There has been some controversial discussions about the future of cinema on AFTRS blogs. This followed a cheeky session we ran at our annual staff curriculum review which posed a hypothetical 2012 scenario where Sydney had only two working cinemas. We asked everyone to posit a purpose for a media school operating in this environment.
Ben Goldsmith has been blogging about the opening of the new Chauvel Cinema and it’s rejuvenated range of programs intended to draw a younger demographic to the cinema. He also quoted statistical studies which show older Australians are actually making more cinema visits.
Well I’m skeptical after going to an AIMIA presentation yesterday on the future of the digital home. Graeme Philipson from Connection Research ServiceÂ presented the results of an Australian consumer study which found a very bouyant market for home cinema systems in Australia along with a raft of digital lifestyle products. Over 3300 Australian homes were surveyed in March/April 2006 and while there is a long way to go there are strong trends that people are ready to buy up new home entertainment gadgets. So the question for the cinemas is really why go out when you can stay in?
I think if cinemas are going to differentiate themselves they need to develop experiences that go beyond the capabilites of home cinema – and cultivate events which build on the group viewing experience. In 2003 there was an outfit in San Diego called eSport who launched multiplayer gaming in cinema spaces and this kind of thinking outside the square may help cinemas to build younger audiences through hosting interactive group experiences.
There is an interesting article which talks about 3D cinema technology being used to beam live sports events into US cinemas. Might just work until those 3D home cinema systems take hold. But the feeling of being surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd in a virtual sports arena could work as a cinema experience. Definitely a lean forward experience.