How hard is going to the Movies?

Organising things are difficult. As soon as you have one (or more) people in your party, trying to organise an event becomes infinitely more complicated. Take trying to organise a trip to the movies for example.

Despite cinema attendance coming to a steady decline in the past few decades, the current standards of sound and visual quality at the cinemas are more superior than ever. Right now, cinemas have never experienced “so much silence and order inside the theatres” (Albano 2013). My close group of friends and I usually go to the movies once a week, so I guess you can call us avid movie goers compared to the rest of the population. We’re all free on a Thursday morning, and this time is usually perfect to chill out to a movie when it isn’t too busy.

When planning an event, such as an outing to the movies, Torsten Hagerstrand identifies three classes of constraints regarding time geography (aaa). These are:

  • Capability
  • Coupling
  • Authority

 Capability refers to the “limitations on human movement due to physical or biological factors” (Corbett 2001). In this instance, the constraint defines whether a person is literally capable of attending.  In my group of friends, we all have cars to physically attend the cinemas. Furthermore, the cinemas we always attend are nearby. Therefore at this point we are all capable of attending the cinemas.

The second constraint, coupling, refers to whether “your space-time path must temporarily link up with those of certain other people to accomplish a particular task” (Corbett 2001). In our circumstance, only three out of the five were able to attend the movie. As such, the coupling constraint hindered two member of our group from attending at the time chosen.

Authority, the last constraint, determines whether an area is “controlled by certain people or institutions that set limits on its access to particular individuals or groups” (Corbett 2001). In terms of the movies, this isn’t usually an issue. Unless, of course, you have that one friend that attempts to smuggle half their kitchen pantry past the movie ushers. In our case, on a Thursday morning, we found no authority constraints when attending.

Our movie experience was fairly ordinary. We were assigned seats, yet due to the lack of people in our matinee session we sat where we felt comfortable. For me, this is in the dead centre of seating – the middle-most seat in the middle row. To me, this seating is most relaxing. As there were only a few people in our session, we also had to abide by the No. 1 (unspoken) rule of movie etiquette, which is where you must not sit within one seat of another person and, if there is space, not in front of other people.

PHOTO: Netflix - the future of film?

PHOTO: Netflix – the future of film?

Considering the extreme lack of people in our session, it made me question the future of cinema attendance. Roger Ebert in late 2011 identified 6 key points to why cinema attendance has dropped (Ebert 2011). The most obvious are that the prices of tickets and snacks have exponentially increased, which is obvious considering movie theatre popcorn is more expensive per ounce then filet mignon. However, one of the most defining points the late Roger Ebert made (which ultimately led to the demise of BlockBuster) is that with the emergence and rise of alternative services such as downloading (legal and illegal) and streaming (Netflix), can the authentic and tradition experience of attending a movie continue to survive?


Albano, L 2013, ‘Cinema and Psychoanalysis’, American Imago, vol. 70, no. 2, viewed 31 August, <;.

Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed on 30 August, <;.

Ebert, R 2011, ‘I’ll tell you why movie revenue is dropping’, Roger Ebert’s Journal, 28 December 2011, viewed 31 August, <;

Hagerstrand, T 1970, ‘What about people in regional spaces?’, Papers of the Regional Science Association, vol. 24, no. 1, p. 6 – 21

Watt, N 2008, ‘Why does Theatre Popcorn Cost so Much?’, ABC News, 25 July 2008, viewed 31 August, <;

Audio Visual Markets – Cinema Attendance 2014, Screen Australia, viewed 31 August, <;.



One thought on “How hard is going to the Movies?

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