The experience of being in a room filled with people who want to see the same film at the same time as you used to fasinate me as a child. I would sit there eagerly waiting for the lights to dim, the first boom to sound and slurp the last bit of my drink – yes I am that person who finishes everything before the adverts. But going to the cinema today, is a whole other experience and it has a lot more to offer.
In 1969, Torsten Hägerstrand (p.50) developed three constraints known as: capability, coupling and authority constraints. The first constraint, capability, asks whether a person can get to the destination. The second restraint, coupling, asks whether an individual can get there on time. And finally, authority constraints asks the question of am I allowed to be here?
So when the task of going to the cinema was a requirement for uni – something my friend could not believe – I jumped at the chance to sit and stare at a screen for an hour or so. I thought about Hägerstrand’s constraints throughout the entire planning and execution process and it became clear how difficult it was to plan the night out. Firstly, capability; I am able to drive and my friend who joined me lives about six minutes away and the cinema is a short ten or fifteen minute drive. So far, I have aced Hägerstrand’s theory. Secondly, coupling; my wonderful, beautiful friend who has so many great qualities is notorious for being late and last night was no exception. We were planning to get to the 6:30 session for A One-Hundred Foot Journey but ended up arriving at the cinema at 7pm and after speed buying overpriced drinks, we ran into the dark cinema where the majority of people rolled their eyes and groaned as we wiggled through to our assigned seats as the cinema was absolutely packed. Finally, authority – am I allowed to be here? The cinema is a public space despite it being a temporary space, and we were both over 15. Two out of three is not bad.
But can this form of cinema exist in the next four, five or ten years?
One potential selling point that the cinema has is that it is an opportunity to leave the house without having to leave comfort which is a pretty good trade. But these cinemas in London, are really setting high standards. Electric Cinema on Portobello Road in London, offers different forms of seating – from standard cinema chairs to plush, velvet and leather armchairs. Ummm, yes please! Or if it is something more upmarket and fancy then the Edible Cinema offers themed food and drinks, “each guest is supplied with a tray of numbered boxes containing mini cocktails and bite-sized tasting menu tailored to specific moments in the film.” The most popular is Romeo & Juliet – of course.
But the mere, humble cinema that we see in Australia is not going to survive the next few years. According to Schwartzel and Fritz (2014) in the U.S., box office revenue increased 17% in 2013 but that is not due to attendance rather the increased price which went from $7.96 to $8.13 – which is small compared to Australia where a student ticket will set you back $13.50. Moreover, the number of tickets sold fell to nearly 11% between 2004 and 2013.
So the cinema may not last any longer than a few more years. That is unless they introduce something that will make it more than just a movie on a screen. A Capulet Cocktail anyone?
Fritz, B & Schwartzel, E, 2014, ‘Fewer Americans Go to the Movies’, Wall Street Journal Online, viewed August 30, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303949704579461813982237426