Sunday, November 27, 2005

Let's ALL go to the MOVIES

"I tot I saw a boy wizard!"
Emily and I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire yesterday afternoon. The movie theater where we saw it is very close; it is in the same building as SATY, which is right across the street from our apartment. I recently found out that "SATY" is the name of an enterprising Japanese family from Nagoya that has built a series of shopping centers in secondary urban centers. You can see just how close it is from the picture on the right; the picture was taken from our second-floor balcony (without the use of a zoom lense).

Actually from looking at these pictures, it looks like the side entrance of SATY is closer to our front door than it is the the front entrance of SATY.

(By the way, don't think that we're not DIE HARD Harry Potter fans. The movie was released in Japan a week after it was released in America. We saw it as soon as humanly possible.)

The name of the theater is Warner Mycal Theaters. If that sounds familiar, it is because it is. The Warner comes from Warner Brothers and the whole theater is decked out with Looney Tunes characters. I don't know where the Mycal part comes from, but I assume it is some type of Japanese partnership.

Going to the movies is quite an experience in Japan and it has sublte differences from going to see a movie in America. For example, before you even go see an AMERICAN movie in Japan, you have to decide if you want to watch it with Japanese subtitles (jimaku) or with Japanese dubbing (fukikae). Since my Japanese is limited to "I'd like two beers, please" (biru ga nihon onegai shimasu), we opted for the jimaku.

I walked up to the ticket window and grunted something that sounded like, "HARII PO-TA, zyu-ichi ji, ni, onegai shimasu (insert grunts, umms, ahhs, and errs where appropriate)" and handed over a fistful of cash.

If only if it were that easy. The cashier rambled off a few phrases that completely went over my head and I responded with my favorite phrase, "sumimasen, wakarimasen."

"Ah...", she responded, and whipped out a seating chart of the whole theatre.

Gotcha. Assigned seating. Japanese movies have assigned seating.

We just pointed at two seats somewhere in the middle of the theater and handed over more cash. Apparently the tickets cost 1700 Yen and not the 1200 Yen we had thought. Oh well, its just monopoly money anyways, right?

Some things in Japan are so similar to things in America, but so many things are so different. The snack stand was EXACTLY like the snack stand you would see in any American movie theater. They sold soda, hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos. You even have the option to get your drink in a commemorative King Kong cup.

Walking into the theater was completely different from America though. It was like boarding an airplane. A guy (or girl) in a sky blue uniform stands behind a podium in the middle of the lobby and announces that your theater is loading (boarding) patrons (passengers). Then you walk over to the entrance and hand him your ticket and he hands you back your stub.

The inside of the theater was spotless. That whole sticky movie floor thing does in no way exist in Japan. They made it clear that they intended to keep it that way, too. The slide show that was playing on the screen had NOT SO SUBTLE reminders that outdoor food was not allowed. Though that didn't stop Emily from chugging a liter bottle of Diet Pepsi and chomping on a giant apple throughout the movie.

We were subjected to 30 minutes of Bugs Bunny telling us not to talk during the movie in Japanese AND previews for every movie coming out in the next decade before our movie started.

The movie was amazing, but of course the book was better.

I giggled when nobody got up when the credits started to roll. I think it was because the Japanese didn't know the movie was over.

As we exited the theater, there was an attendant collecting everyone's garbage. Remember, we have to keep everything clean!

It was fun going to see an American movie with a theater full of Japanese, but I don't think I'll be doing it again any time soon. 1700 Yen for a movie is kind of a steep price to pay AND Hollywood movies just aren't that good.


Paul Dowling said...

Sorry mate, great, great site but like most people who come from small, insular islands, i feel very protective of my country. Harry Potter is a British Film with almost an entirely British cast. It's just not fair when America, having it's own abundant film industry, claims films from elsewhere as there own.

Sorry, i get a bit obsessive about these sort of things.

Keep up the good blogging though.

Saipan Chamoale said...

You're crushing my delusion that America is the center of the universe!