Cinema Located. A study on place, space and social experience of cinema in Ghent (1982-2012)
The multiplex celebrated its 30th anniversary, yet very little empirical research has been done on the place, space and experience of cinema culture since its emergence (Hanson, 2007; Klinger, 2006; Acland, 2003). The workings of Hollywood, cross-cultural reception and the Americanisation of the cinema culture in non-American domains have been subject to many critiques (Krämer, 2011; Trumpbour, 2002; Vasey, 1997; Thompson, 1985; Guback, 1969). In addition, the profound entwinement of cinema and digital culture today provides a sufficient amount of food for (a vast variety of) thought (McDonald & Wasko, 2008; Wasko, 2003), but little attention has been given to empirically researching the social meaning of going to the movies from the eighties onwards. In addition, the experience of extra- heatrical and nontheatrical film consumption (Allen, 2011; Fuller-Seeley, 2008; Klinger, 2006) remain open for research on a local level. Due to a lack of time, much of the research done for my doctoral thesis ended at the beginning of the eighties, at a time the social construction of going to the movies radically changed. The main goal of this empirical research is to understand the experience of screen culture (exploitation, distribution and reception) from the emergence of the multiplex in Ghent in 1982 to the absorption of film in digital culture in the present day. From a theoretical point of view, the research will focus on defining place as a spatial site of cinema and space as a constructed social site of cinemagoing. The multiplex in Ghent will serve as a microhistory to exemplify the experiences of fundamental changes in the history (of all dimensions) of film ever since the coming of sound; in production (the blockbusters), in distribution (the saturation release) and in exploitation (the multiscreen and multiplex). It is essential and relevant to understand this particular trend in the history of cinema, because the multiplex as a U+2018servicehatchU+2019 rather than a social site gave way to a new consumer audience labeled U+2018parcaholicsU+2019 or in U+2018hyper individualistic space bubblesU+2019 (Hubbard, 2003a; 2003b) consuming visual trans-media products. Yet the multiplex successfully saved the film industry from declining admission numbers in Ghent. It is essential to understand the social in the post-moviegoing era (Allen, 2011).