I’ve been going to the cinema for as long as I can remember. I’ve gone with my sister, my parents and my friends, to see the latest Harry Potter film, catch up on the most recent Disney release, and even just to fill in time.
My local cinema is independent, but surprisingly sophisticated and cheap. There are six different screens, all the same size as some of the larger chain outlets, and they show all the latest releases. They’ve even started doing midnight releases. I can also get an adult ticket, small popcorn and small drink for little over $10. It’s little wonder that cinema-going in my home town is a regular event. It’s not uncommon for people to go and see a movie just for the sake of it, and even watch a favourite movie multiple times while it’s still at the cinema.
Unfortunately, as I soon worked out, it’s not the same everywhere else.
On a recent cinema trip, I took notice of my surroundings, and exactly what it took to organise the trip. I categorised my journey in terms of Torsten Hagerstrand‘s concepts of Time Geography
Capability: The cinema we selected was approximately twenty minutes away from where we lived. We decided to leave 45 minutes early to allow for difficulty parking , the queues inside, and also to drop by the supermarket and pick up some snacks. (this lesson was learnt from past experience).
Coupling: As my two friends and I live together, it was relatively simple to pick a time and drive together. The movie we wanted to see was Guardians of the Galaxy. As avid Marvel movie fans, we’d been waiting months to see it, but also didn’t want to be part of the crowded rush that is opening night. So we waited until what we thought would be a quiet weekday night. We arrived twenty minutes early, meaning we beat the queues and had plenty of time to sit (up the back of the theatre, of course) and chat before the film started.
Authority: This cinema utilised something completely foreign to me with my small-town-cinema upbringing: seat numbers. However, we had visited this cinema before, and no one ever seemed to sit in their allotted seat because there were simply never enough people in the theatre for it to matter. We walked in to discover that there were people already sitting in our allotted seats. Not worried, we sat elsewhere. Unfortunately, this screening was very popular, and we soon had to move so a particularly large group could sit together. A couple behind us were very rudely and loudly told to move by two men whose seats they were sitting in, despite their assertions that someone had already sat in their allotted seats.
What followed was a very tense fifteen minutes, as people slowly filtered into the darkened cinema. We were acutely aware that the same thing that had happened to the couple behind us might happen again. We debated in whispers whether we should go and claim our allotted seats. We knew we weren’t authorised to be in the seats we were, and it made us uncomfortable.
None of us relaxed until twenty minutes into the film.
There is a lot of speculation about the future of the film industry. Many have warned that the increase of movie pirating will ruin cinema going. However, according t Screen Australia, cinema admissions have been fairly steady over the last decade, while box office intake has, mostly, been increasing.
So the facts do not back the statement.
As for the future, I think cinema going will still be popular for a long time. There are lots of different reason people go to the cinema, not just to see the film. They go with their friends to socialise, to experience the films they do want to see in their optimum environment, and to have something to do on a first date.
Cinema isn’t going anywhere just yet.