Last night I got to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Overall, I think it was a really good movie, but it was a poor adaptation of the book. I'm sure you guys aren't really interested in my review of the movie though, so I'll spare you that.
Going to the movies in Japan is an interesting experience. It's not something I get to do often though. The closest movie theater to us is a 10 minute (20 if we take non-express) train ride then a 880 yen taxi ride to get to. This is typical for Japan. Back at home, we have movie theaters in almost every town. Even really small towns will usually have a one screen theater. In Japan, this is not the case.
So along with the travel costs, the cost of a movie ticket here is ridiculously expensive. It's 1800 yen ($18) a ticket! Sometimes there are slight discounts, such as the last showing of a movie will be about 1200 yen. It's enough that I will NEVER complain about ticket prices at home again.
Concessions are about the same prices as they are back at home. You still pay too much for a small pop and popcorn.
Japan is also usually a few months behind when it comes to movie releases. For example, "X-Men Orgins: Woverine" FINALLY comes out here next month. This is very normal for Japan. However, sometimes we get lucky. Harry Potter came out at the exact same time here. (We were busy last weekend, so we had to wait a week to see it).
Seeing a movie here is almost a surreal experience. The Japanese politeness comes through even when watching a movie. Everyone is extremely quiet and attentive. No one laughs at funny parts, no one cries when it's sad, no one screams or yelps when something jumps out to scare you. There is no vocal reaction at all. There were plenty of funny parts in Harry Potter, and it felt odd to be in a crowded theater where Jonny and I were the ONLY people laughing. It's slightly uncomfortable.
However, there is very much a good side to this. Back at home, I can't stand when I'm in the theater and there's a group of chatty teenagers. They feel the need to talk and make obnoxious commentary during the film. I can't count how many times movies have been ruined for me because of this. In Japan, even the teenagers are overally polite during a movie. I love this.
Another interesting thing I noticed is how most of the people in the auidence stay in the theater until the movie is completely finished. This means sitting through the entire credits. Maybe they're waiting just in case something cool happens after the credits, like in "Iron Man"? I have no idea.
So because it's Harry Potter related, I want to share a couple videos. I posted one of these on Facebook, so you guys may have watched it already. There was a contest in Japan for the biggest Harry Potter fans to meet and interview people from the cast of the movie. Here are the videos from it. The two girls that won are adorablly awkward! Their reactions are priceless:
Dan Radcliff (Harry Potter):
Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). This one includes some translation:
To no one's suprise, Harry Potter is popular in Japan just like it is in the rest of the world. Many of my students are fans, which has been a great way to connect with them (because anyone that knows me knows that I'm a HUGE Potter geek). It makes it even better since I've been to Oxford and have seen places where the films were shot. I hope it gets many of them to travel or even study there someday.