Saturday, 2 May 2009

Movies in South Africa

We consider ourselves very blessed to live in Durban, because we are 20 minutes away from Gateway - the biggest shopping & entertainment complex in Africa. Sounds impressive huh?! Well, the reality is sadly less so...

Gateway boasts 20 Cinemas in total (16 mainstream & 4 "Cinema Nouveau" - art - movie theatres). Last night I went to the movies with Cami as we both wanted to watch 17 Again...the new Zac Effron movie. Why I don't know...I think because it looked like the best of a bad bunch. It's hard to believe, but out of all those movies there really is nothing decent to see, spoilt as that sounds. Let me give you an example of our current offerrings...

Slumdog Millionaire (seen - highly recommend)
X-Men Origins - no thank you.
Hannah Montana (limited appeal)
White Wedding (local - generally means low budget)
I Love You Man (not a fan of coarse humour - which this is rumoured to contain a lot of)
Hotel for Dogs (not eveyone is dog crazy)
Marley & Me (ditto) plus, I'm sick of movies that make me cry...
Fast & Furious 4...surely my reasons for not wanting to see this are self-explanatory?
Monsters v/s Aliens (ditto limited appeal...)
Dragonball (Kung Fu Science Fiction?!?!)

Won't bore you with the other ten...

Back to 17 Again - I could, perhaps, have enjoyed it, had I been 17 again..

Not only did the movie fall short of my expectations but the whole experience was definitely a fail. We set off in good time, only to take 15 minutes to find a parking place (everyone had the same idea as us, obviously). I'm not sure how many parking places are on offer at Gateway. I know there are at least 8 entrances with about 4 stories each so I would guesstimate 8 x 4 = 24 x 300 = about 7 000. Sounds ginormous but clearly it's not enough! Considering that it is the ONLY place one can watch movies in style & safety in this province, & incorporates restaurants that stay open 'til late & shops that trade until 9p.m. at night over the weekends, the parking bays are obviously insufficient for the numbers wanting to enjoy all that is on offer.

By now we had to rush. The outside lift is usually the quickest option, only one of them is under maintenance at the moment (& has been for about the last MONTH). That leaves only one lift operational at the movie house parking. How long does it take to service/maintain a lift I ask you??? After a 10 minute delay we made it to the ticket purchase foyer. A delight of a place. Sure any locals reading this will be smiling by now...All computerized booking - very impressive - only real people manning the (endless) queues would be a LOT quicker.

At a guess, about 8 machines & a couple of (very) lethargic attendees only able to take CASH (not a good idea to carry in South Africa).
Each person purchasing a ticket via the machine takes a good 5 minutes as the touch screen is about as sensitive as a turtle's shell & needs a good slap with a fist to register any sign of life. Once you have finally chosen your movie, your seat, your payment option & eventually have the honour of swiping your card you are, more often than not, informed that your payment has not registered & can you please TRY AGAIN!!!! O.H. M.Y. S.H.A.T.T.E.R.E.D. N.E.R.V.E.S!

Apparently people have been known to actually pick up the monitors & smash them to the ground...if only I had the strength left in me once the whole rigmarole was over...Needless to say, the queues are somewhat slow moving & the couple of (also slow moving) attendees eventually have to come & redo the whole procedure with their Midas touch. (I've noticed they tap the screen with a credit card & have a lot more patience with waiting for it to respond than their average customer - probably because they are being paid by the hour & don't have a movie to rush to!) Round about 3rd time lucky one finally gets to proceed to the NEXT STEP!

Now, one CAN overcome a bit of this frustration, by buying one's tickets ONLINE - I have been doing this for the last couple of months & all I need to do is swipe my credit card & my tickets print out instantaneously...perfect...but, to get to the machine to do this, I have to wait 20 minutes for the 4 people in front of me!!!

Up the escalators & straight in to the movie & you can make it within 45 minutes of first arrival at said destination BUT, if you, like me, believe a movie is not a movie without popcorn & Coke Zero, guessed it...need to join ANOTHER QUEUE!!! This one is always very long, but somehow a lot more fast moving than the ticket purchase queues. Approximately 5 minutes will get you to a teller ( yes, a real human this time!) where you can purchase (at a phenomenally inflated price) some popcorn & a Coke Light (when they have it in stock - approximately 50% of the time).

If you, like me, prefer Coke Zero (seems to have less headache inducing properties) you're outta luck...
Oh, & another annoyance, you can't pay with your debit card (which is what most people here use to do their real-life - ie: not online - purchases) on most of the tills (the tellers themselves tell me they haven't been updated for years) ... So, either you run up your Credit Card bill, or you have the hassle of withdrawing cash, there's no easy way with Ster Kinekor!

So Coke Light & popcorn in hand, 50 minutes later, off you go to enjoy one of the many (interesting) movies on offer at Gateway, which offers "anything you want, more (hassle) than you can imagine!"


Andrea said...

lol....oh my word I had almost forgotten those days....hope you enjoyed your movie, am glad to say I have been able to give it a wide berth so far and think I will continue to do so.

Hope you are having a lovely long weekend!

Jenny said...

That sounds like a dreadful experience. Thank goodness I never had to experience that because I would just go straight home again

Vicki said...

Makes you wonder why you bother really! I think I would be waiting for the DVD. LOL

Desire Fourie said...

Had a real chuckle hear, as this is exactly how one actually experience movies anywhere in SA. Shocking service. So therefore we just wait for the movie to show on DSTV a few months later ... I know its definitely not the same as seeing it on the big screen. But hey, we pay a fortunte for DSTV so if you're not too fussy about the screen size, there is nothing better lying comfy on your own couch with all your treats right there at arms length. TFS. Hugs from Desire

jax said...

100% spot on about gateway. I also use the movie card to tap the screen and it works really well. You should try the I LOVE YOU MAN movie - funny - and not so coarse as to make you upset and want to walk out.

Simply-Mel said...

Bring on home entertainment theatre! I swear its worth the extra dosh. Not that I own one or even a flat screen tv (we still have a 54cm 1995 tv!)...but I am going to use THIS POST OF YOURS as motivation to my husband to think it through! Must say I local cinema is beautifully run, small with only 6 movies but good enough!