Identifying Cinema Cultures and Audience Preferences: A Comparative Analysis of Audience Choice and Popularity in Three Medium-Sized Northern European Cities in the Mid-1930s

Clara Pafort-Overduin, John Sedgwick, Lies Van de Vijver


For this study we have adopted a comparative approach to better understand the regularities and differences of cinema markets and cultures. Our subject is the film preferences and choices of audiences in the cities of Ghent (Belgium), Utrecht (Netherlands) and Bolton (United Kingdom) in 1934 and 1935. Saturday, January 5th, 1935 serves as a pivotal date and the starting point for analysis of the film programming data of these three cities. Our findings show that by adopting a comparative approach it is possible to detect ‘unique’ titles that reflect the peculiarities of the local film culture. The data confirms that audiences in Bolton, Ghent, and Utrecht were attracted strongly to films originating in their own or neighbouring countries, particularly if they contained elements of song and dance.

Keywords: film popularity, film preferences, cinema cultures

DOI: 10.18146/2213-7653.2018.340

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ISSN: 2213-7653