Why Is Cinema Mode So Dark and How Do You Fix it?

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Watching films at home comes with its own set of obstacles and challenges these days.

With filmmakers getting access to new technology there are plenty of instances of films looking great on their monitors on studio lots but looking haphazard on most people TV’s.

One picture setting that was introduced to combat this is cinema mode, also referred to as filmmaker mode.

Cinema Mode calibrates your TV settings to display movies in a way that matches the filmmaker’s intention.

However, this can cause problems. A big issue is that Cinema Mode can be very dark

Why is this? Why is Cinema Mode so dark?

Cinema Mode is often dark because it assumes you are watching in a dark room similar to a theater.

Watching this mode in a room with ambient light (sunlight) can cause you to squint and not see what’s happening on screen.

Cinema Mode provides the best picture quality of any other standard TV setting but you need to control your environment if you want to use it properly.

To use cinema mode properly I recommend the following solutions:

  • To control your environment I recommend getting blackout curtains which will block out external light and let you enjoy the enhanced contrast that cinema mode provides. I use the blackout curtains (affiliate link) from Eclipse. I used to have to deal with glare on my OLED TV but now I can watch movies with no reflection whatsoever.
  • Getting a QLED TV can also be beneficial. QLED TVs are brighter than other televisions and do a much better job of reducing glare and reflections because of this. I always recommend the TCL Q6 (affiliate link) which is the best budget QLED on the market.

Why so Dark?

Cinema Mode produces the least amount of brightness compared to all other popular TV settings.

This is because movies are usually seen in very dark rooms and the focus is not on displaying bright images but on displaying images with greater contrast in colors.

The brighter the image the less contrast there will be.

Personally, I watch all my movies in cinema mode because you get richer contrast and great black levels.

However, for a lot of people, the image is too dark.

That’s okay, it’s really a personal preference just be aware that you have likely been conditioned to like the brighter TV settings like vivid.

If you toggle between vivid and cinema mode you will see that the image in vivid is much more washed out.

In a dark room cinema mode is a great option, in a bright room I can understand why people would not like it.

How to Fix this Issue

I find that the vast majority of people who complain about images being too dark are watching movies in a sub-optimal environment.

Usually, there is a window directly behind them and sunlight is blasting part of the TV making it almost impossible to watch anything that isn’t excessively bright.

I wrote a separate article on this website describing why you should never have a TV opposite a window, which I encourage you to read.

I recommend getting blackout curtains for your home theater room as they will get rid of any glare and will allow you to see the spectacular contrast of cinema mode without squinting your eyes.

I personally use the absolute zero blackout curtains from Eclipse in my room.

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I also advise you to research your TV. Is it 4K? Does it have HDR? If not your TV might struggle to play darker scenes accordingly.

Generally speaking, QLED TV’s are great if you are in a bright room and do not want to get blackout curtains, there are so many models out there but the best pick for your money is definitely the TCL Q6.

TCL TVs are very cheap but not due to them being low quality. They are of very high quality and performance and are great for those looking for a low-cost option.

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Other TV settings worth considering

There are numerous TV settings available on modern TVs, these include Vivid, Standard, Gaming, IMAX Enhanced, and more.

I will specifically go into detail regarding Vivid and Standard below.

Arguably the two most popular picture settings outside of Cinema/Movie mode.


I personally never recommend using this setting unless you are in an extremely bright room.

If sunlight is hitting your TV then Vivid makes sense as other modes will not emit enough brightness for you to see what’s happening on screen.

However, if you are in a very bright room where sunlight or glare is causing problems then I encourage you to read some other articles on this website that detail how to combat this.

Overall images in Vivid are washed out and the color temperature is uneven, it can also cause eye strain due to it being so bright.


Standard is usually the default picture setting you get with your TV.

I recommend using this setting in moderately bright rooms for watching television or YouTube.

It’s a perfectly fine picture setting for the vast majority of people’s TV rooms.

However, if you are watching 4k or HDR content it won’t pop as much as in something like cinema mode.

What to do if you don’t like Cinema mode/Dark Images.

It’s completely understandable if you don’t like Cinema Mode, most people are used to brighter images.

Definitely stay clear of technology like OLED or 4K HDR if you do not like darker images with more contrast.

I’d recommend changing your picture setting to something else and not buying OLED, instead get a QLED if you can, which I’ll explain further below.

However, I advise you to give cinema mode a chance.

My Experience: Give it a week

I know personally that I thought it was too dark at first but after a week of watching movies in that setting, I can’t go back to standard or Vivid.

You are likely to notice the difference in the quality of the image and contrast if you flip back and forth through the settings.

Cinema mode just has a bite to the image that the other settings do not. It’s of much higher quality.

How to properly utilize Cinema/Filmmaker Mode to its full potential: Double Down on Dark

To properly utilize the color contrast of Cinema Mode I recommend watching movies in 4K Blu-Ray or streaming 4K HDR on a OLED TV.


HDR or high dynamic range often produces dark images as well. You can watch films in HDR formats such as Dolby Vision, HDR 10, or HDR 10 Plus.

If you have a 4K TV you will at the very least have HDR 10 most likely, although earlier models of 4k TVs did not have any HDR formats built in.

Watching films in HDR will only further increase the contrast in the image you are watching and will produce a wider color gamut.

HDR also emits more brightness with HDR 10 reaching peak brightness reaching anywhere from 1000-4000 Nits.


OLED provides a noticeably lower level of brightness than other TVs but provides perfect black levels and stellar color contrast, arguably much better than the picture quality you see in the best movie theaters in the world.

I wrote a separate article on this site explaining why OLED is great in rooms with low brightness that you can check out.

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