Movie Experience in Germany
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’
June 3, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
To answer you dubbing question: Depends. Usually they use a different voice actor for one of the stars for this one movie, but there are voice actors who do speak different depending on which role they have…in this case it might work to use the same, especially if the movie actors in question don’t share many scenes.
Popcorn without a Microwave » Grounded Traveler
May 1, 2012 @ 11:29 am
[…] popcorn. I don’t mind caramel corn or the like, but to sprinkle sugar instead of salt on a movie style big bowl of it, seems wrong. I am definitely in the salt and butter category. Even microwave […]
November 25, 2011 @ 12:38 pm
this made me laughed! because actually, while living in Canada, I had a post like that in mind … things I meant to complain about were:
– no seats assigned so that you have to go to the theatre long before the movie opens to get in line, so that you’ll get a good spot
– the salty popcorn
i got used to both, though, I still prefer the German way. as for the dubbing: freiburg is particularly bad with that, in a bigger city like Hamburg, there will be usually at least 2 or 3 cinemas that show most of the films OV. i hate that about freiburg! I get the impression, it is improving though. if I see that a movie is shown in OV I always go there, to support this notion and have more (I hate dubbing, also, I would never watch Friends in German. I dont think I ever did, actually). You should try the aka, though. They show 99% OV and it’s cheap. http://www.aka-filmclub.de/ It’s msotly for students, but Im sure theyll make an exception when you tell them, you’re American.
as for the ice cream break: i remeber, when I was yougner, there was always someone to sell the ice cream and lots of people bought. Now it is dieing. I don’t know why, but it makes me sad :/
November 25, 2011 @ 1:10 pm
Thanks again. We were having this discussion about salty versus sweet popcorn just the other day. Seems you like what you grow up with. As for the seats, I do enjoy knowing what seat I got.
I know of aka, but I get the idea that it is mostly artsy things and not the latest run of movies. If I want to see something I’ll usually buy the DVD for about the price of one ticket and the OV is always there.
Welcome to Freiburg. 🙂 It is a nice place despite the lack of OV movies. Kandelhof runs OV some. Friedrichshof (KaJo below Martinstor) and Harmonie sometimes too.
January 8, 2011 @ 1:51 pm
I love going to the movies in Germany. Actually my favorite movie theater is located in Germany, it’s called Schauburg and it’s in Karlsruhe. Very good selection, mostly independent films from around the globe, but nothing too artsy. Just discovering movie theaters in Berlin right now, have only been to the one am Alexanderplatz so far.
January 8, 2011 @ 6:49 pm
Karlsruhe has some great movie theaters. I like the one at ZKM (think those are the right letters.) Oh for Berlin, definitely check out Potsdamer Platz. It has like 3 theaters and some really amazing architecture.
I like movies too, I just wish more of them in Germany were original language with subtitles. Even though I can understand the German, it is disconcerting to hear it dubbed.
November 1, 2010 @ 2:17 pm
thank you for your description, I visted my wife and kids in July ( I am moving to join them in dec) and when I was there we went to Berlin to see Toy Story 3 in english, and it was just like you said. My wife said the day before that she had to call and order tickets so that we would get good seats. I thought that was crazy, then once there she said I had to decide if I wanted salted or surgar popcorn I was like are you serious? Then I was really sad to see that there was no butter dispenser to add butter to the popcorn, very different experiance. I can tell you though that in America, much like Germany they haarted adding ads in addition to the previews of other movies, but we still dont have ice cream breaks LOL.
November 2, 2010 @ 7:04 am
You’re welcome, thanks for the comment.
Wow, I certainly remember salt and butter popcorn in the US, but nothing like an extra dispenser for you to add extra yourself. I’ve tried the sugar popcorn and it’s ok; but really not what I want when I’m watching a movie.
October 31, 2010 @ 7:39 am
Our little theater in our village only has two screens – one upstairs and one on the main level, and they don’t always assign seats or show a lot of ads – it’s nice. The seat assignment thing is something to get used to! The big theater in Frankfurt that shows OV movies is more like you described. I love going to movies anywhere – U.S. or Germany. And I totally dig the beer thing, too!
November 2, 2010 @ 7:02 am
Wow village theater sounds cool. Do they show English there?
I like the seat assigning. It means a little negotiating with the ticket agent, but then you can show up whenever and get good seats. No getting there early for seats and 20 minutes of extra pre-ads ads.
October 30, 2010 @ 1:37 pm
None of the theaters I’ve gone to in Hamburg actually sell ice cream during the ice cream break, but they make the break anyway after the ads — the curtains close, the lights come back on and everything — but alas, no ice cream. Which makes me wonder why they do it the first place if they’re not even going to serve ice cream. 😉 Tradition, I’m guessing.
November 2, 2010 @ 7:01 am
Do you go to German language showings? Like I commented above, I don’t see him often; but I have seen it. Not just the lights on part.
Expat in Germany by Laurel
October 29, 2010 @ 7:17 pm
I love going to movies in Germany, especially when I just want to get away from it all. I’m jealous though, they don’t have ice cream or butter for popcorn at the English theatre in Stuttgart 🙂 I also had no idea that they used the same actor when dubbing in movies, very interesting! I have to agree with you about some of the voice choices though and I agree that Rachel on friends is one of the worst, but good for a laugh!
November 2, 2010 @ 7:00 am
I don’t see the ice cream guy very often either, but I have seen them do it every so often. I’m totally jealous of an English Theatre in Stuttgart. Maybe they do the Ice cream here more in german language showings, which I rarely go to.