Remember when you would go to the cinema for an outing? Like it was a huge deal to go see a show? It is uncommon now these days, but back in the day cinemas used to be a huge thing. Guys would take their girlfriends and wives there for a good time; it was billed as a romantic thing to do. Anyway, I recently spoke with my dad, Tony, about his early experiences with cinema and I found it really interesting how times have changed.
For 6 years when I worked at my local cinema the trends for most days were predictable, but according to Tony the cinema was a different place 20-30 years ago. Tony told me to think about the movies that came out in the 50’s and 60’s and compare them to shows of today and you can see the differences in audiences. In those days films like Gone With the Wind and the Sound of Music were big with the crowds. Dramas were the romantic comedies of the day. Sure, these days we see the occasional dramas like Titanic and The Great Gatsby, however, we don’t have those big shows where girls and guys go in fancy clothes like shown below.
In the cinema business the stats don’t lie; films are judged by people in seats and we get some quantitative data. These numbers which are recorded by an independent company in Australia help determine the success of a movie in figures but lack insight into other equally important details. The qualitative data I got from Tony can fill us in on this. He talked to me about seeing the Sound of Music (yes, he is ancient, I get it) in the cinema. The statistics can only show us that it grossed $286,214,076 worldwide; Tony however recalls that the 20 or so people at the showing there were 2 families there, a few couples and an older married couple in the audience. These small details can show you who the demographic audience is for the movie, just knowing that it sold a lot of tickets really isn’t much to go by. The differences in qualitative data and quantitative data helps discover if the movies were in fact a success in their desired demographic or if a new demographic emerged that the producers never would have thought of.
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