Ian Christie
Humor & Entertainment

This timely volume engages with one of the most important shifts in recent film studies: the turn away from text-based analysis towards the viewer. Historically, this marks a return to early interest in the effect of film on the audience by psychoanalysts and psychologists, which was overtaken by concern with the 'effects' of film, linked to calls for censorship and moral panics rather than to understanding the mental and behavioral world of the spectator. Early cinema history has revealed the diversity of film-viewing habits, while traditional 'box office' studies, which treated the audience initially as a homogeneous market, have been replaced by the study of individual consumers and their motivations. Latterly, there has been a marked turn towards more sophisticated economic and sociological analysis of attendance data. And as the film experience fragments across multiple formats, the perceptual and cognitive experience of the individual viewer (who is also an auditor) has become increasingly accessible. With contributions from Gregory Waller, John Sedgwick and Martin Barker, this work spans the spectrum of contemporary audience studies, revealing work being done on local, non-theatrical and live digital transmission audiences, and on the relative attraction of large-scale, domestic and mobile platforms.

Introduction: In Search of Audiences
Part I Reassessing Historic Audiences
“At the Picture Palace”: The British Cinema Audience, 1895-1920
The Gentleman in the Stalls: Georges Méliès and Spectatorship in Early Cinema
Beyond the Nickelodeon: Cinema going, Everyday Life and Identity Politics
Cinema in the Colonial City: Early Film Audiences in Calcutta
Locating Early Non-Theatrical Audiences
Understanding Audience Behavior Through Statistical Evidence: London and Amsterdam in the Mid-1930s
PART II New Frontiers in Audience Research
The Aesthetics and Viewing Regimes of Cinema and Television, and Their Dialectics
Tapping into Our Tribal Heritage: The Lord of the Rings and Brain Evolution
Cinephilia in the Digital Age
Spectator, Film and the Mobile Phone
Exploring Inner Worlds: Where Cognitive Psychology May Take Us
PART III Once and Future Audiences
Crossing Out the Audience
The Cinema Spectator: A Special Memory
Operatic Cinematics: A New View from the Stalls
What Do We Really Know About Film Audiences?
General Bibliography
Notes on Contributors
Index of Names
Index of Film Titles
Index of Subjects
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