Watching movies on Digital Devices vs. in Cinema: Never should be a competition

Image result for cinema
Image: The cinema from

How the digital devices – with smaller screen and simpler equipment – can win audience over the cinema? To compare these types of watching experience, we need to base on several certain aspects, as both digital devices and cinema have their own unique traits. The conceptual framework of time geography by the Swedish geographer – Torsten Hagerstrand, which is a sophisticated tool for analysing individual movement in space and time (Neutens, Witlox & Demaeyer 2007, p.335) can apply to this case between cinema and TV. Hagerstrand’s work was first introduced in the late 1960s with primary study in the geography field, yet its concept has also been used to explain in other areas. According to this concept, there are three types of constraints that limit individuals in their daily activities: capability constrains, coupling constraints and authority constraints.

Capability constraints refer to the limits on human movement due to physical or biological factors, such as the need to sleep or to eat, access to mobility tools and availability of temporal and financial resources for conducting activities and making trips (Hagerstrand 1970, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38). In this category, it can be seen that there are more restrictions for a cinema goer than a TV or Iphone person. TV, smartphone, laptop or tablet are multifunctional and cost you less money to watch a program compared to go to the cinema, let alone that you can watch programs on these devices while you are eating or cooking, and have the food you like to enjoy with the movie rather than the snack you find in the cinema.


Coulpling constraints are regarded as the restrictions on the autonomous allocation of time due to the need to coordinate with institutional logistic (schedules or given locations) or interactions with other individuals (appointments or meetings)(Hagerstrand 1970, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.38). In this case, if you go to the cinema, you need to be there on time for a movie, while at home you can watch on your TV or laptop anytime while doing other things. Thus, this is another plus point for me not to go to the cinema.


Authority constraints are considered as the limits on when activities can or cannot take place, or where they must or must not be located, imposed by external parties. For example, mandatory closing hour is a potential constraint on individual behavior (Hagerstrand 1970, cited in Schonfelder & Azhausen 2010, p.39). It is certain that you have total control of your digital devices tơ watch, while for going to the cinema, you need to present your ticket to the staff there. Digital devices indeed create more privacy and ownership feelings for a watcher than cinema.


Image: Digital Device Set by Macrovector

Of course that apart from these, there are some opinions saying that cinema brings more valuable than that, as it truly brings people together when digital devices disconnects the human communication and promotes individualisation (Bausinger, 1984). However, the development of cinema to compete with the home box set in the direction of becoming a better version of the TV has reduced the values it could bring to audience (Lee, 2015). Private lover seats and other improvement in the cinema space to enhance personal experience reminds audience why they should go to cinema when they can enjoy the movie in a similar way at home. Furthermore, technology invested in the TV today has been so state-of-the-art that families are promised to have experience like watching the big screen in cinema(. While the home TV has stayed with its values and evolve significantly, cinema has lost its culture, resulting in the disinterest of the public regarding going to cinema, despite all marketing techniques and technology – such as promoting and owning the blockbusters before TV viewers could watch them.



Bausinger, H 1984, “Media, technology and daily life”, Media, Culture & Society, vol. 6, no. 4, pp.343-344.

Lee J 2015, ‘Cinema is Dying: How Movie Theaters Can Ensure Their Survival’, Make Use Of, 16 April, accessed 24 August 2018, <>.

Neutens, T, Witlox, F & Demaeyer, P 2007, ‘Individual accessibility and travel possibilities: A literature review on time geography’, European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, vol.7, no.4, p.335-352.

Schonfelder, S & Axhausen KW 2010, ‘Time, Space and Travel Analysis: An Overview’, in S Schonfelder & KW Axhausen (eds), Urban Rhythms and Travel Behaviour: Spatial and Temporal Phenomena of Daily Travel, Ashgate Publishing Company, Surrey, p.29-48.

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Trang Bùi

BCM-BINTs | Class of 2021 | UOW

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