See also audiences.
1. A group of viewers of a film: either in a cinema, or at home watching on DVD and other formats (though often used synonymously with film spectators).
2. In film studies, a group of people watching a film, either conceived of as an idealized discursive construct, about which theoretical assumptions are made (see also implied reader; subject), or specific individuals or groups defined as the focus of investigation using quantitative and/or qualitative methods (see audience research). Traditionally, film scholars have paid little attention to audiences, instead focusing on the film as a text and conceiving the audience as an undifferentiated and sometimes passive ‘mass’ vulnerable to the ideological effects of film (see hypodermic model). More recently approaches have sought to differentiate and contextualize film audiences as active creators of meaning: see active audience theory; uses and gratifications.
3. For film practitioners, the group representing the target market for a film. Film audiences have changed over time: for example, with the arrival of television. Since the 1950s, the average age of film audiences has grown steadily younger. Today young people aged 15–24 are the most likely to be regular cinemagoers. Men are generally regarded as more avid cinemagoers than women. Films reflect these changing audience demographics. However, Hollywood in particular has been criticized for not understanding its audience, resulting in expensive flops and surprise hits. Although film-makers try to reach a mass audience, some genres are targeted more specifically at certain demographics, e.g. action genres at men and romantic comedies at women. Certain films that flop on their initial release attract a dedicated audience over time: see fandom.