My mid-year trip through Europe had prevented a visit to the cinema for a couple of months, so when Sarah invited me along to watch DC’s Suicide Squad there wasn’t a whole lot of contemplation. The hype of the newest superhero movie, along with the promise of popcorn had me eager to reach Wednesday that week.
On my way to Greater Union, Shellharbour Sarah phoned to say she’d just arrived and suggested it might be a good idea for her to jump in line rather than wait for me out front, our usual cinema meeting place.
“Long line?” I questioned.
“You can’t imagine,” she laughed.
I really couldn’t.
As frequent visitors of this particular cinema, the past two years had never seen me line up longer than five minutes – but this particular night wasn’t providing the same luxuries.
When I joined her in line I suggested if we were to purchase tickets online and join the express queue we’d be much better off, while she agreed, she checked her phone and the previews were going to start any second. Even if we were to get tickets for this (6:45pm) viewing we’d most likely be straining our necks to get a good view.
I had the perfect suggestion, “drinks at the pub across the road while we wait for the 9pm showing?”
Sarah loved my idea, but as we made our way closer to the front we realised that if we were to purchase tickets now – two hours before the session we’d be guaranteed good seats. She was right, we had back seats locked in and plenty of time to enjoy a drink before the movie was to begin (once we reached the cashier, fifteen minutes later).
Torsten Hagerstand, a Swedish geographer identifies three types of constraints that limit individuals in their daily activities. Said constraints can also help us gain an understanding of the implications contributing to declining cinema attendance.
- The first constraint is capability, that addresses limits on human movement due to physical or biological factors (such as sleeping, eating, access to mobility tools and the availability of temporal or financial resources) for conducing activities and making trips (Hagerstrand 1970, Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38).
Sarah and I agreed to both each dinner at home before meeting, to save a bit of cash. This plan however worked against us, in the fact we were both later than expected, due to the time it took to cook and eat. We were not capable of feeding ourselves and making it to our session.
- The second constraint is coupling, that looks at the restrictions on the autonomous allocation of time, due to the need to coordinate with institutional logistics or interactions with other individuals (Hagerstrand 1970, Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38).
A number of factors throughout the day, such as our work and University schedules affected Sarah and myself. When we agreed to meet for the 6:45pm session (the session time assigned by a third party) we both assumed we could make it there on time. Combined with the capability constraint of fitting in dinner, the coupling constraint of limited session times played a large part in our night. The next session wasn’t until 9pm and so we had to both agree this would work for us to be able to watch the film at all that night.
- The third constraint is authority, which is the limitation on when activities can or cannot take place, or where they must or must not be located, imposed by external parties. For example, mandatory closing hours is a potential constraint on individual behaviour (Hagerstrand 1970, Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38).
In terms of authority constraints, our activity could only be partaken in at particular times, however once we had purchased our tickets and had a time locked in we were fortunate enough not to deal with any other constraints of this kind. Being a Wednesday night all services, such as the pub across the road and the candy bar when we returned were open for service, and we received free car parking behind the cinema.
This experienced helped me realise that there are actually quite a few factors that play a part in our experience with the cinema, if someone cannot make any of the available session times they obviously would not be able to attend, and if session times are limited and the cinema is full for your first preference you might not be able to choose an alternative. It makes sense why so many are subscribing to alternative viewing platforms and the taboo illegal downloading… there are few constraints to watching a movie in the comfort of your own home. Where do you watch movies? Do Hagerstrang’s suggested constraints have anything to do with your answer?
Schonfelder, S & Axhausen KW 2010, ‘Time, Space and Travel Analysis: An Overview’, in S Schonfelder & KW Axhausen (eds), Urban Rhythms and Travel Behaviour: Spatial and Temporal Phenomena of Daily Travel, Ashgate Publishing Company, Surrey, p.29-48.