The Cinema-Going Experience, is it Worth the Hassle?


We have all romanticised our picture-perfect cinema experience. It has been an activity linked to romance ever since motion pictured was available to the public. However, organising a trip to the cinema is never as easy as we think. Torsten Hägerstrand and his theory of time geography explore the time-consuming constraints that may affect our ability to consciously do something. Hägerstrand divides these constraints into three groups:

  • capability: can I get there?
  • coupling: can I get there at the right time?
  • authority: am I allowed to be there.


Image result for hagerstrand

“Time geography examines how humans allocate scarce time resources among activities in geographic space, the use of transportation and communication technologies to facilitate this allocation, and the patterns and relationships that emerge from these allocations across the population.” Miller H. (2008) Time Geography

To compare Hägerstrand’s theory with an everyday scenario, I will use my personal movie theatre experience that I had last week, and work out if any constraints impacted my ability to do this activity. About 5 days ago I had a date at my nearest movie theatre to see The Lion King. Usually, I would go through in my head the possible factors that could disrupt the flow of the night. This was just a nervous habit to prepare me for such moments, however, it turned out to be a personal exploration of the constraints that Hägerstrand theorized in his work.

Image result for the lion king

IMP, (2019)

Firstly I thought of the capability constraints. Can I afford a movie ticket? Do I have a way to get to the theatre? Luckily I had just been paid and could afford to buy petrol to get me to my destination. Despite me being pretty blind, this was not a constraint as I had my glasses with me. We also planned to eat before the movie, so it wasn’t as if we were impaired physically or biologically and therefore not able to complete this task. We both lived quite close to the movie theatre that we picked, so we were both quite capable of arriving at the theatre on time.

Next, I would look into possible coupling constraints. This could involve possible restrictions with aligning my schedule to the other person. I planned to go to the cinema with my date, so we organised a time where we both available that would align with the time the movie was showing. We planned to meet at 6pm for dinner and then to see the 7:45pm movie.

Authority constraints were not restrictive in this scenario, as we were both old enough to access this movie rated G. We were also aware of the time constraints with parking, as well as the closing of the cinema. Luckily, parking at this cinema is free and open after 6pm, and we had a movie time early enough before the entire shopping centre closed.

Cinema experiences are usually thought of as romantic date ideas between two people. However, ever since the growth of streaming services across multiple platforms, people have no longer felt the need to make the effort to meet at a cinema. It is so much easier to create a “Netflix and chill” moment in someone’s home, where capability, coupling and authority limitations are looser and easily dealt with. Netflix’s business model of “easy accessibility” eliminates the hassles of planning and scheduling as well as travel and parking hassles.

Personally, I would still prefer a cinema-going experience because I like the idea of a romantic night out. But in the reality of this generation, streaming in the comfort of your own home is so much easier and cuts travel and organising time in half.


Benny Lewis, (2019)


Miller H. (2008) Time Geography. In: Shekhar S., Xiong H. (eds) Encyclopedia of GIS. Springer, Boston, MA


IMP, (2019), The Lion King (2019). Available at: [Accessed 26 August 2019].

Jake Berninger, (2019), Streaming services’ success spreading. Available at: [Accessed 26 August 2019].

Benny Lewis, (2019), Is Watching Foreign Language Movies a Waste of Time?. Available at: [Accessed 28 August 2019].

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