The local cinema do not even consider screening this movie.

In the above sentence, "cinema" is employed to denote one or more of the staff who determine the programme.

My question is, does it work?

The doubt is whether the sentence sounds odd in the desired meaning. I rather think it does, and have failed to find analogous examples lying around.

I am using the term collective noun for lack of a better classification. If acceptable at all, one might argue for a synecdoche or a deferred reference in order to determine the figure of speech, but I am not quite sure about the classification of the noun.

  • This could likely work in BrE, but AmE would prefer singular agreement.
    – Robusto
    Sep 3, 2015 at 11:46
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    In British English I might say, 'The local cinema doesn't even consider screening this movie.' However I would be more likely to say, 'They don't even consider screening this movie at the local cinema.' Sep 3, 2015 at 11:53
  • My first guess upon reading that is that you meant "local cinema" as the 'local cinema scene', i.e. a collective noun for the various cinemas and associated people, periodicals, etc. So, I'd avoid the usage simply because of the ambiguity. Say "the staff of the local cinema" or the "programmer/program director" of it instead.
    – Cary C
    Sep 3, 2015 at 12:03
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    It's quite okay to qualify cinema as local - no different to, say, Unlike Hollywood, British cinema does not have a classical period for the gangster film. And it's just about okay to use a definite article to reference the local cinema collectively. I'm not so sure you can use this to specifically mean "the people who work in cinema locally" though. Like local radio, it means those institutions as a collective whole (or their output), not the staff working there. Sep 3, 2015 at 12:23
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    Using @Fumble’s local radio parallel as a starting point, the meaning intended here would work if we instead say the local radio station, which unambiguously refers to the ‘instantiated’ establishment, rather than the concept. This raises the question of why cinema, which is commonly used to refer to an establishment as well (and which doesn’t really have a clearer establishment equivalent), doesn’t work in the same way. Even more parallel is theatre, often used in the same sense: “The local theatre aren’t even considering this movie” works just fine! Sep 3, 2015 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


I think the comments here have become slightly bogged down with whether cinema takes a singular or a plural verb, which is not the question the OP asked.

Certainly cinema can exist as a collective noun e.g.

He is a student of 1940s' cinema. Cinema today is very different to that of my parent's generation. She is desperately trying to get into cinema. Cinema has taken over as the principal medium for that type of drama.

However, in the example you gave I would not immediately recognise local cinema as a collective noun. It sounds as if you are talking about the building at the end of the street. In that particular case I think I would use the plural cinemas if I wanted to get over the idea that all the cinemas in a locality had given the thumbs down to a particular film.

  • I may have misunderstood, but I thought the question was in fact specifically about whether cinema, as referring to the building at the end of the street, can take semantic agreement and be used with a plural verb to indicate not the building itself, but the people working in it. Sep 3, 2015 at 13:08
  • @JanusBahsJacquet That was certainly how Robusto, the first commenter saw it. But I took my cue from the title, which asked if it could be used as a collective noun.
    – WS2
    Sep 3, 2015 at 13:10
  • I agree that confuses the question, but I think the last paragraph in the body of the question makes it clear that that was just used for lack of a better term for a word that can take both syntactic and semantic agreement. Sep 3, 2015 at 13:14
  • If it sounds as if I'm talking about the building at the end of the street, that's great! because that is what I mean. Thanks for a lot of clarification.
    – anemone
    Sep 3, 2015 at 14:54

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