Contemporary Developments in Cinema Exhibition

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Hanson, Stuart (2014)
  • Publisher: Leicester Media School
  • Subject: Multiplex cinema | film exhibition | digital cinema

he work offered for this PhD by Published Works charts the history of cinema exhibition in Britain from the late 1950s to the present. At the start of this period, cinemagoing as a form of public entertainment entered a long period of decline that was only arrested with the development and growth of multiplex cinemas in the 1980s and 1990s. Despite these changes, the feature film itself remained a culturally and commercially valuable artefact, though increasingly this meant the Hollywood film. Whilst due consideration is afforded to the technological changes in cinemas and the cinema apparatus, my work places the development of cinemagoing in a broad social, economic, cultural and political context, and explains how these issues impact upon on-going developments. In the late 1950s, cinemagoing declined partly in response to changing leisure habits, demographic shifts, the growth of consumer culture, television, and the widespread adoption of new broadcast technologies like home video and satellite. The multiplex returned feature films to cinemas, but was a definitively American commercial form closely associated with new forms of leisure and out-of-town retailing. There are also parallels between the context for development of the multiplex in the USA – suburbanisation, shopping malls and reliance on the motorcar – and developments in Britain in the last 30 years. To this end there is a specific emphasis on the development of the multiplex cinema as part of a wider narrative about the re-positioning of cinemagoing as a collective, public form of visual entertainment, in the period from the mid-1980s, in the context of some dramatic changes in the transient nature of capitalism and urban planning. From the early 1990s onwards there was a growing anxiety about the impact of out-of-town developments on Britain’s urban centres, and a concomitant and renewed emphasis on the importance of the urban core rather than the edge. Thus, the key to understanding the evolution of cinema exhibition today is to pay particular attention to urban planning as inherently ideological, shifting and changing in line with broader political, economic and social considerations.
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