Abstract

:
This research project investigates current home theatre/movie watching habits of individuals during present climate of rapid social and technological change. Study will measure correlations and discrepancies between recent peer reviewed investigational material and our grounded research material. Our team’s research consists of interviews with local residents. Research datum consists of interviews gathered in Saint John, New Brunswick during autumn/winter of 2012. Initial area of interest, discovering how viewers sourced out movie entertainment for their home, became only one question of interest as other interesting phenomenon such as social/family habits of movie enjoyment and fragmenting of individual tastes and interests were impacted by state-of-theart media devices and accompanying access to movie/cinema content.

A brief lineage of “home theatre’
The pleasures of enjoying a good story at home trace back to when

people told yarns around a warming fire. Since then people have used Magic Lanterns and other innovations that shine images to aid the storyteller. While storytelling has remained popular, perhaps even essential, technologies improved from rudimentary images being displayed. In the 20th century, broadcast signals beamed through the air, straight into home television sets. The flicking blue light shining through home windows was a common sight as families enjoyed watching movies on television. The age of the home theatre arrived. By the late 1970’s an individual could buy or rent a videocassette machine and watch their choice of movie anytime they wished, right on their own television set. Jump thirty years forward and home television morphed into home theatre systems with improved quality in every way imaginable. Television sets can now, in ratio of room size, often be as large as movie theatre screens, and accompanying sound systems have thunderous and dynamic audio capabilities. Movie choice has grown staggeringly as television broadcasts gave way to cable and satellite channels often specializing in 24-hour movie delivery. Not only that. VHS tapes gave way to DVD’s that are more compact and offer overall superior quality. From the first “video rental stores” of the 1970’s through to the introduction of the introduction of the first DVD movie released (Twister 1996 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117998/trivia?tab=tr&item=tr0668787) the lasting impact was the establishment of retail and rental stores for the sale and rental of

videotapes. These stores would soon establish their right to rental through the “first sale doctrine,” guaranteeing them all the profits from rentals after first paying for content" (Sebok, 2007). Moreover, these small businesses had a legislated right to maximize profits due to a "first sale doctrine" that guaranteed 100% profit rights after initial purchase investment from by the rental store. Even though the price for rental material was greater than for "sell through," retail versions, it was a hugely profitable business arrangement for the video renter. In fact another profit model for the video renter to consider was the retail sale of DVD movies. DVD’s have been marketed with the idea of creating a more knowledgeable, thus enthusiastic cinema/movie fan. By including deleted scenes, having interviews with the directors and other creative people involved in the movies creation, DVD’s give the purchaser, now ‘film collector’ privileged information into the culture of cinema. Content was often obscure and riddled with ironic pastiche that increased the entertainment value of the overall DVD package (Tyron 2009, p.36). In return, the video dealer had a customer more eager to view more products and in turn become more competent in the culture of film. It was an escalating cycle and an inspiring business model. In short, the movie content availability and quality of movie display had placed home theatre to a level almost on par with what movie houses had to offer. Technology’s offerings appeared to herald in a golden age of family movie viewing and home theatre enjoyment. But just as home theatre thrived on DVD

rentals and sales reached their peak audience penetration in 2006 other forces materialized that changed the home theatre experience.

Fragmentation of a home audience – Consolidation of a globally linked audience:
Home theatre audiences had become groomed to be knowledgeable and film savvy customers. This is interesting due to an unaccounted for pervasiveness of the Internet. The Internet makes move content available instantly and at no cost. Add to that the fact that one’s tastes can be satisfied without the need for household consensus on family movie night. If a fan of a movie has a wants to discuss a film that their local friends and family are not interested in, then all that fan has to do is look for a discussion forum on the internet that has others who have common film interests. Barbara Klinger refers to this phenomena as “replay culture’. By this Klinger means that comments posted on the internet continually circulate on YouTube, fan sites, movie download sites and various social network boards. Given this form of replay form of cultural entertainment, an insignificant movie that would once have been made – only to disappear due to insignificance, gets re-watched and re-discussed until it has a cult (though sizable) following (Klinger, “Becoming cult: The Big Lebowski and male fans, 2010). Chuck Tryon also makes a similar comparison in his 2009 book about cinema in the age of media convergence. While many critics of so called

media convergence have warned about internet movie content somehow pulling people away from being solid fans of cinema, Tryon informs us that internet content, be it movie trailers delivered to our smart phones or lap tops. Tryon does not deny that there are changes in the new digital age of film distribution. However he maintains that this new age is as socially complex and valuable as the home theatre generation that preceded it. Just as DVD fans enjoy extra features in collector editions of movies, the ‘extras’ of a recently released independent film or cult hit are the pod casts, fan websites and perhaps the director’s website. In a recent presentation from the Institute of Film and Television Studies' Ephemeral Media Workshops, Professor Barbara Klinger related a story about a basement club that is part of a video shop/pizzeria called the “Den-of-Cin.” At this club armature actors are invited to perform in front of an audience. As YouTube snippets of film are projected onto a screen behind a stage, participants take part in “Movieoke.” Similar to the more familiar “Karaoke,” fans are invited to the stage to add the dramatic audio to their chosen screen clip, which has had its sound muted ( Ephemeral Media http://youtu.be/qwAn0kZt_mE ). As Tryon argues, the digital age of media needn’t be criticized as socially impoveraged at all. It is merely different and a direct human adaptations to benign and indifferent technological innovations.

Some points to consider when fondly remembering.....

Television’s Past was not all blue sky. In a 1986 book “Family Television,” British social researcher David Morley, discusses the television and accompanying VCR as playing a mediating role that assuages feelings of guilt and obligation. No human act occurs in a vacuum and Morley explores the symbolic behaviors that, in the case of his interview subjects, allow for a continual and severe form of patriarchal dominance to take place. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>