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2018 movies you have to see in theaters

There's something special about going to the movies. Look, we love streaming services as much as the next movie fan. And we're not ready to say that physical media is dead quite yet. But neither will ever match the experience of seeing a movie in theaters with a crowd of fellow film fans. There's no shortage of reasons we haven't closed them up and just started releasing everything directly to Netflix yet: Watching a movie at home can't match the scope of a movie screen, or replicate the feeling of being in an audience and collectively gasping at a great reveal or screaming at a great jump scare. 

Of course, plenty of films are just fine to take in for the first time on your home theater or portable device of choice, but every year brings a new crowd of releases that really need the big screen to be truly appreciated, and 2018 is no different. Here's a look at some of the biggest 2018 movies that demand to be seen in theaters.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is as big as they get

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the action spectacle to end all action spectacles. Short of a particularly bonkers Fast and Furious installment, you're not going to find a more spectacularly bombastic action thriller from start to finish. From a ridiculous skydiving stunt (that Tom Cruise pulled off for real) to a helicopter battle ranking among the best action scenes of all time, it's an adrenaline-drenched thrill ride. Why wouldn't you experience it in the theater — particularly an IMAX theater — the way it was meant to be seen?

Even the sharpest home display can't properly convey the spectacle of Tom Cruise and company speeding through European landscapes in cool cars, jumping out of planes, or narrowly escaping explosions. Mission: Impossible - Fallout is a big movie, and it demands a big screen. You can take your pick between IMAX and standard screenings, but either way, you can pretty much guarantee it'll be a great time. Everything great about seeing a summer blockbuster in a movie theater is present in Mission: Impossible - Fallout

First Man takes you into orbit

Action movies and special effect-driven science fiction outings look great on a big screen, it's true. That said, they're far from the only films that demand a theatrical experience. Take Damien Chazelle's First Man, for instance: the Best Director winner is following up 2016's La La Land with a period piece about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Starring Ryan Gosling as the legendary Neil Armstrong, it looks to be a riveting drama that could easily earn Chazelle some new awards season hardware for his mantel.

Chazelle shot select scenes with IMAX 70mm film, and that's the way he intends for First Man to be seen. It”ll look great on home media, but there's something particularly spectacular about seeing films shot for IMAX on an IMAX screen (the opening scene of The Dark Knight is a stellar example). Second, it revolves around the most famous lunar mission of all time. The Apollo 11 launch and subsequent landing on the moon (uh, spoiler alert) is going to look spectacular on a massive screen. Why waste the chance to see a director recreate the moon landing with an IMAX camera?

Go out for a bite with The Meg

There are certain things you just have to see on a big screen, and a really big shark is absolutely one of them. The Meg is about a prehistoric Megalodon that has somehow survived into the present day. Said Megalodon then goes on to munch on some beachgoers and fight Jason Statham (all due respect to the Rock, but this has gotta be the all-time greatest matchup in a Statham movie).

Sure, you could watch Jason Statham fight a prehistoric shark on your laptop, but why do that when you can watch Jason Statham fight a prehistoric shark on the biggest screen possible? In addition to the giant shark, the film features a marine base located at the bottom of the ocean floor, with a whole lot of killer sequences that take place underwater. A big-screen experience is going to fully immerse you in the marine world of the film, and that's exactly how you should see The Meg. Plus, again, this is a movie in which Statham fights a Megalodon. This is why movie theaters still exist. 

Venom isn't your average hero

Few movies suit the big screen quite like superhero films. They're so inherently, well, big. From the stakes often revolving around the potential end of the world to the massive special effects to the characters themselves, there's just something right about seeing them in a theater with a bunch of fellow fans. While some of the year's biggest superheroic spectacles have already come and gone from theaters, Superhero Season 2018 isn't over quite yet.

Spider-Man's goth symbiote twin makes his solo big-screen debut in Venom, and this is definitely one you need to see in a theater. Director Ruben Fleischer (of Zombieland fame) has put together a twisted, brutal, and witty take on the popular Marvel antihero. Aside from the great cast led by Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, the effects look killer — and with an IMAX release to accompany its standard theatrical run, you aren't going to want to miss Venom at a theater near you.

The Predator hunts again

Shane Black directing a new release featuring one of the great movie monsters of all time is reason enough to check out The Predator in theaters. The writer/director is responsible for some of the better action movies in recent memory, a couple of delightfully bizarre modern detective masterpieces, and one of the more unique superhero movies of all time. Considering this — and the fact that Black appeared as an actor in the original Predator, making for a nice full circle journey — The Predator is a must-see.

Few genres play as reliably well in theaters as action and horror. A big screen brings out the bombast inherent in action, and an audience amplifies the experience of seeing a horror movie. Movies in the Predator franchise (even the bad ones) have always found themselves neatly at the intersect of these genres, delivering all the fights and explosions you'd want from an action movie as well as the suspense and gore of great horror. Why wouldn't you want to see this one in theaters? The Predator looks to have everything we love about going to the movies wrapped up in one neat package.

Halloween comes home

Horror is better in theaters. It's just the way things are, a veritable law of moviegoing. There's just something special about experiencing a horror film for the first time on a big screen with an audience — sharing a collective reaction to a great scare or the rapt silence as tension builds in a scene. Few cinematic boogeymen have delivered big-screen scares quite as effectively over the years as Michael Myers, and now he's back in a brand new Halloween that hearkens back to the original.

Directed by David Gordon Green of Pineapple Express fame and cowritten by his frequent collaborator Danny McBride, the film sees original protagonist Laurie Strode (played once again by the legendary Jamie Lee Curtis) return to screens to take on the man who ruined her life. It looks to be a return to form for the series, and with the greatest slasher villain of all time returning to cinemas for the first time in nearly a decade, you don't want to miss the chance to see Halloween with a bunch of fellow moviegoers who are just as delightfully scared out of their minds as you are.

The Nun blesses horror fanatics

Not to sound like a broken record, but horror warrants an audience and a big screen. That would be reason enough to head to your local cineplex to check out The Nun, the latest installment in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe — perhaps the most reliably frightening film franchise of the last decade. However, if the promise of shared scares isn't enough to pull you in, there's an even better reason to see The Nun in theaters.

IMAX screenings tend to be reserved for blockbusters and, well, documentaries about pandas (no disrespect to documentaries about pandas). It's somewhat rare for a horror film to be shown on the biggest screens in the world, but The Nun is the exception to the rule. The films in the Conjuring franchise have been some of the most delightfully frightening in recent memory — imagine how much scarier it will be to see the demon Valak on a gargantuan IMAX screen. We're getting chills just thinking about it.

Bohemian Rhapsody will rock you

Generations of Queen fans will never get to see Freddie Mercury perform live. Sure, we have concert DVDs and Adam Lambert, but it isn't quite the same — and although the band biopic Bohemian Rhapsody won't function as a literal time machine taking viewers back to Queen's greatest shows, it may be the next best thing.

When done right, a great musical biopic can make the viewer feel as though they're in the arena or club with the artist. Bohemian Rhapsody surveys the rise of the group, including multiple concert recreations, but the big draw here is Queen's famous shows at Wembley Stadium and Live Aid (which also took place at Wembley). While both of these performances are available on DVD, it's tough to feel like you're in the crowd when watching it on TV at home. Bohemian Rhapsody gives fans a chance to sit in a theater and see a recreation of Queen's biggest concerts of all time on a massive screen — and tragically, that's about as close as anyone can get to seeing Mercury tear up the stage today.

Creed II goes for the knockout

A great sports movie makes you feel the drama of a game, match, or fight as though you're in the crowd watching it live, and few sports movies can match the Rocky franchise. They've consistently captured the heart-pounding drama of a great boxing match with pulse-pounding grace, and there's nothing like seeing one in a theater full of people who collectively forget that what they're watching is a work of fiction and react to every punch and swing accordingly.

2015 saw the franchise make an unlikely comeback with Ryan Coogler's Creed, which shifted the focus from Rocky Balboa to the son of his old rival Apollo Creed. Adonis Creed's journey proved hugely resonant and garnered great acclaim, featuring a number of memorable boxing matches including a particularly thrilling one filmed in a single extended tracking shot. The journey of Adonis continues in Creed II, and you don't want to miss it in theaters. Seeing a Rocky movie on the big screen with an excited crowd is a special experience that doesn't come around too often — plus, a movie ticket is way cheaper than trying to go to the real thing.

Spider-Man ventures Into the Spider-Verse

The small screen just doesn't do certain things justice, and stunning art direction and design in animation is one of them. Why watch a movie that puts visual splendor at the foreground at home when it's going to be ten times as immersive in the theater? Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is no exception.

Into the Spider-Verse is a Spidey film unlike any we've seen before. It focuses on the younger Spider-Man, Miles Morales, rather than Peter Parker. Speaking of Peter, he's significantly older than we're used to seeing him this time around, settling into more of a mentor role for Miles in this story. It's also the first theatrically released animated Spider-Man film, telling Miles' story through hyper-stylized art that draws its influence from comic books with an aesthetic that combines the feel of hand-drawn animation with CGI. A colorful visual spectacle to behold, it needs to be seen on a big screen in order to be fully appreciated.

Aquaman introduces us to Atlantis

Ten years ago if you'd told us Aquaman would be one of our most anticipated movies of the year, we'd have laughed. Nonetheless, here we are in 2018, stoked out of our minds for a movie about that superhero who talks to fish. Justice League may have been a letdown, but Jason Momoa's take on the King of Atlantis is one of the film's strongest elements, and seeing him return to the role — alongside a killer cast that includes Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, and Amber Heard — feels like it could be something special. 

All that said, the visual spectacle of Atlantis itself could end up stealing the show. The first trailer gives us a tantalizing glimpse of the lush underwater kingdom, filled with beautiful design and color, making it clear that a world like this is too big to be properly appreciated anywhere other than a movie theater. It remains to be seen whether Aquaman will be more Wonder Woman than Suicide Squad, but a killer cast, Atlantis, and more Momoa is more than enough to make it a must-see at your local cineplex.

Avengers: Infinity War is a sight to behold

Statistically, there's a really good chance you've already seen Avengers: Infinity War. It's easily among the most popular movies of the year, raking in over $2 billion at the box office. Anybody who loves blockbuster filmmaking has probably seen it at least once in theaters. And why wouldn't you? It's the biggest superhero movie of all time — and one of the most ambitious and bombastic movies ever made.

It's also strangely rewatchable for a viewing experience that's nearly three hours long. Experiencing the highs and lows of the film on the big screen, from the Battle of Wakanda to the heartbreaking death of Gamora, in a theater full of fellow MCU fans is such a special and unique moviegoing experience. Once Infinity War has left theaters, it's gone for good (at least until the next two-day MCU marathon) so if you haven't seen it, check it out. And if you have seen it, it's worth giving one last go while you still can.