by Evans Yonson
Barcelona – Friday is the change program or add program day for Barcelona. It´s logical to open new movies on Fridays because they just go directly to the cinema after work and before dinner. Weekends are usually long for the Spanish people and they don´t waste their time. They go to the cinema. Take dinner at some fancy restaurants. After dinner, they would wind up their Friday evening with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in a nearby bar. Saturdays and Sundays are very well spent at home with the family during the day, and with friends later on. Young professionals stay late on Saturday nights, regardless of season. They really don´t care if it´s freezing cold outside, or scorchingly hot. They just want to have fun. And they are very good at it, I tell you.
I say add program because one movie could last three months in one cinema and people still come to watch it. I remember my first months in Madrid, Episode 3 of the Star Wars premiered in summer 2004 and stayed on until spring 2005, that´s about eight months. In Spain, or like any other European countries, the cinemas are smaller compared to that of the Philippines (which is patterned after the US version). Their cinemas could only sit like 120 persons per showing. Standing room is never allowed. Intermissions last 20-30 minutes every after one movie. It lasts longer because they clean and freshen up the theater. Yes, you read it right. They freshen it up. Not they are bad smelling people but because cinemas here offer total quality viewing experience. People come in on time because they don´t allow people to be moving around and looking for their seats while everybody else is already engaged with the movie.
People come in with snacks bought just before coming in to the cinema. I remember years ago when the world was so young, we would watch a double program in the Philippines. Double programs mean two movies for one pay. It means that we would be inside for almost five hours with the intermission added. Moviehouses start at 1PM (1300H) and would last until 11PM (2300H). My mom would bring a complete meal for everybody in pots. Imagine, how the cinema would smell till closing time if she prepared pork and chicken adobo and fried dried fish. I always smile looking back to those days when instead of going to the beach, we would troop every Saturday afternoon to the cinema. I believe it was my Mom´s way of containing all of us every Saturday.
In the Philippines, the cinema was introduced immediately after the end of the Spanish-American war. It would be safe to say that the American influence on Philippine cinema is very strong. After more than a century, Hollywood still rules the country. On the other hand, in Spain, the film industry may not be that big but they are not so dependent on Hollywood for their supply. European films have their own local market. With this in mind, I find it discomforting to hear from friends that they have already seen Eat, Pray, Love over the weekend. Spain will have its showing of the Julia Robert starrer in September, exactly one month after its world premier. It takes like forever for Hollywood movies to get to this side of the earth. Take for example the movie, I love you Phillip Morris (Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor-actors; Glenn Ficarra and John Requa-directors). This movie was launched early 2009 and it had its premier in Spain about a week ago. Yes, that long. Another example is Steven Soderbergh´s 2009 movie, The Girlfriend Experience. All the more with Sunshine Cleaning with Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. Some people say that the subtitling of these movies usually takes a longer time. It’s funny some idioms are literally translated into Spanish. All the more with the dubbing thing. Here’s an interesting fact, I have been told that many Spanish folks have never really heard the voice of Julia Roberts. Ever! Some movie titles, if not most, are also translated correctly and some funnily. Julie Andrews’ The Sound of Music is Sonrisas y Lagrimas (Smiles and tears). Is this a joke? No!!! That’s the real title. Recently, Sylvester Stallone’s movie with the bunch of old and not-so-young-anymore Hollywood action stars is called The Expendables. But not here in Spain or for the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. It’s Los Mercenarios.
There is really nothing wrong between watching the a film the soonest possible time and viewing it two years after its launch. Movies are produced to withstand the test time. They are not news items that need to be shown and broadcast immediately. Also, they take of the marketing of these films carefully. But the downside of this late showing is the internet. While the Spanish audience pay 6 euros per film, I only pay my monthly internet connection for all the movies that I could ever watch in a 30 days time. I have seen all these three films before they could even start their press junket here in Spain.
Some films are not worth the euros and the time at the cinema. But the best films are better seen before a big screen. Nothing really substitutes the true cinema experience.