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Svjetlana Oppen, Maria Cusumano, and Cherry Theresanathan standing in front of outdoor movie screenTech team members Svjetlana Oppen, Maria Cusumano, and Cherry Theresanathan during the pre-show at the outdoor riverfront drive-in style venue at WIFF Under the Stars in August 2020.

Film prof foresees broadening of cinematic experiences

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic closed cinemas, there have been signs of disruption to the classic movie theatre experience, says film professor Kim Nelson.

She draws on history to predict future change in an article published Sunday in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community.

“Cinemas were not how people originally watched movies,” Dr. Nelson writes. “There are signs that home viewing will be joined by a growing resurgence of local movie-going experiences that draw on entertainment pastimes that preceded Hollywood’s rise.”

She notes that the original way to watch motion pictures was the Kinetoscope, a single-viewer peephole device. Later, projected moving pictures were presented as a technical marvel in the midst of magic and vaudeville routines by live performers.

“Could some spectators be more interested in the social factor of theatrical exhibition, drawn to the stronger sense of solidarity evoked by film festivals?” Nelson asks.

Her research included a survey of audience members at the Windsor International Film Festival, which found that respondents valued cinema, a night out, and community as reasons for attending.

“Perhaps post-pandemic, audiences eager to escape their isolation chambers will broaden their scope in seeking out a larger variety of venues and ways to watch,” she concludes.

Read the entire piece, “Oscars 2021: COVID-19 has rekindled a ‘back to the future’ love of movies,” in the Conversation.