I like to complain – you know that. There are a lot of things to complain about in the world: poverty, discrimination, the fact that both geography and my bank balance prevent me from watching Hamilton live in the Richard Rodgers Theatre… In a world of minor inconveniences and major injustices the cinema is a refuge, a place to escape reality.
For the longest time cinema has been the widely preferred alternative to the theatre. As much as I love to see live performances, the theatre is expensive and often poses a barrier in the form of location for many people. I may have never seen Hairspray or Grease performed on stage but thanks to cinema, I have been able to experience those stories.
However, when I began university last year I moved 200 miles away from my home to a much smaller town and I discovered that a lot of the films that I wanted to watch simply did not show here.
In the last year I distinctly remember my excitement at the lead-up to the releases of The Edge of Seventeen and Everybody Wants Some!! only to find that they would not be shown in this town. It was then that I started to realise that cinema isn’t as accessible to everybody as I had once believed it to be.
No matter how wrong it is, there is a stereotype that exists in which the sort of people that go to the theatre are typically wealthy, middle-class liberals. Similarly, when you hear that somebody loves independent cinema, an idea of who that person is forms in your mind. Cinemas aren’t going to pay to screen a movie if they don’t think that they’ll make money back from it and so, smaller niche films are reserved for bigger cities and specific types of cinemas.
The little town where I live for the majority of the year is a great place, full of students from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of interests but that variety isn’t reflected in the cinema listings. Of course, I can watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or Moana but if I want to watch Snowden or The Birth of a Nation I have to travel for two hours.
I understand that the film industry is an industry: there are big businesses involved and ultimately they’re trying to make a profit but it doesn’t seem right.
Do you think that films should be more widely distributed? Or that there’s no need to do so? Let me know in the comments.