restricted access “No One Likes to Be a Captive Audience”: Headphones and In-Flight Cinema


In-flight cinema emerged in the 1960s against a tumultuous backdrop of technological changes in the moviegoing experience: the drive-in, the multiplex, experiments in 3D, and the broadcast of films on television. In this article, I argue that the decision by airlines to provide headphone sets to passengers in order to access the sound track has important implications for the study of spectatorship and exhibition. This new practice—a group of spectators listening to film sound tracks through headphones—heralded the advent of the separated spectator, a crucial figure in the current digital era of cinema.