In many ways, going to the movies in Aberdeen is similar to going to the movies stateside. But in many ways, it's completely different. Here are a few of the differences:
1) First off, the candy. They have plenty of variety but all the classics are missing.
Sno-caps? Twizzlers? Gummy Bears? All replaced with quirky British brands that I had never heard of until moving here. Don’t tell anyone, but I usually smuggle in a ziplock of my favorite American treats. It just isn’t the movies without dark chocolate raisinettes.
2) The theater is equipped with a Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream shop, a pick’a’mix candy store, and a loaded bar. We usually stop for a drink before going in.
3)When ordering popcorn, you’re asked if you want it sweet or salty. I’m a sweet tooth, but Jonathan’s more of a salty snack kind of guy so we usually get a small of each, though they do offer a ‘mixed’ option.
4) You have preassigned seating. When you buy your ticket, you pick your seat. This is convenient when going to a huge blockbuster on opening day so that you don’t have to line up 2 hours early for a decent seat (ahem…stuck sitting in the front row for the midnight premier of Harry Potter because I drastically underestimated how many people were nerdier than me.)
However preassigned seating is inconvenient when: You are trying to see a movie with a big group. It usually leaves one person to buy all the tickets in bulk to make sure everyone is seated together and then having to deal with dolling out change when people try to pay them back with cash. There is no bill smaller than a 5 here in the UK so carrying around a lot of coins is just a hassle in general, but that’s another post entirely.
It’s also inconvenient because everyone wants to sit in certain rows which means you always have someone sitting to the side, front, and back of you, even though there may be completely acceptable rows which remain basically empty. It's disconcerting to an American's concept of personal space.
Also, the seating chart is usually misleading. When we went to see The Hobbit, I picked what I thought was the 3rd row from the back. Turns out I actually had us seated in the 5th row. Not ideal.
5) When the movie says it starts at 8, you can expect the opening credits to roll at about 8:40. This is when pre-assigned seating comes in handy because you can roll in 30 minutes 'late' and have your ideal seat saved just in time for the film.
6) The previews are usually for movies that have already come out on DVD in the US.
7) You can join the Cineworld club for the price of two movie tickets a month, which grants unlimited access into films and 10% off of refreshments. It’s quite a good deal.
I hope you enjoyed this snapshot into everyday Scottish life. I usually find that my biggest culture shock moments come when something appears to be so similar to what I grew up with but turns out to be a completely different experience. On the surface, going to the movies looks identical in both countries, but the subtle differences are glaring to me.
The UK is loaded with these subtle differences which trip me up in daily life. Some days I find it humorous, some days I find it interesting, and some days I find it infuriating. That’s expat life for you. Any other expats know what I'm talking about? The hardest adjustments are to those things that are just slightly off from your native culture because it catches you off guard.
Oh, and if I had to describe The Hobbit in one word it would be: Long. Two words? Obnoxiously long. 2.8 hours plus 40 minutes of previews. Ain’t nobody got time for that.