Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tricks of the trade

Wee Chiang Mai offers two movie theater options. You can go to the locally-owned Vista Gad Suan Kaew 7, or the nationwide chain, Major Cineplex. Never mind that they're both in chintzy shopping malls, the bane of this web-site's content. That's irrelevant to the issue of the day. Today's complaint is how the latter successfully squeezes movie-goers here in Chiang Mai and throughout Thailand.

As a regular movie-goer, I am devoted to Vista for two reasons: they're within walking distance of the abode and, the point of this post, the viewing aspect ratio in their auditoriums is much better than at Major. The latter has a bum tendency to build its theater auditoriums wider than they are long, so that spectators are forced to scan the screen from side to side if they want to see the entire picture. A major pain in the neck, I tell ya! The only seats offering palpable aspect ratios are the last two rows at the back, seats which conveniently cost about one-fourth more than the already inflated standard. In other words, we've been duped! We have to pay a premium to enjoy a viewing aspect ratio that a well designed theater has for all seats, save for those way up front. But Thai movie fans are not the only ones getting swindled by a greedy theater chain.

Author Luke Holland has written a piece ("One man's rant: the soaring cost of going to the cinema") about how theater chains around the world are very slyly employing similar price gouging schemes; ones which entail actually detracting from the cinema experience rather then improving it. He cynically calls such practices 'Less-Product-For-The-Same-Price-Or-More-Product-For-A-Premium-Even-Though-You-Didn't-Ever-Want-It' (L.P.F.T.S.P.O.M.P.F.A.P.E.T.Y.D.E.W.I, ©). Here's an excerpt:

"The other day my missus and I decided to go and see Russell Brand being paid handsomely to pretend to be Russell Brand, but in a film, and we bought our tickets, a tub of popcorn and a fizzy beverage. Didn't see much change from twenty-five pounds, there, but no worry.

Then we go into the cinema and sit down, only to find the drinks holders have been surreptitiously removed since our last visit. Not only this, but either my legs are prone to spontaneous structural erections or there is decidedly less legroom than when I last visited not two weeks ago. It didn't take long to find out why.

The three rows in front of us have been refitted. "VIP SEATING", a sign says. Huge chairs that each take up the space of two original pauper stools, soft leather armrests with two drinks holders and a slot for popcorn. And, oh yes, there's all my legroom, right there billowing about in huge, superfluous clouds, as each and every one of these seats remained unoccupied for the entire duration of the film, while all the cheap seats (now sans legroom and holders) were filled with an increasingly exasperated gaggle of irate Northeners who'd just spilled another glug of icy Sprite right across their genitals.

Read the entire article here...


  1. It ain't that bad, duder. Just like a ballgame. If it's not a full house then move on up to those VIP seats. I worked as an usher in a movie theater-- no one's going to say shit. Best time to go to the movies is weekday afternoons.--VMM

  2. Point well taken. But still, it's the principle of it all.

    Get that aspect ratio right for all seating. Then make VIP seating fit for a king! That'll justify a higher price.

  3. This isn't really a problem to me,since I completely quit watching movies in those plex for quite a while.

    My only 2 options are...

    1.APEX Theatres,namely SCALA.
    or 2.wait for DVD release (usually within no more than 3 months after theaters release date,hey,I can wait for that)

    If I have to pay ฿฿฿ for uncomfortable seats to watch movies,then there's no any other valid reasons to compensate that.

  4. If only we could get a few thousand others to quit the multiplexes for Apex, then maybe the Tansacha's would rebuild the Siam. I'm dreaming, of course.

    Scala is still the nicest theater I've seen in this part of the world. Myanmar has a few beauties, but Scala is still king. Nothing comes close.

  5. I lived in Chiang Mai for a little over four months. No problem viewing films at the Major for me. The Vista was sometimes maddening because of its peculiar layout which took me a while to figure out. As far as bathrooms, Major wins big time. I also liked going to the DVD store on the bottom level of Airport Plaza, where I got not only a large number of Thai movies with English subtitles, but some other Asian films as well.

  6. Vista isn't exactly a theater of dreams, but it's cheaper, better located, not frigid
    from arctic A/C and - bottom line - the sight lines are better for watching movies than at Major. All ticket prices are the same, no less.

    Good thing they don't show movies in the bathroom.