As an expat you have to deal with a lot of differences, some of them are big like language, some of them small like not having your favorite brand of cheese. Some things are just, well, different. Not big or small, good or really bad, just things that make you go “yup typically local”. I find the whole movie experience one of these things here in Germany. Movies are still wildly popular and basically the same as in the States, but still a number of “huh” things.
We get the same movies as in the US. Often with no more than a few weeks delay. Then add a few German and French films. Clusters of teenagers can be seen on a Friday night around the theater, so that too is much the same. But there are indeed differences.
Yup, as you would expect in a German speaking country, most movies are indeed in German. The dubbing industry here is quite developed. Specific German voice actors are assigned to specific foreign actors I’m told. So that the German “spoken” by Bruce Willis in one movie will be the same in a different movie with him. This is not to say necessarily that the same German voice won’t be both for him and Johnny Depp. So I have no clue what happens if they end up in the same movie. A very overworked voice actor I expect.
The dubbing industry is very active in TV programs as well. Although sometimes the matches aren’t very good. Watching Friends in German is painful. Very painful, as Rachel has a fairly deep voice for a woman.
Now I have no idea what voice actors go with what English speaking actor. I can’t tell the voices apart anyway. Anyway, I don’t go to dubbed movies unless I have little choice. I remember them playing far more subtitled movies years ago, but I don’t see it so much anymore. And I imagine in bigger cities, heck in Basel, Switzerland just an hour out, the number of times a week they will play Originalton (or Originalfassung) is decent. Here in Freiburg, I am lucky to get one showing a week somewhere in town of a first run movie. I will go see cartoons in German, when the visual/audio of the actor doesn’t bug me.
Physically things are almost identical to the multiplex I remember as a kid. The big difference is likely that the place will be many stories with a few theaters per level rather than a sprawling building surrounded by a parking lot.
One of those typically German things, when you buy your ticket you are assigned a seat. So the guy at the ticket booth may ask you where you want to be. Note, they will also charge more for the back half of the theater (called the Loge). Because of the seats, it seems much more common to go in early hours or even a few days to buy tickets. I bought a set of 8 Avatar tickets 3 days ahead for the English and still ended up being forced nearly front row.
Movies much longer than 2 hours can also add a fee. Though these will almost always have an intermission. This is nice if you went for the jumbo drink at the beginning.
Eats are still a big part of the money making movie machine here. Popcorn is widely popular. Although often prepopped and cool. Also ask if it is sweet (süss) or salty(salzig), as most that I have seen is sweet. I have to have butter and salt so I avoid that. Pizza, nachos and other things are normal. The other difference I’ve seen is the candy. In addition to the standard oversized bars, several of the theaters here have a bulk candy display. You shovel it into a little bag and pay by the 100gram.
This being Germany beer is of course an option, and one I quite enjoy. It goes really well with it, when I can find salty popcorn.
Advertisements: Ice Cream anyone?
Instead of “let’s all go to the lobby,” the theaters have an actual ice cream pause in the ads. Just after an ice cream ad, the lights will come on and an attendant will walk around with a basket full of icecream bars to sell. Like at a ball game, but this is in the movie theater. The lights stay on until he has served everyone who wants to buy and then wishes you a good movie before leaving. Only then do the movie ads begin.
Yup, lots of ads. I haven’t seen a movie in the States for over 3 years, so it could be just as many there. Here however you get different kinds of ads. In addition to the very standard multiple previews of upcoming shows, there are normal corporate ads. I have seen big corporations and such have pre-movie ads. Because sitting in a movie on a Saturday makes me think about my corporate communication needs. How about you?
Cigarette ads as well as the soda and ice cream ads are also typical. It bugged me the first few times seeing a cigarette ad, since they have been so long banned in the US. Now, I just ignore it.
Still worth it?
Yup, I still like going to the movies here. Buying a ticket early with an assigned seat is great, so I can usually slip in late and skip a bulk of the advertisements. I look for English showings of things and try to get a group of my expat friends to go. So while I don’t go to as many as I used it, I still enjoy it.
More Expat ramblings can be found at my Guest Post on BudgetTravelIntentions.
And because I never had the forsight to photograph a movie theater before, picture from Creative Commons. Flickr ‘y entonces’