Cinema in Context

How To Do

How many cinemas in Rotterdam screened films in 1931?

This is an example of a simple question that can be answered easily by using Cinema Context. A question like this one is particularly interesting in comparison with other cities and other years. This is sometimes a necessary first step that must be made in order to answer more complex questions.


  • Open Cinema Context in a new window
  • Click on Cinemas at the top of the page
  • Enter 'Rotterdam' in the first search field and select City from the pull-down menu behind it
  • Enter ‘1931’ and ‘1932’ in the search fields marked programmes between
  • Click on
  • Search results will list ‘1 to 10 of 19’. This means that 19 cinemas have been found that match your search query.


Based on this result, you can pose a number of questions:

  • What is your definition of a 'cinema'? Not every building where a film is screened is necessarily a cinema. Is a theatre that only screens a film occasionally a cinema?
  • A travelling cinema listed within Cinema Context is not a building, but a company that travels from city to city and screens films. Sometimes that would happen in a building, and sometimes in a fairground booth. You can search for travelling cinemas in the collection Programmes or Companies.
  • What counts as an operational cinema? Would you include cinemas that were closed for renovations for a large part of a year?

Even relatively simple questions like this one yield results that are not entirely unambiguous. You will always have to question your own assumptions.

A logical next question would be: How many cinemas were active in Rotterdam in each year from 1921 until 1940?


Answer the following question: How many cinemas screened films in Utrecht in 1928?

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