Movies are great. Every adult alive has watched at least 35. Reasonable people may completely disagree on whether a movie is good (except for Avatar, seemingly) but we always agree on what a movie actually is. Because, handily, there are some definitive features that set a movie apart from a YouTube video. While the fact that they aren’t produced in some guy’s bedroom is one of them, it’s not actually the definitive differentiator.
Take something like length, for a start. Most modern movies fall in the 80-150 minute range. Early movies were rarely longer than a few minutes due to the technological limitations of the era. As technology improved, movies got longer. Then they stopped (except The Lord Of The Rings). We discovered through trial and error that 90 minutes was just about long enough.
Other features like theatrical releases are also due to historical limitations rather than conscious choice. Because, of course, theatre was the only place anyone could watch a movie for most of the first half of the 20th century. Then TVs became widespread but theatres have refused to die and that tradition just stuck.
Some of the other features have more exciting origins though. And those will be the focus of this article.