Memories of cinema-going, community and the revival of the local cinema
This presentation will consider some preliminary data from a quantitative study, undertaken by members of De Montfort University’s Cinema and Television History Research Institute and the University of Leicester’s Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies, of the audiences at three regional cinemas recently renovated and re-opened by the Mundin family – the Regal in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire; the Ritz in Belper, Derbyshire; and the Savoy in Heaton Moor, near Stockport, which suggests that the over-55s are a significant demographic in understanding the renewed appeal and success of town-centre cinemas. There is very little audience research on cinema-going outside of commercial industry-produced research, with the exception of the BFI’s small-scale study of five cinemas (‘The Impact of Local Cinema’) in 2005; which utilized some small focus groups but was nonetheless focussed largely on the cinemas and the exhibitors. Regional Screen Scotland undertook a study on the impact of local cinema (‘Your Cinema, Your Community’) in 2016 and, whilst the cinema (and geographical) landscape of Scotland has sharp differences from that of England, the issues arising around the importance of cinemas in communities validates our proposed approach. Our initial survey research, utilising some 1,350 completed questionnaires, suggests that the local cinema-going audience is characterised by an older demographic, with 67% of respondents aged 55 or over. This is in sharp contrast to the age distribution of audiences for cinema nationally – dominated as it is by out-of-town multiplexes – for which, according to the BFI (Statistical Yearbook, 2017), only 12% of the audience was aged over 55. Our survey also identified some common themes amongst respondents: the significance of the cinema’s position within the town and a concomitant support for local developments; anti-commercialist sentiments; an interest in independent film and nostalgia for (non-multiplex) cinemas.
The paper was given at the 3rd Annual Community Screen Forum Conference, University of East Anglia, Norwich.
Citation : Hanson, S. (2018) Memories of cinema-going, community and the revival of the local cinema. 3rd Annual Community Screen Forum Conference, University of East Anglia, Norwich, August 2018
Research Institute : Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI)
Peer Reviewed : No
- Leicester Media School 
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