For example, does the 2 chan pre need to be on when watching a movie? I think so, but that means a tube pre is kinda out of the question, since it would burn through the tubes much quicker.Your amp(s) will connect to the preamp. The signal is routed from the preamp to your HT processor where the amp input, bypassing the preamp. Some preamps need to be powered on, others don't.
I use a tube preamp this way. I listen to music much more than I listen to movies. I don't worry much about tube life. If I wasn't watching a movie, I'd probably be listening to music. I don't generally use the front two speakers when listening to TV, I leave the preamp off and listen through the center channel from the HT processor.