I Saw The Hunger Games Last Night, But This Post is About My First Movie Experience in Europe

So, last night I got to go see The Hunger Games. I know, it came out here before in the States? That is crazy talk! Especially because we tend to only get movies in the bioscoop after they are already on DVD in America. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was being a full on Hunger Games fan to be able to see it in theaters before my friends back home. 

In the States, I was a huge movie goer, you could find me at many a midnight showings or at a matinee with my mom on Sundays. I guess I was expecting an experience akin to what is in America. After all, unlike most European countries, The Netherlands just adds subtitles to the films instead of dubbing them. I am a big fan of this, I hate dubbed films. With that in mind, I began bugging Loek weeks in advance to book our tickets. Because, in the US, if it is a big premiere, you have to get them early. Finally on Sunday, I decided to try to book them myself. I went to the website, requested 2 tickets, had to send in a text and got back my reservation code to my phone. I didn't have to pay for the tickets to reserve them. Already, that was different then America. 

Finally, the big day came! I stopped by the theater at 12:10 to pick up my tickets because, I just wanted to make sure nothing had gone wrong with the reservation. The box office wasn't even open yet because matinees are apparently something the Dutch do not do! So, I went and had sushi with my friend Sandy. (Another Nederland first) After lunch I went back and was finally able to get my tickets. The lady looked at me like I was a crazed American for picking up my tickets 5 hours early. I spent the rest of the afternoon with my expat friend Alison, having a drink in a cafe outside because it was beautiful here! I headed back to the hoog catharijne (our mall) because that was one of the two theaters in Utrecht that was playing The Hunger Games. There are I think 5 movie theaters in the city of Utrecht. Our showing was at 6:30 so I went to McDonalds where Loek was supposed to meet me for a quick bite before the film. I had already eaten my food and was waiting for Loek when a mouse ran into my foot. At first, I didn't register what had happened. But I looked down from my seat and there was a little scared looking mouse staring up at me. Some guys saw it too but no one said anything. I just picked my feet up and put them on the chair while I was waiting for Loek. So, very different than how patrons would act in America.

Anyways, Loek and I finally went into the theater at 6:15. We had to climb up some typical dutch stairs, (steep and windy) to get to our theater. I was shocked to find a room slightly bigger than our apartment's living room with about 10 rows of seats. Big, plush, red velvet seats with no cup holder. The screen itself was about 2 1/2 meters wide. About the size of a nicer home theater in The States. I was not amused at all. I mean, I had paid 18 Euros for the two of us to see the biggest movie of the year in the smallest theater I have ever been in! I can honestly say this was the first time I told Loek something was better in America. The small theater wasn't even filled up with people! 

Before the film, they showed some news clips for the day, the way I have seen that films back during WW2 in the US used to do. Then they showed two trailers which everyone talked through. No new Twilight trailer like I was expecting. Finally, the film started and I noticed that the film was nowhere near as loud as it would be in the States, in fact at times I had trouble hearing it and had to read the Dutch subtitles. (Not that I needed to for the plot, I've read the books). I don't think this has anything to do with the film, just the non-surround sound of the theater. So, the film is rolling along, it is really good, they did a superb job. When all of a sudden during a crucial action screen, the film stops. I am silently freaking out, I thought the projector broke and I was about to have a cow. Loek just looked at me and asked if I wanted anything during intermission. Huh? Apparently the films have intermissions here so people can buy more stuff. So, while Loek went to go get a coke, I was able to answer some questions that the girls sitting next to us had. "Was her last name Everdeen or Evergreen?" I noticed that most around us had switched to speaking in English during intermission. Maybe so they wouldn't have to switch their brain back when the film started, I don't know? Finally, the film abruptly started again, right in the middle of said crucial scene, and it was hard to automatically be sucked back into it. 

As you can see, the experience was quite different than going in the US. Now that I have gone, I can say that I don't regret going to go see The Hunger Games the day it came out in theaters. I mean, it was The Hunger Games, and anyone who has talked to me in the last month has known how excited I was for the movie. But, I don't think that going to the movies will become a habit like it was in America. I mean, the price of the ticket did not match how much bigger the screen would be than the one I have at home for a film that I wasn't so invested in! Loek says that we managed to be in the smallest theater they have here in Utrecht, so I might try my luck at a different theater for the Avengers. 

As for The Hunger Games, I loved it! So, did Loek for that matter and he wouldn't watch a trailer for it or listen to me when I tried to explain the plot to him. He was really just going to make me happy, but now I think we both can't wait for the next one! Go see it! 

And May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor! 






Not every cinema in Holland does this. At least not so much in the big cities though. It is strange when it does happen though. I had it happen during Finding Nemo once.

The old, tiny cinemas that Utrecht has are nothing compared to the bigger ones you can find around the country, for instance Amsterdam's Pathe ArenA, which is conventiely located next to the Amsterdam ArenA railway station, only 15 minutes from Utrecht Centraal by train. Quite a different experience! 
There are plans for the construction of an 18-screen mega-cinema-complex in Utrecht next to Jaarbeurs (near the central station) but it will take some time for this to be developed

Thanks for the heads up! I had no idea about the megabioscoop!
Admittedly, I've been a bit spoiled. Movies are big business in my former neck of the woods. The smaller theaters were 18-screens and my local one had 36 plus two IMAX screens. (probably not your typical American experience either) 
I understand that here in The Netherlands, space is at a premium. It was just a completely different experience than what I am used to. Plus, since I am currently without a job, I have to weigh the financial aspects of everything. I waited six months after I moved to go to a movie because I really cared about seeing the Hunger Games on the big screen. I'll have to keep the ArenA in mind when it is time for The Dark Knight Rises to come out! 
Thanks so much for the comment! 

With hoog Catharijne you probably picked the worst theater in Utrecht. I try to go only to City-Movies on the Voorstraat, Rembrandt on the Oude Gracht or Louis-Hartlooper on Ledig Erf for the artsy movies.

If only I had this knowledge sooner! But, there were only two theaters playing the movie last Wednesday and I had to see it opening day. Hoog Cathaijne was just at a more convenient time.