay came out in 2013, the same year that the first season of House of Cards hit Netflix, so a lot has changed since … and the story of the home theater is far from over.

Watch “The Evolution of Home Theater – Big Tech of the Small Screen”


Who made this?

This video essay on the evolution of the home theater is by Filmmaker IQ, a YouTube channel disseminating all manner of film history and know-how. Their videos range from the highly technical (what to do if your green screen footage has something green in it) to the opinionated (are superhero movies destroying cinema?). Site creator and director John P. Hess is our narrator. You can subscribe to Filmmaker IQ on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).