Going to the movies in Germany

It goes something like this (if my experience a few days ago was in any way typical): Your show starts at 8, so you show up 20 minutes before to buy your ticket (seats are reserved, so it pays to get a ticket early and enter the theater at the last minute). Then you kill some time in the nearby Christmas market, sipping Glühwein and nibbling on Flammkuchen (flatbread) and waffles. Around 8, you duck into the theater (beer in hand, of course), glad to be entering just as the previews are starting, and find your very central, comfortable assigned seat.

The previews, like in America, run about 15 minutes. Then comes an ad for Krombacher beer. Then one for Volkswagen. You glance at your watch, and it’s already 8:30. The ads continue. At 8:40, there’s an ad for Nestle ice cream. And then the lights come on and the curtains close. Did you buy a ticket for the wrong film? Has product placement really gone that far? No, it’s just time for ice cream. Young men and women come down the aisles of the theater selling Nestle ice cream. Maybe two people buy some. The rest shift in their seats impatiently.

Finally, the lights go back off, the curtains reopen, and the film starts — 45 minutes after the scheduled time. And you pledge never to enter the theater within half an hour of the listed time again.

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