Thursday, June 28, 2012

It's Premiere Night!

I’ve always enjoyed going to the theater and watching movies on the big screen. When the lights dim and the previews start playing there is little that can divert my attention from the images streaming from the projector. It’s not an activity I do all the time, only when a movie comes out that I think is going to be great or, for one reason or another, one I really, really want to see. It’s just something fun to do when there is nothing else going on.

Here in New Zealand, going to the movies is not just something to do, it is an experience!

I have always remembered when I was last here and went to the theater to see Mission Impossible. I was so impressed with the look of the theater; it was a visual throw back to the days when live theater was still king and moving pictures were just gaining in popularity. Best of all they had a room sectioned off for families with young children and babies, so you didn’t have kids running around and babies crying while you were trying to enjoy the film you paid good money to see. I didn’t think theaters could get any better than that and was a little disappointed to go back home to my typical movie theater.

This trip around my expectations have been blown away. New Zealand theaters have really raised the bar for a great movie experience. They have put in comfortable seats with armrest large enough to share and isles wide enough for people to walk past without you having to angle your legs to the side. The theater also assigns your seat, or allows you to choose your own at the kiosk, so you don’t have to worry about arrive 20 minutes before the start time to get a good view.

The snack selection beats anything I would find in my hometown theater. At one theater you walk through the snack area and pick up the items you want then just wait in line to pay, a much quicker way of getting the treats you want. They have an area where someone will make you an ice cream sunday, you can pour your own soda or pick up a bottled drink, and the popcorn is already packaged and ready for you to grab a box.
The thing I really find awesome about going to the movies is the LA Premiere viewing option. The tickets are a bit more expensive, but I think you get a really neat experience for your money. I never thought I would spring for the fancy LA Premiere ticket, but the other day found myself shelling out the money for a ticket. And I have to say it was worth it.

Our night started off by entering the theater through a separate entrance, taking a set of stairs leading to a private area above, able to look down at the snack area. We walked up to the bar and placed our snack orders and were then directed to have a seat on one of the couches. When our movie was set to start, an usher approached and leads down the hall to the theater and showed us to our seats.
Our seats were in a completely different section of the theater, set in the back with a lower wall to separate us from the cheaper seats. Why were our seats separated? Because they were Lazy Boys. That’s right, you get to prop your feet up and lean back just like you would if you were home. And you have armrest all to yourself, no sharing here.

Included in your ticket price is a non-alcoholic drink and popcorn that will be delivered to you at your seat. There is also a whole food menu with gourmet pizzas and burgers for to select from and selections of wine, beer, and adult drinks to go with it. And it will all be brought to you either in the first half of the film or second half, your choice. Oh? So your ordered dinner and are worried about eating it in your lap? No worries, they have a little table you can place everything on with a low light to see what you are eating.
It was really cool being able to watch a movie in the theater and have the chance to put my feet up and stretch out a little. Having my food delivered right to me and when I wanted was downright awesome. Is it something I’ll do again? Probably, but only as a special treat and outing for an important movie. Other than that, I am perfectly fine with the usual movie going experience here in New Zealand.

In fact, I think it is one of the things I’ll miss the most when I get back to the States. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I am All Black

It takes a lot to get me excited to watch any sort of sport. I spent my high school years going to basically every football game…and not because I had a crush on one of the players or because I enjoyed watching the game. I was one of those band geeks, so I didn’t have a choice on whether or not I went to the game, it was mandatory. After so many years of watching live sport, I became apathetic when it came to watching any sport on the television.

While here in New Zealand I have seen a lot of rugby on the telly. Notice I’ve said “seen” and not “watched”. I just happen to be in the same room as when these matches are playing and have picked up how the game is played. Knowledge of the game still doesn’t make me want to sit down and follow every play.

My lack of interest in watching the game in no way hindered my interest in actually going to a match, and when I heard the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national team, would be playing in a town near me I actually got excited to see to see them.

Ok, so I was actually excited to see big, fit men do the Haka. But what hot blooded female wouldn’t?

We didn't have seats, but our view wasn't half bad.
Turns out, I missed the opening festivities, including the Haka, but surprisingly this didn’t dampen my excitement at seeing a live match. We were “seated” in the Green Zone, which meant we were standing. I tried to follow the game, but jumping and standing on my tip toes to see anything that was going on down on the pitch meant I missed a lot of what was happening.

And still this didn’t dampen the experience. There I was in the middle of the excitement, the crowd going wild with every point the All Blacks scored, cheering on their home team to a killer victory over Ireland, 60 to nil! Being from Irish heritage, I was conflicted over who I should root for, earlier in the night I saw all the Ireland fans dressed in their green, white, and orange regalia and wished I had my own, they looked like they were having typical Irish fun. But standing in the middle of the Green I figured it would be best for my own protection I kept my those thoughts to myself.

The energy flowing through the stadium as the teams battled on the pitch was electric and infectious and I wasn’t immune to it. When the wave came around, I threw my hands up; when the All Blacks scored, I jumped up and down and waved my flag; when half time came around I pushed my way down closer to the pitch to get a better view. And when Ireland was absolutely creamed at the end of 80 minutes of play, I yelled in joy with the best of them.

This in no way means I will now sit down and watch every match that plays on the TV. In fact, I don’t see myself ever enjoying watching a game unless I am physically in the stadium (I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials). What this does mean is I can’t wait to go to my next rugby match!