Living in Paradise

Movie Theaters Abroad

Have you been to the movies lately? A lot of you who live in the United States probably haven’t. Or, maybe you go for a night out at the cinema a lot less often than you used to. And who can blame you, with nearly-$12 movie ticket prices, popcorn that costs $8 for a small, crowds fighting for seats, dirty theaters, and nonstop audience talking and phone use.

Movie Theaters AbroadIn fact, break it down and the average night at the movies for a family of four may cost $75 or so! You can pay for your Netflix subscription for eight months for that same amount!

Speaking of Netflix, it’s no surprise that many people are opting to stay home and watch their favorite shows, series, and movies on Netflix, Hulu, or any of the other Internet-based services that re rapidly replacing cable TV – and movie nights out.

But movies are still a thriving business outside of the U.S., and the experience of visiting a cinema in foreign countries is often far more enjoyable, comfortable, and more affordable than seeing the same movies in the U.S.!

For instance, I went to see the new hit Marvel movie Black Panther here in Thailand last night, so I’ll tell you a little about the theater experience.

Most movie theaters abroad aren’t stand-alone businesses that are in the middle of immense parking lots, but at the top floor of the high-end malls. They have only one entrance, which is usually surrounded by food shops and other kiosks.

Instead of walking up and buying a ticket and heading in to look for a seat, it’s also far more civilized because you walk up and pay but then actually pick out your seat right on their computer screen. So, just like getting a designated seat at a concert or sporting event in the U.S., it’s not general admission seating. That way, you’re also not rushing to get in or fighting crowds for a group of seats that are together.

Most of these cinemas also usually feature the top hit movies that are playing in America now (or maybe a few weeks later), but also a few local movies from that home country. That way, there’s something to appeal to both locals and foreigners.

Of course, the language would be a big problem, but most cinemas have moved away from dubbed movies to the traditional subtitle format again, so any Thai person can watch a Hollywood movie and follow along by reading the subtitles, or vice versa.

The movie snack bars are also a point of entertainment, as you’ll find some seriously weird stuff! In fact, they usually don’t have just normal buttered popcorn but a variety of flavors like BBQ, cheese, and caramel. You’ll also find hot dogs, ice cream, tacos, noodles, sushi, and about every other local cuisine at some snack bars around the world. Oh, and they also serve beer at most movie theater snack bars! Bonus!

Inside the theaters, you’ll find that they’re far more spacious, comfortable and clean than U.S. theaters. That’s because going to the movies is far more of a luxury experience for middle-class or wealthy patrons, not an entertainment venue for the average person.

But they still have plenty of trailers for movies and PSAs before the film starts – many of which are pretty funny or wild. Here in Thailand, they also have a one-minute video clip paying homage to the current King of Thailand, and everyone in the theater stands in observance as we might do for the national anthem.

The seats were so big and puffy that it was hard not to fall asleep during the movie, but it was a great time, and I love seeing Marvel films around the world because they’re universally loved. Oh, and all of this was for the price of about $5 for a ticket – not $12!  So hey, for us travel bloggers, we actually do go to the movies once in awhile!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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