Topic: A Foreign Cinema Experience
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: May 2003
posted February 18, 2008 10:58 PM
I have recently returned from my fifth trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands and I thought Cinematour members might like to read what it's like to see a film in a typical, modern Dutch megaplex.
Theater: Pathe Du Munt. 16 screens. Opened in 2001. All theaters equipped with digital sound (unspecified, but most likely Dolby Digital).
Pathe is the dominant chain in the Netherlands, and this complex looks very much like an American megaplex. But there are many differences in the details.
The box office: Tickets cost 6.50 Euros (approximately $9.10) which is quite reasonable, considering that nearly everything else is horribly expensive with our weak dollar. A unique feature of the box office is the electronic listing of number of seats remaining for each specific showtime of each film showing. I thought this was a great idea, and American chains should adapt the system to enhance the customer experience.
The Consession Stand: It's certainly there, but on a much smaller scale. While a typical Regal or AMC might have a large stand with 10 or 12 registers, the Pathe concession stand had only four registers. There are two kinds of popcorn (pre-popped by an outside company): Salty and sweet (kind of like kettle corn but without the slightly salty taste). Butter or butter-like topping is not offered. Similar sizes (small, med and large) are sold.
Coke products were offered but with only regular Coke, Diet Coke, and Orange Fanta as choices, again served in three similar-sized portions. If you want ice, you better speak up, otherwise you won't get any. And when you request ice, you'll get two cubes, no more...no less. My cashier explained to me that they provide ice for Americans as the Dutch don't want to water down their Cokes.
Candy selection is relatively small. Since my previous visit, Pathe has added Nachos to the menu. Of course I had to try them out. The verdict: needs work. The tortilla chips were scooped out of a large unheated bag and the "cheese" was unheated as well. On the plus side, the "cheese" tasted much more like real cheese and had a pleasantly sharp, tangy flavor.
Finally, beer is offered (Grolsch, a Dutch beer) in 12 oz bottles, and they allow you to take the bottle into the theater with you. You are requested to take your empties out of the theater at the end of the film and place them in bottle return bins located all over the multi-story lobby. The bottles come equipped with their own attached bottle openers, another unique feature.
All concession prices are similar to those in the USA.
The actual cinema: Cinema #8 seats about 140 with stadium seating, though not nearly as steep. The seats were extremely comfortable and plush with double-wide armrests. The screen was quite large for the size of the cinema and uses side masking, a big plus. Sound was crisp and clear, not too loud but not too soft.
The booth uses a single projector but instead of using platters, the individual reels of film are spliced together onto one very lage reel. The projectionist (who seemed delighted that I was taking such interest in his operation) told me that it's a better system than using platters, with much less of a chance of damaging the film. I don't know if this is true as I'm not a projectionist, but it sounded good. By the way, the booth was spotless.
There are adverstisements (slides and film) and I'm sure I would be annoyed with them if I was Dutch, but since the ads were of different products, and I hadn't been exposed to them before, I found them interesting. Something that is very unique and annoying in Dutch cinemas is the forced intermission. No matter the length of a film, be it 90 or 180 minutes, the projectionist will arbitrarily shut down the projector and turn up the lights for an intermission, often in an inappropriate time in the film. For the film I saw, this happened 62 minutes into a 100 minute film. The intermission was 15 minutes long (excessive since there were only about 40 people in attendance).
Unfortunately, the Dutch have appeared to pick up the bad habits of Americans. Even with the small attendance, there were numerous cell phones ringing and some were texting. Also, the Dutch love to talk during the film just as much as we do.
By no means is this representative of the typical film-going experience in Europe (for example, theaters in Spain force you to exit out of the theater using the side exits near the screens). I'm sure all countries have their eccentricities when it comes to cinemas...
Which is why I always make sure to check out at least one cinema during my international travels. The end result is the same, but the fun is in the little details.
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