Tested on Keith Lemon: Big Screen is More Exciting

The team of scientists put Keith Lemon through a number of biometrics tests including eye tracking and heart rate monitoring, to prove that the big cinema screen is better.

  • Biometric science study featuring TV star Keith Lemon proves that the cinema is significantly more exciting than watching movies on tv
  • Study shows better concentration levels in the cinema vs watching a movie on TV
  • Cinema heart-rate reveals greater excitement levels than watching on TV
  • Cinema pre-bookings up “significantly” compared to the end of the first lockdown

Scientists in the UK have proved that there’s good reason for film fans to be excited about the reopening of cinemas on Monday – the big screen experience is, scientifically, more exciting than watching movies on TV.

A team of scientists from the University of East Anglia, commissioned by nationwide cinema chain Showcase Cinemas, has conducted a biometric study to test how watching movies on the two mediums compared.

As bosses today report that numbers of pre-bookings for movies at Showcase Cinemas across the UK are up significantly versus July 2020, when the first lockdown ended, they have also revealed that a new biometric study that proves what we all knew – film fans are more excited by movies on the big screen.

Keith Lemon Proof

Keith Lemon at the 'Keith Lemon The Film' photocall Cannes. © Joe Alvarez 8191
Keith Lemon at the ‘Keith Lemon The Film’ photocall Cannes. © Joe Alvarez 8191

Scientists employed TV star Keith Lemon, a self-confessed movie aficionado, as a test subject and used state-of-the-art scientific monitoring equipment to measure his excitement levels when watching a film on the cinema big screen versus watching the same movie on a TV screen.

The in-depth study, carried out at Showcase Cinema de Lux Bluewater in Kent, concluded that not only do film fans find movies more exciting when watched on a large cinema screen but that those audiences are also less distracted and pay more attention to the movie when inside a cinema.

Keith Lemon as a guinea pig at the cinema

Dr Samuel Forbes, who led the University of East Anglia scientific team, said: “Through assessing Keith’s reactions in two conditions using eye-tracking, ECG and emotional coding, our observations were overall consistent with greater engagement and physiological reactivity when a film was viewed in a cinema than on a TV in a lounge. 

“The observations made during this demonstration indicate that people find watching a film in a cinema more engaging than on a TV.”

Keith Lemon was wired up and tested while watching the same film in both a Showcase cinema and in a living room TV set up on a 40” screen. 

The TV presenter wore special eye-tracking glasses to record where he was looking during the whole experiment, plus a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure heart rate variability. A video camera was also set up facing Keith to record his reactions, and his facial expressions were monitored using a special coding system which detects even the tiniest changes.

Fixation Point Heatmap. Eye gaze fixation ‘heatmaps’ in the Cinema (left) and TV (right) conditions

In the cinema, Keith’s heart rate was much more variable throughout the movie – illustrating that his excitement levels were far higher. The number of beats per minute fluctuated more strongly and frequently than when watching the same movie on TV, where his heart rate remained more stable and did not appear to change much in response to events in the film. The result was a significantly greater variability in heart rate in the cinema (9.5) versus watching the movie on the TV set (2.7).

Dr Forbes said: “Keith’s eyes were tracked in the same way when watching the film on the big and small screen. The measurements, using a heatmap, showed where his focus was concentrated at all times and indicated that he was more focused in the cinema. 

“The heatmap has a more dispersed pattern when he watched the TV, suggesting he was more distracted (looking around and not paying full attention to the movie), as opposed to the more concentrated pattern in the cinema condition, highlighting his greater focus on the big screen.

“Keith’s expressions also indicated more variability in the cinema. Keith showed a higher number of facial expressions (3.2 per minute) in the cinema than in when watching the movie on TV (2.6 per minute). 

“Keith showed a higher number of negative expressions, for example expressions that may indicate boredom, when watching the TV, where 71% of reactions were coded as negative.

“Keith also looked away from the TV screen 4 times but did not look away from the cinema screen at all and remained engaged with the film, even when reaching to eat popcorn.”

Mark Barlow, General Manager, Showcase Cinemas UK, said: “We wanted to truly test the power of the big screen versus watching a movie on a standard TV set. So, we employed a team of scientists to carry out a biometric study using our friend Keith Lemon as the subject.

“It’s great to see that science underlines what many of us who work in the industry already knew – that there is really nothing to compare to watching a film on the big screen. It’s more exciting in every sense, as this scientific study has shown.

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Keith Lemon at the 'Keith Lemon The Film' photocall Cannes. © Joe Alvarez 8191

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