Movies Abroad: A Dive into International Movie Theaters and Culture

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After devouring several sauerkrauts and liters of Hofbräuhaus beer at Oktoberfest, I had earned a quiet, calm weekend. I would eventually earn another quiet weekend that I would fill with one of my favorite hobbies: going to the movies. 

Prior to crossing the pond to study in Luxembourg, I waited in anticipation for two films: It: Chapter Two and Todd Phillip’s Joker. I knew I was going to face some struggles to see these films due to language barriers and the low amount of theaters compared to the United States. But I wasn’t expecting the same level of advertising for these films as in the states. During my travels to Amsterdam, bus stop walls became filled with posters of the eerie red-balloon being held by a clown hand that disappeared into darkness. Joker poster’s filled with Joaquin Phoenix’s clown face lined the walls in the subways of Paris. With Chapter Two’s stellar cast and a new adaptation of Batman’s arch-villain, I had to find a theater. Thankfully, other students had the same desire as me, and we embarked into the Belval Kinepolis, a theater conveniently built right by the train station for easy transport. 

The first difference I noticed compared to American theaters was that there was no door man/woman accepting tickets. You could walk into any theater without anyone checking that you’d paid. My companions and I stood around in the lobby waiting for someone to ask for our tickets, but the question never came. It eventually came after we’d retrieved our movie treats and were halfway through the previews. We noticed a staff member walking up and down the rows, asking for tickets. After a quick glance, they left. We asked ourselves whether this was the best tactic for checking tickets, and concluded that it just wasn’t. Someone could’ve waited in the bathroom until their friend signalled once the worker was gone. Plus, you could see the struggle of the worker wiggling past legs, grabbing phones for electronic tickets, holding a flashlight to read paper tickets, all while the previews were running. And you can’t miss the previews. 

The snack section was also off because you were able to grab all your snacks yourself. But the strangest part was the below-average popcorn. The popcorn was displayed in a fancy bag in a warm pantry, waiting to be grabbed. Well, the lights made it seem warm, but that popcorn had to be sitting there for a while. It ruined the experience of popcorn at the theater, and I threw it away half-full on my way out. 

Unfortunately, the seats did not recline all the way, practically into a bed, like they do at home. But I had a good seat where it would have been overkill if I was horizontal. Also, the French and German subtitles across the bottom of the screen was a tad bit annoying. But it drew my attention towards attendance; the whole theater was packed. The language barrier had been crossed and people wanted to see the final chapter of a fear-hungry clown or a psychopathic clown. Overall, it was a good experience that fulfilled my desire for film.  

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