The Audience Effect: On the Collective Cinema Experience

by Julian Hanich (2017)

- Audience studies -- film.
- Aesthetics -- film.
- Film studies.
- Reception studies -- film.
- Film-Philosophy.
- Film theory.

Is the experience of watching a film with others in a cinema crucially different from watching a film alone? Does laughing together amplify our enjoyment, and when watching a film in communal rapt attention, does this intensify the whole experience? Attending a film in a cinema implies being influenced by other people, an ‘audience effect’ that is particularly noticeable once affective responses like laughter, weeping, embarrassment, guilt, or anger play a role. In this innovative book, Julian Hanich explores the subjectively lived experience of watching films together, to discover a fuller understanding of cinema as an art form and a social institution that matters to millions of people worldwide. Combining recent scholarly interest in viewers’ emotions and affects with insights from the blossoming debate about collective emotions in philosophy and social psychology, this study makes viewers more aware of their own experience in the cinema, and simultaneously opens up a new line of research for film studies.

Key Features
- Describes the experiences spectators have when they watch a film collectively in a cinema
- Provides detailed phenomenological descriptions of how it feels when viewers laugh, cry and get angry in the cinema
- Investigates film theorists who have previously voiced ideas about the collective cinema experience such as Walter Benjamin, André Bazin, Edgar Morin, Roland Barthes and Roger Odin

List of Illustrations

Establishing Shot: Definition and History
1. Introduction: What Is the Audience Effect?
2. Excavating the Audience Effect: Precursors in the History of Film Theory

Long Shot: Types of Collective Viewing
Introductory Notes
3. Quiet-Attentive Viewing: Toward a Typology of Collective Spectatorship, Part I
4. Expressive-Diverted Viewing: Toward a Typology of Collective Spectatorship, Part II

Medium Shot: On the Cinema’s Affective Audience Effects
5. I, You and We: Investigating the Cinema’s Affective Audience Interrelations
6. Feeling Close: Conceptualizing the Cinema’s Affective We-Experiences

Close-up: Case Studies of Affective Audience Effects
7. Chuckle, Chortle, Cackle: A Phenomenology of Cinematic Laughter
8. When Viewers Silently Weep: A Phenomenology of Cinematic Tears
9. Distance and Distraction: A Phenomenology of Cinematic Anger

Fade-Out: Conclusion
10. The Audience Effect in the Cinema and Beyond


Sample Chapter:

Julian Hanich is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Groningen. In his research he focuses on audience emotions and affects, the film experience, and questions of film style. His first monograph Cinematic Emotion in Horror Films and Thrillers: The Aesthetic Paradox of Pleasurable Fear (2010) was a phenomenological investigation into the question why viewers enjoy being scared. His articles have appeared in Screen, Cinema Journal, Projections and many others.


'This book moves its attention from the images on the screen to the audience gathered in the film theatre and eventually tells ‘their’ stories. Hanich makes a spectacular shift, and he unfolds a reality that film studies has partly forgotten, as well as cinema’s nature as a ‘democratic’ art. A rigorous and fascinating book that will revamp audience studies.'
- Professor Francesco Casetti, Yale

'The Audience Effect is is an immensely important contribution to the phenomenology of cinema. Focused on the much-neglected collectivity of the theatrical film experience, it also touches on other modes of collective viewing, and its rigorous descriptions of the structures, effects, and affects entailed in collective viewing are extraordinarily enlivened by many examples and extremely accessible prose.'
- Professor Vivian Sobchack, UCLA



Hanich, Julian [1975-]
The Audience Effect: On the Collective Cinema Experience.
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017, 336 p., ill., 23 cm.
ISBN 9781474414951 (hb., GBP 75,00)
ISBN 9781474414968 (pdf, GBP 75,00)
ISBN 9781474414975 (epub, GBP 75,00)
[Bibl. refs.]
[due 11/17]