Why Australia should Co-Produce Films with China: Transcript

The following is the transcript to a You Tube screen cast that will be released shortly.

Hi, my name is James, and today I will be convincing you why the Australian screen industry should co-produce with China.

What Australian films have you seen recently? Was it Sen’s ‘Mystery Road’? Which was received very positively by critics, but experienced a very restricted release. Or perhaps it was the critically acclaimed ‘Animal Kingdom’ by David Michod, which failed dismally at the box office? Maybe it was the 2008 Baz Luhrmann film/tourism advertisement, Australia.  Perhaps it has been that long since you have since an Australian film, that the last one you saw was Crocodile Dundee – which was actually intended for American audiences.

The future of the Australian screen industry has repeatedly been speculated by the media.  With article titles such as Canberra Times’ ‘Delving into the decline of Australian Films’ (Low 2012) or Crikey’s ‘Australian Cinema is still big, it is the audience that got small’ (Buckmaster 2014). It might lead us to believe that Australians are not as interested in Australian film as, say, 10 years ago; or even that the whole Australian Film Industry is dying. But as Jake Wilson of Senses in Cinema states, “Journalism about the Australian film industry goes in cycles” (2003) where in one part of the year they applaud our Oscar winners, and in the other half “predicting the death of the local industry” (Wilson 2003). As a matter of fact, Film Victoria published a study showing more Australian films are released now at the box office since the golden age of the late 1980s, however, their performance has historically peaked and declined spontaneously (Film Vic 2009).

So what is a good way to fix this? Oddly enough, there is an audience for Australian film outside our domestic boundaries. And no, it is not in America. Reg Diplock of Film Ink magazine makes several arguments to consider a market in Asia (2014).

  1. Asia is an increasing segment of the Australian population
  2. Asia is our closest neighbour
  3. contains a ‘burgeoning’ film and TV industry
  4. size of the Asian market
  5. Co-production treaties with Singapore and China.

These points were also reinforced by  Screen Australia in their response to ‘Australia in the Asian Century Issues Paper’ (2012). The 2012 paper identifies that the Australian screen industry is “well positioned to take advantage of economic growth in the Asian region, particularly China…” (2012). Furthermore, the paper recognises that many Asian nations have a rapidly increasing middle or let’s just say consumer class. EY in their ‘Spotlight on China’ industry report notes that with a growing consumer class, also comes a growing disposable income, particularly towards the media and entertainment industry (2012). For instance, in 2010 spending on the media and entertainment industry was at US$350 billion, by 2011 this rose to US$547 billion (EY 2012).

A very recent film that undoubtedly performed well in China was of course, Transformers: Age of Extinction. Not only did Transformer’s earn more in China then is it did domestically in the United States, but it is also the highest grossing film in China’s history so far. Paramount pictures worked with CCTV’s China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises (Shackleton 2013) to release the film to approximately 12,000 screens in China (Yecies 2014). The film also included several Chinese actors and locations, such as Hong Kong.

This kind of practice is actually becoming common for Hollywood. Some of 2014’s blockbusters such as The Amazing Spiderman 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla all feature China is some form (Homewood 2014). This can range from Chinese actors, locations, production teams, inserting localised scenes or localised content.

As Chris Homewood states, a recent incorporation of Chinese elements within popular American film is not only an attempt to pull in larger Chinese audiences, but also to “garner favour with China Film Group (CFG), the state monopoly that runs cinemas, produces, finances and distributes films, and controls the import of foreign titles”(2014).

That last point is very important, as China only allows 34 foreign films to screen throughout the country annually. And considering films such as Transformers 4 earn more in China than anywhere else, that makes those spots very valuable. However, films made in co-production don’t count towards this quota. In fact, Transformers 4’s extensive use of including localised content qualifies for ‘unofficial co-production’, which allows for greater creative freedom, whilst also “circumventing the ‘official co-production’ processes” (Yecies 2014).

But how can Australia take advantage of the booming media and entertainment industry in China? In fact, we already have. The Australian-Singaporean film, Bait, is a recent example that proved to be very successful in Asia. I guarantee that most Australians haven’t even heard of this film, let alone seen it. Nevertheless, Bait is the most successful Australian film ever released in China to date, having earned over AU$20 million within the first 2 weeks of its release (Soundfirm 2012). Bait, was exhibited in over 28 countries total, where in China the Chinese distributors, “Yunnan Film Group and Enlight Media, produced a special localised version for the Chinese market” (Yecies et al. 2014).

Which, by the way, isn’t the first case a film has been localised for the Chinese Market. In 2013, Iron Man 3 included an extra 4 minutes of footage which featured notable Chinese actors Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing, as well as some Yili Milk for product placement (Yecies 2014).

To gather a deep understanding of how major films are using localisation to appeal to international audiences, I decided to show the Chinese Transformers: Age of Extinction trailer to both Australian and Chinese students. As assumed, none of the Australian students recognised any of the non-Western actors, whereas the Chinese students most certainly did. Furthermore, the Australian students could not identify the locations used within the trailer, which the Chinese students recognised as Kowloon, Hong Kong. I then asked the Australian students if they could recognise any Chinese elements. Most noticed the random calligraphy and the oriental imagery.

So the Australian film industry needs to decide whether we continue to, and to a greater extent, co-produce with China. We are already seeing the overt influence Chinese soft power is having on the media, particularly in Hollywood. And it is up to Australia to take advantage of this overwhelming market or sit in this historical limbo of ups and downs.


‘Bait 3D Highest Grossing Australian Film To Date In China’ 2012, Sound Firm, 26 October, viewed 25 October 2014, < http://www.soundfirm.com/industry/bait-3d-highest-grossing-australian-film-to-date-in-china/&gt;.

Buckmaster, L 2014, ‘ Australian cinema is still big, it’s the audience that got small‘, Crikey, 2 September, viewed 24 October 2014, < http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/australian-cinema-is-still-big-its-the-audience-that-got-small/11426&gt;.

Diplock, R 2014, ‘What’s Wrong with the Australian Film Industry?!’, Film Ink, 14 July, viewed 27 October 2014, < http://www.filmink.com.au/news/whats-wrong-with-the-australian-film-industry/&gt;.

‘Emerging markets middle class: the new consumer / APEC 2012 / Ernst & Young’ 2012, video, ksanlab, 4 October, viewed 1 November 2014, < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UibduT_SXkI&gt;.

Ernst & Young, Spotlight on China: Building a roadmap for success in media and entertainment, http://www.ey.com, 2012, <http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/Media_and_Entertainment_-_Spotlight_on_China/$FILE/Spotlight_on_China.pdf&gt;, viewed 27  October 2014.

Film Victoria 2009, ‘Australian Films at the Australian Box Office’, Film Victoria, viewed 28 October 2014, <http://www.film.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/967/AA4_Aust_Box_office_report.pdf&gt;.

Homewood, C 2014, ‘ Transformers 4: China is using Hollywood to take on the world’, The Conversation, 4 July, viewed 30 October 2014, < http://theconversation.com/transformers-4-china-is-using-hollywood-to-take-on-the-world-28817&gt;.

Low, C 2012, ‘Delving into decline of Australian films’, Canberra Times, 24 January, viewed 31 October 2014, < http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/delving-into-decline-of-australian-films-20120124-1t6jf.html&gt;.

Screen Australia 2012, ‘Response To Australia In The Asian Century Issues Paper’, Screen Australia, viewed 20 October 2014, < http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/d96483a2-9104-419b-b062-7aeb21db9133/AsianCenturyWhitePaper_2012.pdf&gt;.

Shackleton, L 2013, ‘Paramount Partners with China on Transformers 4’, Screen Daily, 3 April, viewed 30 October 2014, < http://www.screendaily.com/paramount-partners-with-china-on-transformers-4/5053525.article&gt;.

Wilson, J 2003, ‘ Unpopular Populism, or The Decline and Fall of the Little Aussie Battler: Notes on Australian Film Comedy in 2003’, Senses of Cinema, no. 29, < http://sensesofcinema.com/2003/australian-contemporary-cinema/australian_comedy/&gt;.

Yecies, B 2014, ‘Product Placement and that Sucking-Up Feeling in China’, Asian Creative Transformations, 25 September, viewed 17 October 2014, < http://www.creativetransformations.asia/2014/09/product-placement-and-that-sucking-up-feeling-in-china/&gt;.

Yecies, B, Yang, J, Berryman, M & Soh, K 2014, ‘Marketing Bait (2012): Using SMART Data to Identify E-guanxi Among China’s ‘Internet Aborigines’’ in M Nolwenn, C Tirtaine & J Augros, Film Marketing in a Global Era, London: British Film Institute Publishing.


Media, Audience and Place: A Reflection

The second year of my BCMS degree also commemorates my second year of public blogging. As I stated in my introduction blog post for Media, Audience and Place, I don’t regularly update my activity on social media. However,  I believe this subject was an excellent catalyst in not only developing my writing style, but also emphasising the importance of curating and aggregating. by considering all these elements, by writing has become far more personalised and conceptual. Throughout my public writing for this subject, I have come to appreciate the complex relationship between media, audience and place.

One of my favourite posts was in week five regarding ‘Cinemas – Strangers in public’. In this post I explored the current and changing attitudes towards cinema attendance in Australia. What I liked about this topic was how the cinema is contentiously blurred between what is considered public and private space. In this post I undertook a visit to the cinema, but decided to notice some of the unwritten social rules regarding this activity. One thing I noticed that week, and have continued to notice is that in an uncrowded theatre, most patrons don’t like to sit next to each other. As stated in my blog, ‘How hard is going to the movies?’, my friends and I would rather not sit directly next to or in front of someone if possible. Although I never addressed this in the blog, I would now consider this an extension to the authority constraint, in regards to Hagerstrand’s three classes of constraints (1970). Despite that this isn’t at all enforced by “certain people or institutions” (Corbett 2001), I would consider this a social guideline that, at least in Australian culture, is self-imposed.

Another significant post was in week 8. My post, ‘Being denied to a club is one thing, but a movie?’, explored the legal and ethical regulations in regards to films and audience. I thought that this post was effective as I began with a personal anecdote where I was denied entry to a film as I couldn’t prove my age. I than went into explicit detail about the law surrounding movie classifications in Australia, and how this differentiates in the US. What I liked most about this post is how the relationship between media, audience and place can be restricted by law or ethics. In several of my posts, I have included a short anecdote as Clark states, they “can make people laugh” and “immediately establish the main point of your post” (2006). Furthermore, I believe this post is a great example of using a variety of relevant hyperlinks. Throughout this post (and most others), I hyperlink all sources that are accessible to the general public. Therefore, throughout this post, whenever I refer to an news article, or government publication, I not only reference that evidence, but also provide a means of easy navigation for my readers.

Another key element I have included in the layout of my blogs is incorporating images, videos or graphs to break up large pieces of writing. Both as a blogger and a reader of blogs, I think this is necessary in communicating an argument or idea. For example, in my post ‘Australian Cinema of World Cinema?’, when referring to the film ‘Bait 3D’ I included the YouTube video to the official trailer. Furthermore, when I refer to the Australian film ‘Animal Kingdom’, I included the original poster image of the film adjacent to the writing. I believe these elements are a very effective and simple method to attracting the attention of the reader. As Bullas states, ‘articles with images get 94% more total views’ (2012). As such, I usually included some form of visual content that was relevant to the arguments I made regarding media, audience and place.

Following some feedback from several peers and my tutor, I realised my blog was in dire need of renovations. Conceptually, I perceive blogs as a direct channel to the audience. My blog is a personalised, yet academic source for my readers. As such, I wanted my blog to have a sleek and aesthetic design that assisted my ideas. As outlined by Clarke (2014), I determined to simplify my blog and add a few personal touches. I decided to change my blog design from the default 2013 model, to the ‘Hemmingway Rewritten’ theme. This theme created a more cleaner layout, with a greater amount of white space and a flowing transition from one blog to the next. I also discovered the importance of navigation, as Clarke states, “website navigation should feel intuitive to your visitor” (2014). This was achieved by categorising my blog posts, as well as adding a menu to the top for simpler routing.

In addition to studying Communication & Media Studies, I am also a Mandarin major and prior to undertaking this subject, I had just travelled to Shanghai and Beijing. Having enjoyed this experience, I wanted to share this with my audience. One of the great features of the ‘Hemingway Rewritten’ theme was that the header allowed for multiple large images. Although only one image would be presented at a time, this image would change as the visitor navigated between posts. I believe this provided a visually refreshing experience for the reader.

Media, Audience and Place also taught me the importance of aggregation. In previous subjects I would simply post my blog into the blogosphere and revel in the 3-5 views it may secure each week. However, BCM240 required me to not only post my blog, but also tweet the link. At first I was a little anxious. It is one thing to write in public, but to post and support my writing on social media was, at first, a difficult goal to tackle. It required me to re-evaluate what ideas, links and supporting media would best support my argument – particularly if it was to be criticised publicly. In addition to tweeting a link to my blog, I also discovered the assistance of tagging my posts. With every post, I would often include multiple relating tags to further seek interested readers. As I am new to twitter, I made the mistake of using ‘@BCM240’, rather than ‘#BCM240’. This mistake may have hindered my viewership, but regardless I still was able to aggregate a much larger regular readership by supporting tags to my posts.

I most definitely feel that public writing is a very efficient tool in exploring and presenting ideas and arguments. Throughout this semester, I believe that my skills in public writing, as well as my understanding of media, audience and place have matured.


Bullas, J 2012, ‘6 Powerful Reasons Why you Should include Images in your Marketing – Infographic’, Jeff Bullas, 28 May, viewed 28 September 2014, < http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/28/6-powerful-reasons-why-you-should-include-images-in-your-marketing-infographic/&gt;.

Clark, B 2006, ‘5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang’, Copyblogger, 19 September, viewed 29 September 2014, < http://www.copyblogger.com/5-simple-ways-to-open-your-blog-post-with-a-bang/&gt;.

Clarke, A 2014, ‘8 Blog design tips to make sure people stop to read your content’, Jeff Bullas, 28 April, viewed 28 September 2014, < http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/04/28/8-blog-design-tips-to-make-sure-people-stop-to-read-your-content/&gt;.

Australian Cinema or World Cinema?

If I were to imagine what section your typical Australian film, a film shot in Australia, with Australian actors, that explores and projects Australian issues and values, would be shelved in a JB HIFI in Australia; it would probably be sitting under the World Cinema genre.

Unfortunately your typical Australian films simply do not interest domestic audiences, as Luke Buckmaster states, “Australian cinema is still big, it’s the audience that got small” (Buckmaster 2014).

Consider the film Bait 3D (2012).

The stereotypical marine slasher film was filmed on location in Coolangatta, Queensland. However, it was actually filmed in co-production with Singapore. As Khoo states, the film was able to secure greater financing and distribution by co-producing in Singapore, and as such, created a vaster distribution network amongst Asia (2014). Khoo also claims that the film, although distinctively Australian, was re-edited for Chinese audiences by introducing Chinese characters (2014, p. 8). As a result, the film that was not well received in Australia, but became a huge hit in Asia.

[POSTER]: Animal Kingdom, 2010.

[POSTER]: Animal Kingdom, 2010.

Although, not all Australian films are of poor quality, such as the 2010 film Animal Kingdom, directed by David Michod and starring Australian A-stars Jackie Weaver, Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce . The film was received very well, garnering  several major award wins plus a Oscar nomination for Weaver. The film, despite it’s critical success wasn’t a hit at the box office, having only grossed under $7 million (Box Office Mojo 2014). However, it isn’t an issue with Australian cinema attendance. In 2010 Australian cinema attendance grossed $1.13 billion (ABS 2011) . Of this massive sum, I would like to know how much Australian film alone grossed.

So how can we attract domestic audiences to quality Australian cinema? With transnational partnerships becoming more prominent in Asia, such as those with Singapore, it is essential for domestic Australian cinema to strive. If I were to propose a potential qualitative research strategy to secure more funding and greater distribution within Australia, I believe it would be worthwhile to determine what makes an Australian film a success. A content analysis should be undertaken to determine what qualities result in reasonable success domestically. This could be narrowed down to certain actors or filmmakers, perhaps certain genres, or even certain locations. This data could establish  a variety of reasons why a film may not perform so well. For example, perhaps films shot and centred around regional Australia do not resonate with the metropolitan populous.

This could be achieved by studying not only cinema attendance, but perhaps also renting habits, amateur reviews and comments made in online blogging or forums, as well as purchases of films both online and in brick and mortar stores. I believe this approach could establish what makes a critical success, and this information could positively assist Australian filmmakers to connect with Australian audiences.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011, Perspectives on Culture, cat. no. 4172.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra

Box Office Mojo 2014, ‘Animal Kingdom’, Box Office Mojo, viewed 28 September 2014, <http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=animalkingdom.htm&gt;.

Buckmaster, L 2014, ‘Australian Cinema is still big, it the audience that got small’, Crickey, 2 September, viewed 29 September 2014, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/australian-cinema-is-still-big-its-the-audience-that-got-small/11426&gt;.

Khoo, O 2014, ‘Bait 3D and the Singapore – Australia co-production agreement: from content to creativity through stereoscopic technology’, Transnational Cinemas, vol. 5, no. 1, p.1 – 13.

Being denied entry to a club is one thing, but a movie?

Early last year a few friends and myself decided to go see the new Tarantino film ‘Django Unchained’.

In Australia the film received a MA15+ rating for ‘Strong bloody violence and Themes’. At the time I was 17 and a Tarantino fanatic. I had conquered nearly all of his filmography by the age of 15, so I am a fairly seasoned Tarantino connoisseur. It is difficult to describe in words my level of excitement and anticipation to see this film. I even put off pirating the film’s screener that was leaked online, just so I could see it on the big screen.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my license at this point, and therefore didn’t have a proof of age. So after all my anticipation and excitement, when I arrived at the box office to grab my ticket, I was denied entry by the ticketseller (who would have been around the same age as myself, if not younger) as I couldn’t prove I was over 15 years old.

Prior to this event, I never realised that the movie classifications were legally restricted. In Australia, films are classified by the Australian Classification Board (Australian Classification 2014). This board is empowered by law to uphold the classification ratings under the The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Classification Tools and Other Measures) Act 2014. As such, films with a MA15+ and R18+ rating in Australia are legally restricted classification, of which cinemas must legally enforce.

However, in America this isn’t necessarily the case. Where in Australia the classification rating is bound in law, in America the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is voluntary and therefore, “No studio, distributor, theater, or video store is bound by any legislation to follow the ratings applied by the MPAA ratings board.” (Parent Preview 2014).

So what does this mean in terms of space? As previously discussed here, this aspect clearly identifies with Hagerstrand’s constraint of authority (Corbett 2011). In Australia, it is arguable that cinema’s do have a duty of care to uphold minimum standards – particularly since cinemas are considered a public space. And this standard is legally bound. However, this may not necessarily be the case in America. Parents in America sued a theatre claiming they had a ‘duty of care to the public when it adopted the Motion Picture Association of America’s voluntary film-rating system.’ (Gershman 2013) This complaint, however, was dismissed.


Australian Classifications 2014, Understanding Classifications (Cinemas), viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.classification.gov.au/Industry/Documents/Understanding%20Classifications%20Cinema.pdf&gt;

Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed on 30 August, <http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29&gt>

Gershman, J 2013, ‘Do Theatres Have to Enforce Movie Ratings’, Wall Street Journal, 25 October, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2013/10/25/do-theaters-have-to-enforce-movie-ratings/&gt;

American Movie Ratings 2014, Parents Preview, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://parentpreviews.com/movie-ratings/usa&gt;.

When’s a good time to multitask?

Multitasking is tricky. I work in a busy kitchen and bar and if you are only doing one thing at a time, you aren’t doing your job properly. It has just become regular activity to pour a beer and talk to a customer at the same time. But multitasking isn’t something I only do at work, or when I want things to get done quickly. In fact I am multitasking right now.

So what is media multitasking? Vega defines media multitasking as ‘engaging in multiple media activities simultaneously, including multiple windows on a single media platform and/or multiple media.’ (2009, pp. 3).  So, it would be considered media multitasking if whilst writing this blog, I am also jumping through multiple tabs such as various research journals, but also facebook, youtube, reddit all while listening to Kanye West’s Yeezus album.


[SCREENSHOT]: Media Multitasking

But how effective is media multitasking? In a study conducted by Lee et al. they found that when it comes to media multitasking and learning, it “generates extraneous cognitive load that burdens the working memory” (2012, pp. 102). Therefore, media multitasking could in fact have the complete reverse effect we think it may have. When learning, rather than achieving multiple goals at a single time, media multitasking is overloading our cognitive load thus inhibiting our memory.

If that is the case, why do we still multitask? Similarly Wang and Tchernev found that multitasking resulted in a reduced cognitive response (2012). However, Wang and Tchernev also concluded that when people are faced with a frenzied workload, multitasking appears as the only option, as Wang and Tchernev state,  “cognitive needs are not satisfied by media multitasking even though they drive media multitasking in the first place” (2012, pp. 493).

So when it comes to sitting in class or a lecture, I guess it is time to close all those social media and online shopping tabs down and just listen for once.


Lee, J, Lin, L & Robertson, T 2012, ‘ The impact of media multitasking on learning, Learning, Media and Technology’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 37, no. 1, p. 94 – 104.

Wang, Z & Tchernev, J 2012, ‘The ‘‘Myth’’ of Media Multitasking: Reciprocal Dynamics of Media Multitasking, Personal Needs, and Gratifications’, Journal of Communication, vol. 62, p. 493 – 513.

Vega, V 2009, ‘Seminar on the impacts of media multitasking on children’s learning & development’, Report from a research seminar, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University.

Public and Private Spaces Redefined

Mobile phones and, in particular, snapshots have redefined our perceptions of public and private spaces. As Lee states, the public and private boundaries have become blurred as users that are taking private photos in public locations are then uploading them publicly online (Lee 2009). This practice is essentially unprecedented, as the laws and ethics of public photography have become indistinct.

Contrary to what might be popularly believed, public photography (such as street photography) in New South Wales is in fact legal. As Nemeth addresses, in 2001 a high court reaffirmed that forms of what is considered ‘unauthorised’ photography are legal (2014). Furthermore, Justice Dowd in 2001 states that “A person, in our society, does not have a right not to be photographed” (Nemeth 2014).

Although the laws might say that photographing in public is legal, how ethical is this practice? This week we were tasked to take photographs of strangers in a public space. These photos, under law, are legal to be taken. However, we would have to ask permission before publishing them to the internet. In our class of about a dozen people, almost all of us found this strangely uncomfortable.

Therefore, not only have the boundaries between what is considered public and what been considered private become blurred; so have the laws and ethics regarding mobile phone photography. The ALRC has noted that there is a unprecedented level of concern regarding unauthorised photographs which has “exploded with the ease and accessibility of online publication” (2014).

But are mobile phone photography the only issue causing this blurred boundary of the public and private space? In a post 9/11 world, issues regarding public security has seen CCTV and is prominence in public spaces rise exponentially. Especially in the UK, where the average person is monitored over 300 times in a single day (Bowman 2013). Both are essentially an invasion of privacy. Considering this, the Hungry Beast a few years ago released a video regarding a new form of filmmaking known as video sniffing.


Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) 2008, Particular Privacy Issues Affecting Children and Young People, Australian Law Reform Commission.

Bowman, R 2013, ‘Top 10 Interesting Facts About CCTV Cameras’, Newhams Security, viewed 7 September, <http://www.newhamssecurity.com.au/blog/top-10-interesting-facts-about-cctv-cameras-newhams-security-blog&gt;.

Lee, DH 2009, ‘Mobile Snapshots and Private/Public Boundaries’, Knowledge, Technology, & Policy, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 161 – 171.

Nemeth, A 2014, ‘NSW Photo Rights’, 4020, viewed 6 September 2014, <http://4020.net/words/photorights.php&gt;.

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, <http://muse.jhu.edu.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/journals/american_imago/v070/70.2.albano.html&gt;.

Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science, viewed on 30 August, <http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29&gt;.

Ebert, R 2011, ‘I’ll tell you why movie revenue is dropping’, Roger Ebert’s Journal, 28 December 2011, viewed 31 August, <http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/ill-tell-you-why-movie-revenue-is-dropping&gt;

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, <http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/theater-popcorn-cost/story?id=5379179&gt;

Audio Visual Markets – Cinema Attendance 2014, Screen Australia, viewed 31 August, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx&gt;.