It was a cold Friday night, raining, very heavily. My friend Ash and I think of stuff to do other than lazing on the lounge in front of the TV watching Simpsons re-runs (The Mr Burns “see my vest” one in case you wanted to know) then I decide that we should go out and do something. Half an hour goes by, with the usual “can I be bothered?” and “do I have to get out of my trackies?” thoughts going through our heads when we decide to go to the movies. We look online at session guide and see the movie ‘Vacation’ and decide on that one. ‘Vacation’ is the reboot/sequel to the classic 1980’s National Lampoons Vacation, European Vacation movies etc. As of course as everyone does now, we watch the trailer on YouTube. A few cheap laughs and some known actors as well as Chevy Chase from the original. We then decide the movie is worth our “hard earned” money to see at the theatres.
As Hagerstrand has defined, we have had to deal with our ‘Capability’ constraints. This is one of the key constraints I feel most people encounter when going to the movies. The actual effort of going, do I have enough energy to sit in the cinema for over 2 hours? I feel the answer can be varied depending on days. This type of thinking leads towards ‘Coupling’ constraints. Debating on which cinemas we want to go to, if I want to be out in a social setting on a cold night and interaction with other people.
We sit in the cinema, after purchasing our tickets and not being tempted by the candy bar (which we noticed nothing has prices on it, making you have to ask to see if you can afford it or not). It’s a 7.50 session, so not exactly late, though the cinema isn’t very busy, 20 people max. There is many couples, all relatively young. My friend and I both groan as we automatically assume that young people will talk during the movie as we both do ourselves. We often will talk if the movie makes reference to something we like or anything like that. We are sitting pretty much in the middle of the cinema, so we can have the best view or screen. All the couples are sitting either in front rows or behind us. We have that relief feeling that we don’t have anyone directly near us though also somewhat insulted that nobody wants to be near us? Like are we those weirdos you see on the train no one wants to be near? As the movie is playing, I really need to use the bathroom and ofcourse have that dilemma in my head “do I hold it?” then I won’t stop thinking about needing to go and wishing I could just pause the movie, this is the ‘Authority’ constraint at play. The whole movie theatre experience is an Authoritarian environment. You pay for your ticket, pay for food; sit in assigned seat (supposedly), you don’t talk during movie, you can’t pause or rewind the movie.
So when driving home after movie I really began to saw how Hagerstrand’s human constraints really affect daily life and rituals such as movie theatre trips. In the modern world today we have more freedoms with our technology than ever before; we have greater access, and interaction with our media. The cinema experience is an experience that is declining with future audiences. Statistics from Screen Australia show that attendance rate of movie goers has dropped with the average person attending the movies 10.7 times in 1994 to 6.8 times in 2014 that’s almost a 50% decrease. Screen Australia believes that media consumption is changing, people want more on-demand and easy access media from outlets such as Netflix & Apple store. Price is also another factor that now attributes to less movie goers, a British study showed that the average price for a movie trip, including ticket and food or parking fees now adds up to $17 making it a costly experience to do on the regular. As a student myself I’m thankful for student pricing some cinemas offer, also carpooling when you can and eating beforehand, so I can still experience the cinemas and continue to support this industry that is struggling in today’s world.