We watch movies because we are in search of something; something is missing in our lives. Movies provide for us many things that we may not have otherwise. The obvious provisions offered to us by movies are adventure and entertainment. However, movies can offer a plethora of other things. All of which can be found in the example of the Harry Potter films.
Entertainment is the most obvious thing we receive from movies. Harry Potter offers entertainment via humor and magic. Maybe your life is dull and boring and you just want to laugh. Harry Potter can do that for you.
Another obvious gift from movies is adventure. Through movies, you can travel to places you may never get to go to. In the example of Harry Potter, it’s because they’re not real…but that makes the adventure even better.
Not only do movies offer adventure, they offer you someone to make the journey with. You’re not just watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione fight at the Battle of Hogwarts, you’re there fighting alongside them. Movies provide friendship. Friendship is something that we take for granted. We think, “everyone has friends. Why would that be something you’d need to get from a movie?” Not everyone has friends, though. Or even if you do have friends, you may have a falling out with them, but the Golden Trio will always be there for you.
Or maybe it’s not necessarily a friend you’re looking for, but someone to relate to. There are also sorts of characters in Harry Potter. The eccentric outcast, the (extreme) bookworm, the middle child, the timid one, the poor family, and of course, the orphan. It’s always comforting to know there is someone out there just like you.
Movies also offer bad things, but in a good way. Most movies have some sort of evil. It’s good to experience evil via movies because it’s a safe environment. As real as they may seem on screen, you don’t really have to worry about having your soul sucked out by Dementors or being killed by Death Eaters. Also, in movies, there’s always a hero, and the hero always prevails in the end.
That is why we watch movies. We watch purely for entertainment value, we watch in order to go on adventures to far away (and sometimes imaginary) lands, we watch because we seek companionship stronger than any friendships we may forge in reality, and we watch because evil is real and it’s comforting to see the the victory of the underdog. Movies are the easiest way to fill some void in our lives. Because all of these aspects, especially the need for adventure and friendship, are universal across time and space, I’m sure they have been the motives of viewers for many decades past and will continue to be the reason we watch movies in the future.