Cinema in Context

How To Do

What percentage of Amsterdam cinemas screened French films in 1928?

In order to answer this question we will combine two data collections from Cinema Context. We will answer the question in two steps.


Step 1

First we will define how many cinemas existed in Amsterdam in 1928. We will do this as follows:

  • Open Cinema Context in a new window
  • Click on Cinemas at the top of the page
  • Enter 'Amsterdam' in the first search field and select City from the pull-down menu behind it
  • To limit the search query, enter '1928' in both search fields marked Time period from
  • Click on
  • Search results will list '1 to 10 of 28'. This indicates that there were 28 cinemas in Amsterdam in 1928

Step 2

We will now define how many cinemas in Amsterdam screened French films in this year:

  • Click on Programmes
  • Enter 'Amsterdam' in the first search field
  • Select City from the pull-down menu behind it
  • Select Country of film origin in the pull-down menu behind the second search field. An Index button will appear to the right of the search field
  • Click on the Index button and select France
  • Enter ‘01-01-1928’ and ‘31-12-1928’ in the fields marked shown between
  • Click on search programmes
  • Select cinema ascending from the pull-down menu marked sort by
  • Count the number of cinemas which are arranged in alphabetical order

You will see that 22 of all 28 cinemas in Amsterdam screened French films in 1928. Therefore, 22 : 28 x 100 = 78.6 percent (one might say: nearly 80 percent) of the cinemas in Amsterdam screened at least one French film in 1928.


  • Even relatively simple questions like this one yield results that are not entirely unambiguous. You will always have to question your own assumptions. Are all 28 cinemas actual movie theaters, or do they include travelling cinemas?
  • Would you include cinemas that were closed for renovations for a large part of a year?
  • What is your definition of a ‘cinema’? Is a theatre that only screens a film occasionally a cinema?
  • How complete are the listings in Cinema Context? There are for instance films that have not yet been identified and about which it is not clear from which country they came originally. The actual percentage might therefore be higher.
  • A logical next question raises itself immediately: How did the percentage of French films develop in Amsterdam in the 1920s?

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