Beyond the Multiplex: Audiences for Specialised Film in English Regions

‘Beyond the Multiplex’ was a four-year research project (conducted between 2017 and 2021), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK which sought to develop an understanding how a wider range of audiences might be enabled to participate in a more diverse film culture. Through a partnership with the British Film Institute (BFI)’s Film Audience Network (FAN) and regional Film Hubs the project aimed to directly impact efforts in improving regional audience figures, widening film choice, and enhancing the cultural benefits of specialised film.

Researchers from the Universities of Glasgow, Sheffield, York and Liverpool used mixed methods in its data collection and analyses and the data platform provides a very accessible and easy to search account of the research, the data and the findings.

The research does not focus on children, in particular, but there is clear evidence of the importance of childhood and youth experiences of film. For example, the research team use the idea of a personal film journey to explore significant experiences of film through the life course:

Beyond the Multiplex demonstrated that personal film journeys are the social and cultural processes through which individuals develop their own personal relationships with film as an ongoing process throughout their life. As people progress through different life stages, from childhood and adolescence (-18), early adulthood (18-24), midlife (25-54), and then into older age (55+), their relationship with film changes. Although there are broad patterns in how people engage with film at each life stage, it is nuanced and slightly different for every person. The relationship a person has with film can be shaped by their interactions and relationships with other people, where they live, the professional, educational and cultural resources and experiences acquired throughout their life, as well as various social and economic factors.

Findings from the research highlight the need for film education / exhibition activity which widens access of those from lower socio-economic groups to more diverse film culture and is therefore highly relevant to our sector.

There is also a really useful search function, including a search of the survey data. A simple key word search of the word ‘children’ resulted in over 450 results and it is clear that more analysis could be done of the existing data, to determine findings in relation to children’s film.

To dive into the project go here.