Stuck at Home? Host a Different Kind of Movie Night with Friends

March 15, 2020

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

We used to have in-person movie nights with popcorn and blankets on the floor. Now that our group of friends is choosing to stay home due to Coronavirus, we looked for ways to feel connected, with zero risk. 

The outcome of our brainstorming led to a different kind of movie night that was full of fun and laughter, despite us being at different locations. It worked so well that I’m writing to share how you can do it with your friends or family. 


The Big Idea:

A group of people, alone in their homes, watch the same (preferably bad) movie at the exact same time. As the movie plays, the group uses a group chat system to comment throughout the movie. I call it a “snark-a-thon” for obvious reasons.

How to Host a Snark-a-Thon Movie Night:

Organize a group. We had six people and it worked great. More could work, too. Each household needs an internet connection, access to movie websites, and a computer or device for chatting.

Choose a movie. We chose to focus on movies that fall into the “so bad it’s good” category for maximum snark. It’s important to pick a movie everyone can access. For us, Catwoman (2004) worked well and was $.99 on Amazon and available elsewhere. The Razzies website might be a good source for inspiration.

Catwoman Poster

Start a group chat. We used a Slack channel, but that’s not required. You could use text messages, Facebook Messenger, Gchat, GroupMe, etc. Anything that allows a group to chat synchronously will work.

Plan the event. We agreed to start the chat at 8:30 and start the show at 8:45. This gave everyone a chance to get comfortable, arrange for snacks and coordinate the start of the movie. The designated host will need to pause the movie near the start and share a timestamp (and photo) with the group to get everyone to the same scene. We used the title screen.

Start the show, together. A challenge is getting each household to start the movie at the same time. Once everyone has paused the movie at the same timestamp, the host can post “now” in the chat as the signal to unpause it. Alternatively, everyone can start it when phone clocks turn to a specific minute, like 8:46. Once it’s playing, it’s important that no one pause or rewind the movie. Synchrony is essential to making it work. 

Updated: Netflixparty is a Chrome browser extension that synchronizes video playback and provides for group chat.

Have fun. One of the reasons to use a bad movie is to not care too much about the plot. In our situation, the movie was secondary to the discussion. There were tangents, bad jokes, animated gifs and a LOT of laughing. The chat was continuous throughout the movie and became the real show. Being home-bound meant no one was driving, so we all partied as much as we wanted. 

In the end, we were all amazed at how well it worked. It made us feel connected despite the isolation and added real fun to a night that might have otherwise felt lonely. And we all practiced social distancing.  

You should host a snark-a-thon movie night! If you do, use #snarkathon when you talk about it online.

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Each week, I share a story from my life, which usually involves a recent move to an island, building a custom home, publishing books, and running a business. Learn more.

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