The average amount of times which Australian’s frequent cinema’s per year has dropped a lot over the past decade.
Swedish Geographer, Torsten Hagerstrand, has three constraints that he believes stop people from going about their daily lives. The constraints can also be applied to cinema attendance.
- Capability – the limitations on human movement due to physical or biological factors. For example, it is impossible to instantaneously go from one place to another, one has to figure out how they might travel to their destination, whether by car, train, bicycle or by foot.
- Coupling constraint – the need to be in one particular place for a given length of time, often in interaction with other people. This meaning that if you going to the cinema requires meeting up with someone else this must be organized.
- Authority constraint – an area (or “domain”) that is controlled by certain people or institutions that set limits on its access to particular individuals or groups. For example, when at the cinema movie ratings determine how old a person must be if they are to see that movie.
This week I was unable to go to the cinema as I was limited mostly by the capability constraint. I do not drive and so it is somewhat harder for me to go to the cinema, especially at night as some buses stop running. If I had been very determined I could have caught the bus in but if I’m being bluntly honest there is nothing on at the cinema right now that interests me. I suppose that might also fall under the authority constraint as the major reason I don’t want to see a movie which I’m not interested in is that I can’t afford to. Being an adult, paying bills and buying groceries mean I have to budget my other spendings. Such fun. Also I’ve never been cool enough to go to the cinema on my own so I would’ve had to organize to go with someone else, enter the coupling restraint.
“The proportion of Australians attending the cinema at least once per year has averaged 69 per cent since 2000, with an average of about eight visits per year per person. After last reaching a high of 72 per cent in 2004, the attendance rate has averaged 68
per cent in the subsequent eight years. The frequency of attendance also fell slightly during this time, and is now at 6.9 visits per year compared to 7.8 in 2004.” – Screen Australia
Also according to Screen Australia, people aged between 14-24 frequent the cinema more than any other age group
Cinema attendance is slowly declining, this was probably first due to VCR’s and DVDs but has most likely decreased at a quicker rate since the introduction of online streaming and downloads. Over the next 5 to 10 years I don’t think cinema’s will disappear completely as there is still a market for them. It’s a social place where people can enjoy film together rather at home alone and there is quite a culture around social film watching. I know my mum is part of a film club back home where they show alternative movies at our local cinema a couple of times a month for all the members of the club. It’s a complete viewing experience, which is something I’ve always loved about going to the cinema. The eerie dimming of the lights which always got me excited as child, watching trailers for upcoming movies and the collective ooh-ing and ahh-ing response of the audience during climax moments of the film.
Nowadays, I only go to the movies on rare occasions, usually only to see movies that I’ve already been looking forward to months prior of the release. With the recent introduction of Netflix in Australia cinema viewing might decline even more over coming years, a lot of local cinemas will probably be forced into extinction, which is a pity. When viewing from the comfort of your own home is possible why should people bother going to the cinema? Is the experience it offers enough to force people to get out of their PJs and jump in the car?
One of my favourite cinemas that holds sentimental value for me, simply because it reminds me of childhood summers, is the Narooma Kinema. Every summer I spend a week down the south coast with family friends, and we would always go to the small, old-fashioned movie theatre even though I could swear they bring out films months after the initial release date. Whenever I go there over the summer my friends and I will still go to this little cinema at least once. It might be pricey and not as good quality as bigger cinemas but it comes with it past summer experiences and memories of happier times.
Since 2004 when cinema attendance was at it’s highest there hasn’t been a lot of fluctuation in the percentage of people who go to the cinema every year. So perhaps Australian cinemas maintain a steady influx of people each year and they will survive on for a long time yet.