A successful trip to the cinema is hard to define. What makes it different to a regular trip to the cinema? What is considered unsuccessful? This being my line of intrigue, I decided to think back to my last visit to the cinema.
Star Trek Beyond was the last film I’ve seen in a cinema. Cheap Tuesday tickets. Greater Union. Popcorn. And 2 housemates. Before I went any further, I sat down with the 2 housemates to get their thoughts about what defines a successful trip to the cinema.
So we started brainstorming. The first thing we thought of was anticipation. This is after all the third Star Trek film. Both myself and L had seen the first and second films and liked them both. We were going to the cinema with prior knowledge. Knowledge of the characters and their relationships but also the standard of J.J. Abrams previous Star Trek movies and the quality we were accustomed too.
On this point L and I agreed that Beyond was definitely the weakest of the trilogy, while C who hasn’t seen these movies before said he enjoyed the movie regardless. By our own definition, a ‘Fun’ movies is one you simply enjoy because of it’s intrinsic value.
But what is the value of a cinema trip? Well it boils down to a roughly 12 dollar ticket a popcorn and a drink. The movie you watch there after is simply watching the return on your hour and forty minute investment. By that metric we all agreed that the movie, food and outing as a whole was worth the money we spent.
Moreover, I realise that not all ticket prices are 12 dollars. I know I spent more money on VMAX seats to see Star Wars Episode VII on release day (I paid 12 at the midnight screening at my local cinema, and again when I took my dad two days after) Some movies are worth more but does that change the value of the film?
For me the value comes from the people you go to the cinema with. Each visit to see the new Star Wars was with different company, and it vastly changed the way I remember the movie and how I enjoyed it at the time.
Regarding our etiquette, we reflected deeply on this for some time. Did we talk multiple times during the film? Doubtless. (Even if it was related to the film) Did we eat loudly and slurp our drinks? Yes. Although he wouldn’t admit it, I am sure C removed his shoes which Mark Kermode forbids explicitly in his code of conduct for cinema visits.
Despite the actual film, which is not always guaranteed to entertain you, going to the movies can be an ordeal in itself. Parking is almost always a nightmare, specially if timed ticket car parks have anything to do with it. Busy nights means waiting for cold popcorn and it really is too expensive. (I can agree with the dads and mums on that one) The pre movie ads go for at least 10 minutes in bigger cinemas and before bigger movies. Personally I have taken a stand not to watch any movie trailers anymore, simply because I want a clean slate on which to make my judgments. But I always end up seeing them at the cinema before the movie.
So why go to the movies? Why leave your home to park your car to then walk and wait in line to watch it on a bigger screen, when you could just wait for it on DVD or steal it from the internet when someone has already been to see it and film it himself?
Torsten Hägerstrand in the 1960 came up with a conceptual model to track an individual movement in time-space geography. This involved 3 constraints on the individual.
Capability is the individuals ability to move in space based on physical or biological factors. Speed, needing to sleep, A person cannot be in 2 places at once nor travel instantaneously to another.
Coupling is the time constraints that come from interactions with other people. Meetings take time usually to organize and coordinate with other people. Thus some temporal paths require coupling with others to complete.
Authority is an external control on time and space and the activities that occur. When things can and can’t take place. Where something can and can’t take place.
If I was to consider a trip to the cinema based on Hägerstrand’s concepts then would I still consider the trip successful? To see a movie I have to take the time out of my day. Not just for the duration of the film but the trip to and from my home as well. Naturally I have means of transportation which means, yes I am physically capable of going getting to and from the cinema. The authority decides when films play and how much the tickets cost. These are external factors that have to be considered by me and the people I want to take to the movies. This company is coupled in the venture to the movies. It becomes a group activity that needs to be coordinated. Who’s driving? Who’s paying? What time are we going to see it? 3D or nah? It gives me headaches and most movies don’t make great use of it so I’d much rather see a 2D version of the same film if it’s all the same?
Personally, I have enjoyed the worst movies in good company. It’s the people you go to the cinema with that make or break the enjoyment. Some people aren’t good at watching movies with. Some people are too good and make sarcastic banter at shit movies and disturb the whole cinema. Any time spent with friends watching a good movie is a successful trip to the cinema.
Corbett, J, 2001. Torsten Hӓgerstrand, Time Geography. CSISS Classics. CSISS Classics,p 1-4.
Chris Hewitt. 2016. Star Trek Beyond Review | Movie – Empire. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/star-trek-beyond/review/. [Accessed 23 August 2016].
Digital Spy. 2016. The Wittertainment Cinema Code of Conduct!. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/news/a288795/the-wittertainment-cinema-code-of-conduct/. [Accessed 23 August 2016].