A CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE | AMERICAN ULTRA

The cinema, for me, is a place I go to pass some time. Whether it be taking my little cousins, or going on a date with my boyfriend, or just out with some friends to see the latest flick. My favourite thing about the movies is probably the popcorn, but a close second would definitely be having all my attention focused on the movie, not playing around on my phone or laptop at the same time (I have a very bad habit of being un-focused). I can quite happily say that I still go to the movies on a regular basis.

Although I still frequent the cinema, there are often barriers that get in the way, busy schedules, finding someone to attend with, and the permission of being there are constricting factors that limit ones attendance to the cinema. Torsten Hargerstrand, a Swedish geographer, created time geography in the mid 1960s. Through this research he identified constraints that prevent people from moving freely, and these findings demonstrate how human spatial activity is sometimes governed by limitations, and not by decision makers themselves. The three constraints include:

Capability – Are there physical limits?

Authority – Are you allowed to be there?

Coupling – Can you get there at the right time?

Over the weekend, a group of friends and I chose to go and see the movie American Ultra. The constraints definitely came into play when having to get to the movie. The movie was at the Greater Union Cinema in Shellharbour, meaning it was a good 25 minute drive from home in Wollongong. It was at 9:30pm, meaning that everyone had plenty of time to get there – though we got there JUST on time.

Coupling came into play, as my boyfriend and I had dinner with his family at 7:30, and were unsure if we were going to make it in time. We also had to go and pick up my friend from work, and then head off to the cinema. This meant we had to leave dinner at 8:55, go to my friend’s work and wait out the front, until she ran out and we sped off to the movie. Luckily, our other friends got to the cinema early, and held our place in line, so that we could get tickets, and didn’t miss too many previews.

One reason I don’t attend the cinema too often, is definitely because of the price. Gary Maddox stated that ‘What could be a psychological barrier for movie goers, the top price of an ordinary cinema ticket has hit $20’. It definitely is a constraint when buying 2 movie tickets, a bottle of water, and a small packet of skittles costs you $40. Authority was a constraint that we could get around with the purchase of a ticket. Capability came into play, as my friends chose a cinema 25 minutes away, when there’s a perfectly good one in Wollongong, yet it wasn’t playing the movie we wanted to see.

Before the film begun, we had a few issues. Unfortunately, there were people in our seats (who likes that arranged seating issue anyway?), meaning we sat in the row in front of them. This meant that we were in OTHER people’s seats, making it a very awkward time for all. When we were confronted, the people in our original seats moved, and they sat there, making everyone very happy.

It was surprising to see that there were quite a few people at the movie, which made me research more into movie-goers. Has cinema attendance dropped drastically like so many people think? Not really, as it only decreased from 70% to 68% in the span of a year. Screen Australia stated that the proportion of Australian’s attending the cinema at least once per year has averaged to 69% since 2000.  Of course, all the movie-goers were around our age, as it was a 9:30pm movie session. As described on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, age is definitely a factor when it comes to attendance at the cinema. Cinema declines with age, and between 2009 and 2010, children between 15-17 were most likely to attend the cinema than any other age group, with 93% of the age group attending the cinema at least once.

Source: ABS

Source: ABS

With the launch of Netflix and Stan, it’s scary to think about where the future of the cinema is headed. With the cinema attendance rates drop dramatically over the next 5 to 10 years? Netflix already has over 1 million subscribers in Australia, making it easier than ever to sit at home and not have to deal with going in public to view a movie. Though, there’s really nothing like getting a large popcorn (all to myself) and sitting doing amongst other people, enjoying the same movie.


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