Although we are used to thinking of cinema in terms of ‘pictures that move’, film history has always meant by this the movement of film through the camera and projector, and the appearance of movement on the screen. Until recently, historians have paid less attention to the ways in which film prints move around their territories of distribution, and the implications of this in terms of the social mobilisation of particular audiences to view them. Histories of early cinema-going acknowledge a period characterised by travelling showmen or itinerant exhibitors, but imply that this mobility was transformed into stasis by the appearance of fixed or permanent venues. Another way of looking at this, however, is to suggest that until the appearance of digital distribution, cinema has always had an itinerant dimension. By this I mean that the chief operational challenge of the cinema business has been to match the physical distribution of product with the means of audience attendance at a singular event at a specified location and time. In fact, it is this practical capacity to travel which was recognised as among the defining conditions of cinema’s social impact by the authors of the Production Code: The motion picture, because of its importance as an entertainment and because of the trust placed in it by the peoples of the world, has special MORAL OBLIGATIONS. . . . By reason of the mobility of a film and the ease of picture distribution, and because of the possibility of duplicating positives in large quantities, this art reaches places unpenetrated by other forms of art.
ANZSRC / FoR Code
1902 FILM, TELEVISION AND DIGITAL MEDIA