When casting my mind back I found it difficult to remember the last time I visited the cinema. As a broke university student who can’t afford nice things, cinema trips do fall into the category of unnecessary wants. Now I really only go if it’s an organised group event and a movie that I really want to see.
On that note, is cinema attendance something that’s changing because of the Internet? Originally the theatre was the only place where you could see a movie when it was first released. Now movies are easily pirated and uploaded on several websites for people to download or stream at home. Does the theatre offer enough in terms of quality and experience for people to bypass this option?
Let’s be real, we all stream our favourite T.V shows and movies. Sometimes it’s easy; type in Game of Thrones and you’ll be given a plethora of websites to choose from. Other times it’s completely frustrating and not at all worth it. We’re all familiar with those instances when you go to sit down and watch something and an hour later you’re still loading a movie after going through several links that ask you to purchase a subscription to their website and have closed down several “Congratulations you’ve won!” ads. In this situation you’re definitely not the winner as when the movie finally loads it’s poor, blurry quality and you just can’t ignore the fact that the sound is out of sync with the footage for the next two hours.
Hagerstrand (1970) identified three constraints that can be applied when going to the movies:
- Coupling constraints – Limits on where and when the activity takes place. This applies to how long movies are screened in cinemas and people’s proximity to a cinema. People may not have the time to see a movie they want while it is showing or those living in rural areas may not have access to a cinema they can easily get to.
- Capability constraints – limits on human movement due to physical or biological factors, for example sleeping, eating and financial resources. Price is a large factor in the decision process of whether or not to go as the cost of seeing a single movie is gradually increasing.
- Authority constraints– limits on when activities can or cannot take place or be located, imposed by external parties constraint controls the behaviour of people participating in an activity. Movie goers are expected to stay in allotted seats, turn off phones and stay silent throughout the showing, which may sway people to viewing it in their own home instead.
The last movie I attended was the final ‘Hunger Games’ with my sister last Summer. A student ticket at Hoyts was almost $20, and extras such as popcorn and drinks tend to bring the price up close to $30. Popular movies like this tend to still bring people to cinemas as they can then join in the conversation about the movie with friends and on social media without having it spoiled. However, with sites such as Netflix and the introduction of a television with Internet access, the home provides a more comfortable and private environment where people can socialise throughout the movie and conform to their own rules. Will this win out over the social activity and novelty of going to the movies?