A Night at the Flicks

Last night I hit the cinema with my best friend/boyfriend. We booked our tickets online, so were able to walk in, grab our tickets, and then walk straight into the cinema: no lines, no problems.

There were only a few complications that arose in the planning of our night out. We passed the capability element of Hagerstrand’s list of human constraints with flying colours; my boyfriend would drive us there and back. Unfortunately, the coupling element had challenged us a little. Could we get there at the right time? It’s not we were fussy with times, more that we lacked spare time, and when we did have free time to go to the movies, I found it difficult to find an appropriately timed screening of the movie we wanted to see. However, we simply skipped every time that didn’t work for us until we came across one that did. Hagerstrand’s authority element seemed irrelevant to me, of course I was allowed to be there! There was nothing inherently holding me back from attending the movie. I was old enough, and that is all I could think of. However, I did later think perhaps there was an authority issue in my parent’s preference of me being home before midnight. Fortunately, most movie screenings that we considered ended before this time anyway, so this came as no obstacle to our planning.

As normal, my boyfriend and I headed straight for the back. We are both quite tall, and hate getting sore necks from having to tilt our heads to see the screen; although I think the main reason for me automatically seating myself near the back is that I have more freedom to talk. I’m the kind of person who does talk during films; not about irrelevant topics or out of boredom, but I like to keep a running commentary of the movie going with whoever I am seeing the film with. I understand that it is often annoying, but I think it’s exciting, and somewhat beneficial to share opinions and thoughts on different scenes, songs or elements. By the time the movie ends, and it’s ‘socially accepted’ for me to talk out loud, I’ve forgotten all the things I would’ve liked to mention during the movie. For this reason, the back seat is my best bet for not getting evil glares mid-movie.

The seats were comfortable enough, and because I had no one sitting in front of me I was able to prop my feet up on the seat in front of me. The temperature is always a little chilly in the cinema, but I went prepared and used my jacket as a blanket, keeping a consistent and comfortable temperature.

It certainly feels as though cinema attendance is fading. I remember as a kid we’d have to arrive early because there was always a queue at the ticket booth, and the actual theatre. You’d almost always find yourself sitting next to a stranger, and upon the film’s ending, you’d wait until the cinema had emptied so you didn’t get caught up in civilian traffic towards the exit doors.

Now the theatre is so empty that you seldom have to sit next to a stranger, and on the rare occasion that you might have to, people suddenly become very awkward. Most of my friends make very obvious attempts to sit in the middle of our group so they don’t have that ‘awkward encounter’ of sitting next to someone they don’t know. Thinking about it now, it seems so ridiculous. Gone are the days where you could start a conversation with a fellow moviegoer just for friendliness’ sake without looking like a complete lunatic.

If things keep evolving as they are (which they inevitably will), the life of the cinema will slowly die. I can’t say I think they’ll close altogether in the next 5-10 years, because there will always be something that the cinema can offer that nothing else can. Whether it is technological advancements, or social superiority, a visit to the movies will remain an enjoyed event because it brings people together (even in a world where people are absorbed in their phones and social media platforms). Avatar and Terminator director, James Cameron recognises that people value the entire cinema experience: ‘I think there will be movie theatres in 1,000 years. People want the group experience, the sense of going out and participating in a film together. People have been predicting the demise of movie theatres since I started in the business.’

Adam Leipzig, former senior Vice President at Walt Disney Studies, and current CEO of Entertainment Media Partners, also predicts that while the future of the cinema will certainly be different, it will not die. He outlines that the movies that people will go to see at the cinema will be dependant on their content. While documentaries will flourish with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, some films, such as comedies, deserve a more developed social setting. ‘I think there will always be a demand for getting out of your house and experiencing things with other people, in a communal setting – we’re communal creatures, we’re social creatures, we love to get out and experience things with our fellow citizens.”

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