Inside the space and attendance of Cinema

Cinema has always been a great part of people’s lives. Each time you go inside a movie theatre you are in for quite an experience. We all have different reasons for going. These could include going on your first date. You’re a film buff and you feel obligated to watch everything that comes out or it could be a thing where you say you know what I might go to the cinema today just for the sake of it. Well I am the film buff kind of guy. I love going to the cinema and embrace the story that is being told on the screen. It is the best medium to tell a story. Cinema is spatial because people have access to it. It is changing in new and innovative ways. Cinema enhances our understanding of space through the showing of stories which people can relate to in their own lives.

5-CROWDS-not-an-empty-seat-in-the-house

(New City Film 2015)

The global film industry faces a lot of significant obstacles each and every day. Movies are always changing in terms of the way they are made, what movies people are seeing and what influences people to go to the cinema. Before conducting extensive research I managed to interview my cousin Grant Davies. He is a film projectionist at Paramount pictures in Echuca. He has worked in cinema for 26 years and started as a volunteer worker. It was a locally run cinema which also had a live theatre venue. The first film projector he used were typical ones that were used in the 1920’s. They had carbon arc lighting system and two thousand foot spools as you can see below.

film projector
(Criterion Collection 2015)

In 2000 he completed his TAFE course on film projection and began work for Independent cinema where he looked after commissioning and installation of 35 mm film projectors. Davies is someone who has been a part of the space of cinema for an extensive period of time. The ultimate question to identify on why people grow accustomed to the atmosphere and public space of a cinema would be this: Why do people go to the cinema? My cousin replied by saying.

“Most people attend movies at the cinema to see the latest release movies on a big screen, in comfort and with good sound.”

We go to the cinema not to embrace the public space but the feel of it. We want to live it by having the comfort of listening to certain sounds at a higher level. Sounds meaning anything that is being heard by the audience whether that is conversations, music or ambient noise. In Australia, cinema can be one of the most popular forms of cultural entertainment that can be embrace audiences from a wide range of demographics (Aveyard 2011, p.124). Australia is a multicultural country and cinema can be a way for cultures to integrate through watching a story unfold through the medium of film. In rural areas like Echuca Victoria Grant Davies experiences a different kind of space than cinemas in capital cities.

Rural cinemas provide a public setting for friendships to be established (Aveyard 2011, p. 126). They can help gain a sense of attachment to where the cinema is located geographically. I can definitely relate to this as I live in a rural town called Kiama. The nearest cinema is Greater Union Shellharbour which I consider my second home. I try to go there once a fortnight to watch any new release which interests me the most. I remember a couple of years ago when I saw Interstellar. It was one of the best experiences I ever had at the cinema. I was in comfort and the sounds of the space crafts and dust storms were intensified. Through embracing the sound I managed to engage more with my surroundings.

Now that we know why people attend cinema there has been a gap created. If people like to go to the cinema to hear sounds amplified why in Australia especially is declining even if people really like attending the cinema. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 68% of Australians in 2014 attended a cinema. Over the past ten years that percentage has fluctuated between 67 to 69%. Cinema can appeal more to certain age demographics than others. For example in 2010 93% between of people from the age of 15 to 17 have attended the cinema once in a year. As the demographics people tend to find it harder to attend cinema as that percentage declines. 71 % of people between the age of 35 to 44 have attended the cinema whilst only 32% of people aged 75 and above. From these statistics we can see that the space of cinema has been transformed to attract younger people. It is replicated in the studio films that we today. For example The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars are films which are likely to attract younger audiences. (The jury is still out on whether those movies are good or not). Its films like this the younger generation can feel comfortable in the cinema. Even though they embrace the space of new technologies there will always be an urge for them to enjoy films in the oldest tradition.

My cousin Grant Davies can understand the trend in declining audience numbers. He feels it has a lot to do with how new cinema releases do not stay long enough.

“Over the last six to eight years the time a new release movie stays at a cinema on average has decreased. For example, a good movie title may have shown on average six weeks before we stopped playing it. Now we are lucky for that to be two or three weeks on average”.

When he told me this it brought me back to the start of the year when I wanted to see Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. It played in Sydney for two weeks but nowhere in the Illawarra. I was frustrated because I knew it was going to be a good movie so I waited a couple of months to rent it out on DVD. It all depends on the success of the film. For example the highest grossing film to come out this year was Jurassic World which stayed in American theatres for almost 16 and half weeks after release. It grossed 1.5 billion worldwide and made 218 million on its opening weekend. But then there are other films which only get released for a couple of weeks. This means people are trying to find another space to feel comfortable in order to watch a film. So if you wanted to watch a film so desperately you would seek alternatives. We would choose the option which would give us more satisfaction. In the video below AMC Theartes explain what factors influence a movie to stay longer at the cinema.

If audiences can’t see the film they opt to choose other ways to watch their film. For example the rise of Netflix has not only impacted cinema but television industry. Netflix has grown on an international front over the last few years. It provides unlimited rental access to TV shows and movies via online or mail on a low monthly subscription rate (Allen, Fells and Disbrow, 2014 p.136). Netflix will make it hard for DVD stores and cinemas as they cannot provide the fast and efficient service quick enough. People demand things and want to be in a space where they have all of their wants given straight to them. Some people do not want to wait months for their movie to come out in theatres. They can instead get it straight away for cheaper money. Netflix can be accessed on different types of platforms like Iphone, I Pod Touch, Nintendo touch and other internet services (Allen, Fells and Disbrow 2014, p.137). Grant Davies also feels that Netflix is not only problem that cinemas face but feels that some people do not have the attention span that they used to.

“it seems that the attention span of the younger generation has fallen and so they feel more comfortable in the space of their own home. So with the way the internet is movies are becoming easier to access”

Cinema does have quite significant obstacles to face. There are strategies to overcome these problems by as Grant Davies points out:

  1. They have to be far more engaged with social media
  2. ensuring cinemas have the latest technology e.g 3D vision, things which families do not have in their own household.
  3. cinema owners talking to studios and allowing them to cash in online market

But for me cinema will not be erased away from society. There are still people out there that enjoy the space of cinema. Its a place where we can clear our thoughts and embrace the surroundings and people around us. It does not matter what type of cinema going person you are. Whether you are a film buff or you just go for the sake of it. Going to the cinema can stamp an instant moment in your life which you will never forget.

References
Allen, G, Feils, D, & Disbrow, H 2014, ‘THE RISE AND FALL OF NETFLIX: WHAT HAPPENED AND WHERE WILL IT GO FROM HERE?’, Journal Of The International Academy For Case Studies, 20, 1, pp. 135-143, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 October 2015.

Aveyard, K 2011, ‘WHAT THE COUNTRY TELLS US: THE PLACE OF THE ‘RURAL’ IN CONTEMPORARY STUDIES OF CINEMA’, Media International Australia (8/1/07-Current), 139, pp. 124-132, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 October 2015.

Hancock, M 2007, ‘METRO 155 The Big Picture’, Metro, 155, pp. 154-157, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 26 October 2015.

Kelly, S 2012, ‘Going to the cinema: does this rant against Odeon strike a chord?’, The Guardian, 30 August, viewed 25 October 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/30/cinema-odeon-rant

PITTS, V 2011, ‘Technologies of culture: Digital feature film-making in New Zealand’, New Cinemas: Journal Of Contemporary Film, 9, 1, pp. 3-17, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 25 October 2015.