Let’s all go to the lobby and get ourselves some snacks!

I promised this post a long time ago, like right after Christmas. But I never wrote the post and then I felt stupid going back to an idea that was several weeks, and then several months old. But then I got a chance to have the same experience again, and since that experience is fresh in my mind, here comes the long-delayed musings on THE MOVIE THEATRE IN SPAIN!!!

As of currently, I have seen 2 movies in the movie theatre here in Spain. One was back in December when I went to visit my friend who is living in Rota. We went with her Spanish coworker to see the Justin Timberlake movie In Time. It was definitely a second choice (I wanted to see Puss In Boots, but it wasn’t in theatres anymore) but to tell you the truth I just really wanted the experience of seeing a movie in Spanish, no subtitles. The second movie was last Saturday, when I went to the mall in Jerez and saw The Muppets (also a second choice. I wanted to see The Hunger Games but we get most movies several weeks to months later than in America. I was hoping for an exception but no luck).

Things that are (or can be) the same between movie experiences in the US and in Spain:

  • Stadium seating. The theatre in Jerez was pretty nice. The seats were comfortable and it was easy to see. The theatre in Rota didn’t have stadium seating, though, as it was a little older.
  • Really enormous (and enormously priced) concession snacks. I was actually surprised to find this similarity because Spain doesn’t really do the whole “super size” thing. When you order a Fanta Limón in a restaurant, you get a 12-ounce bottle of Fanta Limón, and if you want another, you buy another. Also, the maximum price is one euro, and often cheaper. But at the theatre in Jerez, I ordered a medium Fanta Limón, which was probably 32 to 48 ounces (there was no small size), and it cost me 2.90. I had gotten so used to portion-sized sodas since being here that I couldn’t even finish the whole thing, and by the end of the movie, I felt like I had corn syrup running through my veins.

Things that are (or can be) different between movie experiences in the US and in Spain:

  • In Spain, when the movie says it is going to start at a certain time, that’s when it STARTS. At the theatre in Rota, we settled down into our chairs at 9:58, and at 10:00 the movie started rolling. And I don’t mean previews either, at 10:00 pm the film studio’s logo flashed up on the screen, followed by the opening credits. It was kind of nice, to be honest. At the theatre in Jerez, though, we got one commercial and 2 previews, plus a little pre-movie cartoon with the Toy Story characters (did you guys get that in America too before The Muppets?)
  • Speaking of seats, I had an assigned seat for The Muppets. It was kind of wild, to tell you the truth! I didn’t really know what the woman at the ticket booth was talking about when she asked me if the 6th row was ok, but then she turned her computer console to show me the seating layout of the theatre. I was in seat F2, for those who were wondering. Rota didn’t have assigned seats though.
  • In Spain there is a conspicuous lack of warnings when you go to the movies. At neither theatre did I see an “In the event of an emergency” announcement, and the previews I saw in Jerez weren’t preceded by any information on the appropriateness of the preview or the movie, like they are in America. The movie posters themselves don’t have ratings on them either, and only at the ticket office do you see guidelines. These guidelines are “Apta para todos públicos” (which is like the US’s G rating), “No recomendado para menores de 7” (which is PG), and “No recomendado para menores de 17” (which is R).
  • The names of the movies themselves. The movies I went to don’t really illustrate this, because “The Muppets” is “Los Muppets”, and “In Time” was “In Time”. It is just as common to have an exact translation (“La Dama de Hierro” for “The Iron Lady”) as it is to have a name that fits the spirit of the movie, but not its original name (“Un Lugar Para Soñar” [A Place to Dream] for “We Bought A Zoo”). Sometimes though the name is so off-base that you wonder where it came from. I reference the Steigg Larson trilogy; “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was in theatres here this past winter. Except it wasn’t called that, it was called “Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres” [The Men Who Didn’t Love Women]. This is also a problem with the books because that’s where the titles come from: books 2 and 3 are called “La chica que soñaba con una cerilla y un bidón de gasolina” [The Girl Who Dreamed Of A Match and A Can of Gasoline] and “La reina en el palacio de las corrientes de aire” [The Queen in the Palace of Air Currents], respectively.
  • The language! Movies here are dubbed into Spanish by Spanish voice actors, which means that after the credits, there is another set of credits letting you know who voiced whom. I didn’t have problems following the Spanish either time, which was nice, but I’m still not getting every single word. It was worse in December; when we discussed the movie afterwards, I was explaining some of the plot points to my friend, but my friend’s Spanish coworker had to explain some things to me that I had missed. With the Muppets, I only missed maybe one or two jokes, and I think that was because I was spending too much time trying to decide what the joke had originally been in English, because there was no way the translations could have been exact. Example: One of Fozzie’s jokes was “Why do they call it a store (una tienda)? Because there are always people there to assist (atienden) you!” Clearly that wasn’t the original joke and you can’t really lip-read Muppets, so while I was puzzling it out, I missed entirely one of Statler and Waldorf’s heckles. In the Muppets all of the songs were translated as well, except for two popular songs that were in English, one of which I legitimately didn’t recognize until it was almost over. After 90 minutes of Spanish, I couldn’t understand why the Muppets were all of a sudden singing “Hello” instead of “Hola”, and I couldn’t really understand the rest of the song – what were they saying, “entertain us”? Only after a character remarked (in Spanish) “You’re ruining one of the greatest songs in the history of rock!” that I thought, “Wait, do I already know this song???” 5 seconds before they finished I realized – “Smells Like Teen Spirit!!!” I felt like my adult English students, who hear the words “in the world” and ask me, “What are they saying? Inner wool?”

Fewer commercials and lack of warnings-creep, but still serving you a vat of popcorn big enough to swim in? I can get behind that, Spanish movies.


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