XML Version
Verhoeven, D., Coate, B., Arrowsmith, C., Palmer, S. (2016). Using Big Cultural Data To Understand Diversity And Reciprocity In The Global Flow Of Contemporary Cinema. In Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts. Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University, Kraków, pp. 701-702.
Using Big Cultural Data To Understand Diversity And Reciprocity In The Global Flow Of Contemporary Cinema

Using Big Cultural Data To Understand Diversity And Reciprocity In The Global Flow Of Contemporary Cinema

This paper explores the relationships between countries in the exchange of movies and measures the reciprocal nature of these relationships. This investigation represents an innovative way to explore international exchanges of digital cultural content based on global cinema screenings analysed at the national level. Rather than focus on the market dominance of particular cinemas (e.g. the US or Indian cinemas) we examine the relative strength of two-way relationships in order to understand cultural reciprocity in the film industry. The dynamics of shared cultural exchange are explored in terms of the volume of transactions between ‘cinema nations’ expressed in the form of dyadic networks.

The paper is based on the premise that films can be understood as cultural goods that are distributed both between ‘territories’ or markets and across the globe according to industrially unique spatial patterns and temporal flows. Seeing film diffusion in this way invites us to explore the industrial aspects of movement and location but it also invites reflection on our use of these large datasets. For example, understanding the dynamics of global film exhibition and distribution demands an appreciation of scale and velocity in both the film industry and in a data-driven approach to its study. Data-driven approaches to Cinema Studies are at best an emergent aspect of the discipline (Verhoeven). This paper makes a significant contribution to the development of Cinema Studies by extending a trans-disciplinary, digital humanities approach to critically understanding the dimensions of a global creative industry at scale.

Digitisation and globalisation are full of contradictions in terms of how they impact diversity of screen culture represented by film. On one hand digitisation has facilitated an explosion in the number of films being made and that can be distributed and viewed online. This has had the effect of increasing the diversity of films available to audiences with digital access over the web. On the other hand however, only a relatively small proportion of films produced are released widely into cinemas. This paper seeks to provide insight into diversity at cinema locations that extends beyond the obvious dominance of Hollywood blockbusters. We are interested in drawing attention to equitable reciprocal exchange relationships that exist between nations, even where these may be small in scale, as evidence of alternative practices in the promotion of diversity at the cinema. This enables us to explore relational geographies using dyads in an approach similar to that of Taylor, Hoyler, Pain and Vincigurrra (2013) in their investigation of the connectivity between cities in the services sector. We use dyadic analysis to explore an equitable exchange in film that extends beyond the unilateral to ensure cultural exchange between two nations is assessed as a two-way flow where cultural content from both sides to the dyadic relationships are valued and accounted for.

The data used in this paper is drawn from the Kinomatics Global Showtime dataset (Kinomatics, 2015) which comprises over 330 million individual records of film screenings from across 31,500 venues covering 47 countries, including the US, India, most of Western Europe, Japan, Brazil and Australia for the years 2013 – mid-2015 (see Arrowsmith et al). For this analysis, the kinomatics data is analysed using a variety of methods that draw from a range of disciplinary perspectives including the digital humanities and economics as well as geospatial and computational sciences. Our key tool is Principal Components Analysis that explores dyadic relationships as part of Social Network Analysis (see: Wasserman and Faust, 1999). We apply this approach to ‘nations’ as they are defined by the kinomatics (cinema screening data aggregated at the national level) and imdb (film production aggregated at the national level) datasources. Further to this, in a selection of countries, we employ a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) to consider case study analysis of cultural diversity based on cinema screen count data. We use spatio-temporal visualisations as a way to represent the results and propose insights into the relational geographies of film flow and exchange that are found to exist.

Using dyads to explore international exchanges between nations we are able to consider diversity in relation to films screened at the cinema in terms of the two key dimensions stemming from globalised relations between nations, namely in terms of intensive and extensive international exchanges. The intensive dimension aids understanding of the most important national dyads that dominate cinema screenings that can be seen as the core centres of the globalised market for film, while the extensive dimension is focused upon the multitude of links between nations in a broader globalised market for film screened at the cinema. The analysis of dyadic relationships enables us to move beyond the assumption that the flow of cinema is simply unilateral. Instead we are concerned with the relative strength of exchanges in which a strong reciprocal dyadic relationship is one that has an equal exchange between two nodes, in this case, countries.

In considering diversity using the HHI we focus on the screening of new release features within the case studies of Australia, France and the Republic of Korea in order to analyse the relationship between cinema venue location (capital cities versus regional), venue type (in terms of the number of screens) and film programming allocations between domestic, US and other imported feature films. We find that as an increasing number of films are being released, non-US derived films are struggling in a tight contest for screen time.

  1. Arrowsmith, Colin; Verhoeven, Deb, and Davidson, Alwyn and Coate, Bronwyn (2014). ‘Kinomatics: A global study into Cinema Data’, Proceedings of the GSR_3 Conference, http://kinomatics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/GSR_Kinomatics.pdf, Melbourne
  2. Kinomatics (2015), www.kinomatics.com
  3. Taylor, P., Hoyler, M., Pain, K. and Vinciguerra, S. (2013) ‘Extensive and intensive globalisations: Explicating the low connectivity puzzle of U.S. cities using a city dyad analysis’, Journal of Urban Affairs, Vol 36, issue 5, doi: 10.1111/juaf.12077, 1-14.
  4. Verhoeven, Deb (2012) ‘New Cinema History and the Computational Turn’, Beyond Art, Beyond Humanities, Beyond Technology: A New Creativity”, World Congress of Communication and the Arts Conference Proceedings, University of Minho, http://kinomatics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Verhoeven_ComputationalTurn.pdf, Portugal
  5. Wasserman, S. and Faust, K. (1999) Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge University Press: New York.