Movie theaters have been around for over a century now, dating all the way back to 1890s. The whole concept of going out and paying money to see an event wasn’t necessarily new with the creation of cinema, however it did create a new medium. Last time I went out with friends to watch a movie was a few weeks ago when Sausage Party was released in theaters. Regardless of the quality of the movie, I had no interest in going to see the movie by myself. It was most definitely fun, but I only saw it because I was invited.
Despite my personal feelings on cinema, I often overhear conversations of people going out and seeing movies. However, in recent years cinema has started to decline (Within Australia at least). Within the past 10 years, there is a 14 percent decline in people attending cinema (Di Rosso 2015). Why is this?
Torsten Hagerstrand, a swedish geographer came up with three constraints that restrict people’s daily activities:
- Capability constraints. These are limits on human movement due to physical or biological factors such as the need to sleep or to eat, access to mobility tools and the availability of temporal and financial resources for conducing activities and making trips (Hagerstrand 1970, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38).
- Coupling constraints. These are restrictions on the autonomous allocation of time due to the need to coordinate with institutional logistics (schedules or given locations) or interactions with other individuals (appointments or meetings) (Hagerstrand 1970, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38).
- Authority constraints. These are limits 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, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.39).
In theory, people can choose whatever they want to do because of free will. However these three constraints limit people on what they can and can’t do. This can also apply to the act of going to the cinema and watching a movie. Personally, I myself do not go out and see movies. The only time I do this is when invited by friends or family. Generally I have no interest in seeing movies that are released in the cinema. Even when I do have interest, it’s possible to view the movie online in my own time when it suits me.
This is where Netflix comes into play. With cinema, you have to go out, buy a ticket, go into the theater when the movie starts and then make your way home. It’s possible for this to clash with all three constraints. Biological factors can prevent you from going out, schedule can clash with movie showing time and the theater might be closed when you feel like seeing a movie. Netflix can negate most if not all of these constraints. Netflix is easy to access anywhere, view any time when it suits you and Netflix has no specific schedule. For a person who has no interest in going out to see movies on my own, Netflix is the perfect solution. It goes without saying, Netflix is insanely popular among the general public. Netflix already has over 44 million subscribers with 33 million in the US alone.
Some may argue that going out to a cinema with friends is something Netflix can’t replicate. I can see that point of view. People who are passionate about movies or film making will most likely prefer cinema over Netflix. However, for me personally, I’d be just fine inviting my friends over to hang out and watch a movie if cinema were to completely disappear.
It’s safe to say that while the experience of going out to a movie theater is unique and interesting in it’s own right, it’s counterpart Netflix is more favored by the public. Netflix is overall more convenient and can be cheaper overall.