New Media Goes to the Movies: Digitizing the Theatrical Audience

Blake Hallinan, C. J. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Movie theaters typically appear adjacent to discussions of new media. Although there has been work on digital cinema, we shift the focus from the digitization of the medium to the digitization of the theatrical audience and analyze the movie theater as new media. To do so, we look at the historical and contemporary strategies for digitizing the theatrical audience of a prominent theater chain. We identify common media of digitization, including credit cards, computerized point-of-sale systems, and loyalty programs. The origins of these techniques and imperatives trace back to the 1970s and 1980s, even as they take on new forms today. We then analyze the industrial logics of audience digitization and emergent communication and data collection methods. Finally, we analyze the movie theater as a platform, showing both the relevance of movie theaters and the challenges their inclusion as an object of study poses for contemporary platform studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-399
Number of pages21
JournalTelevision and New Media
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • audience
  • media industries
  • movie theater
  • new media
  • platform
  • theatrical exhibition

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


Dive into the research topics of 'New Media Goes to the Movies: Digitizing the Theatrical Audience'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this