A Failed Cinema Experience

When the idea of going to the cinema came about, I felt disappointed; the cinema experience just is not what it once was. I recall a time when going up to the shops to watch a movie was almost a weekly activity with friends, but with the rise of the Internet and watching films online for free, the idea of paying money to go and sit in a room with strangers that chew loud and talk; when you have better experience at home, seems like a waste.


Illegal downloading of films and the introduction of sites such as Netflix and Presto have been a game changer for the cinema industry. In 1974, the average cinema attendance per person per year was 10.5, and then to jump to 2014, has presented a decline with the average attendance being 6.8 per year. The decline was not steady from 1974 – 2014, the highest point of cinema attendance per year was recorded to be 1996 with 11.3 visits per year, but after that year the decline falls consistently.

To analyze the difference in cinema attendance, a description of Hagerstrand’s three constraints is in order.

Capability constraints – Physical constraints such as: eating, sleeping, and financials.

Coupling constraints – Schedule constraints such as: meetings, appointments, and commitments.

Authority constraints – Imposed limitations on where activities can take place, enforced by external parties.

I endured a recent venture to the cinema with my partmner to see the all hyped up Suicide Squad, and I regret to say that I was not fond of the experience. Limitations and restrictions were imposed throughout my cinema experience; to explain, an analysis of my recent cinema venture can be further engaged through Hagerstrand’s three constraints.

Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 9.34.23 AM.png

Capability constraints that we discovered, that over a two hour period, you get hungry. The constraints of capability and authority came into play when wed wanted lunch, but not the over priced snack food that the cinema offers. An authority constraint demonstrated by the cinema, was that outside food was prohibited. Again, this is an example of why online film and show audiences are inclining, with no restraints on hunger or food. Considering that I was wearing a poofy jacket, I was able to stash our sandwiches in my sleeves and enter the cinema undetected.

Coupling constraints were encountered when we had firstly planned to view the film Suicide Squad, the film was only ben shown at specified times. When travelling to the shopping centre for the first time, we had come at a time when the film was not being shown until a couple hours after. The limitations on scheduling impacted our cinema experience by not allowing an experience at all. This restriction furthermore adds to the power of watching films on the Internet. Watching films online offer no coupling restrictions besides the individual watching.

Authority constraints were employed by the cinema in what I thought to be a ridiculous way. When entering the cinema, we were directed to our specifically assigned seats (limitations for seating placement), but when looking down our row of seats, a gentleman had taken one of our seats by mistake. To avoid conflict, we considered it harmless to just sit on some other vacant seats a few chairs over. After a couple of minutes passed, a mother and daughter entered the cinema and were directed to their seats, as it turns out, we were sitting in them. The mother went to speak to the usher about their seating misplacement; what I found very interesting was that instead of inquiring about the seats with us directly (so we could explain that someone had in turn taken our seats), the usher had to call a third party employee into the cinema to take to us. This begged the question, since when was it so hard to ask someone to move over a seat, was this line of questioning so important that it called for further assistance from a more authoritarian employee?

The combination of Hagerstrand’s three constraints were enforced whilst engaging with the cinema experience, in contrast to the online film and show experience which enforces close to no limitations or restraints, this analysis gives details to the decline in cinema audiences. The cinema experience of my childhood was even still, ever so different to that of today; prices were lower, seating wasn’t specific and strict, and people were happier to approach you about moving a seat down.



Corbett, 2001, ‘Torsten Hӓgerstrand, Time Geography’ CSISS Classics, Avalable From: < https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/690394/mod_resource/content/2/Hagerstrands%20time%20geography%20%28Corbett%29.pdf > [Viewed 19th September 2016]



< https://givernywitheridge.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/hagerstrand-not-the-irrational-man-an-analysis-of-why-tumbleweeds-have-replaced-jaffas-rolling-down-cinema-aisles/ > [Viewed 19th September 2016]


Maltingsberwick, 2009, The Main House Theatre, The Maltings Theatre & Arts Centre, Available From: < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Maltings_Theatre_%26_Cinema#/media/File:The_Main_House_Theatre,_The_Maltings_Theatre_%26_Arts_Centre,_Berwick-upon-Tweed,_March_2009.jpg > [Viewed 19th September 2016]



  1. ellenimacmillan · September 28, 2016

    I chose to read your blog post, as I am focusing my major project to be about the cinema experience. My personal experience was positive, so it is interesting to read someone’s post with an opposing perspective.

    My cinema experience was positive, and always is – I much prefer the atmosphere of a theatre much more than sitting in bed watching Netflix. However I do agree with the limitations you have mentioned – including the ridiculous price range of the snack bar.

    Your ability to link these examples with theory is already done well, and your inclusion of statistics at the beginning of your post were eye-opening, and therefore kept me intrigued!


  2. Pingback: What do Hagerstrand and Finding Dory have in common? | Wanderlust.

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