Unfortunately, the trip isn't so smooth sailing. You find yourself queueing in a line that snakes all the way to the entrance. You find yourself paying for a ticket that's priced at least 10% more than usual. And you end up with an overpriced set meal that you could've gotten for cheaper (and better!) somewhere else.
Frustrating, isn't it? The bad news is, these hiccups are all-too-common when you watch movies in Manila. The good news is, those same hiccups can be avoided — provided you follow the tips below.
Read (spoiler-free) reviews of the movie beforehand.
Usually, movies in the Philippines cost between Php200 to 300 (US$4 to 6). Since that price applies to only one ticket per showing, you might as well make sure you get what you pay for, right?
Before you go see a movie, look up online reviews for it. Pick the ones tagged "spoiler-free," or at least tell you which paragraphs have spoilers, and which don't. If the review is too positive or too negative, take it with a grain of salt. All movies — even the Oscar-worthy ones — have their good and bad points, so choose reviews that provide a balanced view of the movie.
Book your ticket ahead of time, if possible.
Most theaters in Manila allow you to book your seats beforehand. For example, at Glorietta and Greenbelt, you can buy or reserve your tickets via SureSeats.com. While buying a ticket requires you to use a credit card, reserving a ticket requires you to show up at the theater at least 45 minutes before show time. (Otherwise, your slot will be forfeited, and your SureSeats account will be suspended). Either way, you'll be prioritized over moviegoers who buy their tickets on the spot.
Watch a movie one or two weeks after the premiere date.
It's hard not to watch a movie as soon as it comes out, especially if it's a blockbuster. After all, your film-loving friends will want to talk about said movie, and you will want to keep up with their conversations. But if you want to avoid long lines and pricey tickets, steer clear of the first week after the premiere date. Your stress levels and wallet will thank you for it.
Buy your food at a place other than the movie snack bar.
Unless you absolutely have to, avoid buying food from the designated "snack bars" near the theater. These bars tend to charge premium for their wares, and if you've already dished out extra pesos for a 3D/4DX movie experience, why pay more for a bag of chips you can get for 20% less somewhere else? As long as your food isn't smelly, or doesn't make a lot of noise when you eat it, you should be fine.
Check what kind of theater you're entering.
By default, movie theaters in the Philippines are in 2D mode. Unless a cinema is specifically marked "3D," "4DX" or what-have-you, assume it's in 2D. You should also assume that if a theater has extra features, you'll have to pay extra as well.
Watch the movie with someone else.
You know when you absolutely need to go to the bathroom, but you can't because nature called just when the movie's climax is around the corner? That's where a companion can come in handy. You can also ask your companion to look after your things, save your seat, and do other things you won't otherwise do on your own. Plus, having someone to talk to about the finer points of the film is a great stress reliever!
Practice good movie etiquette.
Even if theater management doesn't say so, it'd won't hurt if you:
- Turn off your phone, or put it on vibrate/silent mode.
- Ask an usher to help you find your chair.
- Do your business in the bathroom STAT, since you don't want to get up in the middle of the movie and block the view of the person behind you.
- Avoid bringing food that smells, or makes crunching noises when you bite into it.
- Avoid talking or laughing out loud. The only sounds should be from the movie itself.
These may seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised at how many people need to be reminded of these, again and again.
Enjoy the movie.
Regardless of the movie's genre, and regardless of whether it's "good" or "bad," try to enjoy the film in the best way you can. Laugh at the funny scenes, smile at the heartwarming ones, and prepare a box of tissues for the tearjerking moments. After all, isn't that why you decided to go out and pay an extra Php200 in the first place?
When you do these things, watching a movie becomes safe, comfortable, and convenient. Keep these tips in mind, and as movie PAs would say: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.