The University of Newcastle, Australia

Industry partnerships help fund research to future proof the cinema industry

Monday, 28 October 2019

Research will enhance the cinema going experience.

Dr Simon Weaving, film researcher with the School of Creative Industries has secured $12,500 industry funding for his research project that aims to future proof the cinema-going experience.

With the increasing use of television streaming services such as Stan and Netflix, the frequency with which people visit the cinema is dropping. This has left the film industry wondering ‘how do we make going to the cinema a habit again rather than a one-off night out?’

That is the question Dr Weaving is targeting through his collaborative project involving the Cinema Industry Research Network. The network is made up of University of Newcastle researchers and film industry stakeholders from the distribution and exhibition sectors. The industry stakeholders, Independent Cinema Association, Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, Event Cinema, Hoyts Cinema, and Village Entertainment have contributed funding towards the research.

The qualitative research seeks to understand how consumers differentiate between entertainment/leisure experiences, how they determine investment decisions, and how they value specific rituals associated with cinema and competing experiences.

Dr Weaving said the research will produce a knowledge base that will provide insights and inputs that can be used to develop and trial industry initiatives that enhance the customer journey through the cinema experience.

“Cinema one of those businesses where people mostly go by gut feeling and there’s not a lot of emphasis on deep research. My aim is to change that by developing a research network with key organisations within the Australian film industry. It’s an exciting initiative and one that I hope will create a research agenda that is really industry focused and will help solve the problem of the moment, which is when you can buy a ten dollar a month subscription service, why go to the cinema?” Dr Weaving asked.

The research will focus on two main areas. Firstly the decision-making of consumers who currently choose not to attend theatrical screenings, and those who choose not to watch any cinema (on any screen), in order to assess the rituals that compete with the cinema experience. The second area of focus will be on the attitudes and behaviours of younger audiences. The researchers will ask them to position their understanding of the cinema experience in relation to alternative and ideal leisure and entertainment experiences.

“People over 25 tend to already have a cinema habit because they experienced it before the introduction of television streaming and most surveys show they still think cinema is the best place to watch a movie. But the younger generation don’t necessarily think that and see the cinema as a kind of old school way of experiencing films,” Dr Weaving said. “Through this research we want to find ways to help the cinema industry become more relevant to younger consumers who are more used to a user experience connected world.”

The results from the research should be available in early 2020.

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