Beyond the Multiplex

Beyond the Multiplex was a four year project that aimed to understand how to enable a wider range of audiences to participate in a more diverse film culture.


The project was driven by fundamental belief in the cultural value of the moving image, and a desire to help to support our industry partners to develop sustainable, diverse audiences for films beyond the mainstream.

Provision of mainstream film is good across England; however, provision of specialised films is low across the English regions outside London, which limits the opportunities for people to experience a more diverse film culture.
The aim of the project was to understand how to enable a wider range of audiences to participate in a more diverse film culture that embraces the wealth of films beyond the mainstream; and how to optimise the cultural value of engaging with those less familiar films.

  • We did this by investigating how audiences engage with and form around ‘specialised’ films in four English regions, the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West/Greater Manchester and the South West.
  • Audience formation is the way in which people’s individual engagement with film becomes a shared, wider experience.
  • Drawing on industry definitions, ‘specialised films’ were understood as films outside the mainstream, including small scale UK films, foreign language, documentary, archive and hard-to-pigeonhole films, and films with unconventional narratives, themes or cinematic techniques.

Achieving these aims requird a holistic approach that addressed the details of consumption and the opportunities to consume, namely the provision of film at a regional level, including online. The goal was both to advance scholarship and to provide concrete recommendations about how UK audience policies can be improved.

Duration: 2017 – 2021


Project Team

  • Prof. Bridgette Wessels (Principal Investigator – University of Glasgow)
  • Michael Pidd (Co-Investigator – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Dr David Forrest (Co-Investigator – University of Sheffield)
  • Prof. Andrew Higson (Co-Investigator – University of York)
  • Prof. Simeon Yates (Co-Investigator – University of Liverpool)
  • Dr Peter Merrington (Research Associate – University of Glasgow)
  • Dr Matthew Henchard (Research Associate – University of Glasgow)
  • Dr Nathan Townsend (Research Associate – University of York)
  • Dr Lito Tsitsou (Research Associate – University of Glasgow)
  • Dr Roderik Smits (Research Associate – University of York)
  • Katherine Rogers (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Jamie McLaughlin (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Helen Rana (Interviewer)
  • Dr Sarah Hargreaves (Interviewer)
  • Dr Rosie Shute (Interviewer)