Rollercoasters and Reality: A Study of Big Screen Documentary Audiences

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Who are the documentary audience? This paper presents research carried out between 2002 and 2007, in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Austria, which aims to define this largely unstudied group. Evidence from qualitative and sample quantitative analysis is presented to argue that this group is not, as often supposed, identical to the art-house audience. 442 questionnaires and sixteen focus groups are reported, carried out in four countries, over five years. Detailed results are analysed to demonstrate the differences between rural and urban audiences; audience expectations and realities of documentaries screened in the
cinema; and an accurate demographic and psychographic picture of the various audiences that constitute the people who watch documentaries in the cinema. Strategies for encouraging bigger audiences, and for increasing current audience satisfaction are briefly outlined. The limits of this research are clearly set out,
and further research recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


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