Seeing a Movie in Kazakhstan

Yes, I am able to see films in the original English here in Kazakhstan. It’s pretty great! Initially when we were getting ready to move here, I was sad at the thought of not ever going to the movies, but it’s not an issue. However, seeing a movie here is a bit different than seeing one at home.

First, originally only one theater in Astana showed English films, but another, conveniently the one right across the street from us, now shows them as well. They seem to alternate which will show the English films and during other weeks they both have them; you just have to look. Luckily there is a webpage we can consult to find showtimes. The English movie only shows once a day, typically between 7:00 and 8:30 PM, and plays for only a week, maybe two if it is a big-deal-film. Theaters are also only in shopping malls.

Concessions and ticket sales happen at the same time, at least in the theater we go to the most. Popcorn, soda, candy, chips, whatever else they offer, are all waiting on shelves that you just grab on our way to the cashier (no extra butter options here, much to my disappointment). When selecting your ticket, you must always decide the exact seats you want, unlike in the U.S. where you do this for VIP or IMAX movies only. The price for English films is also about double the price to those in Russian or Kazakh. Can’t complain too much though when it is still only about $4-5 (I guess versus the $1.75-$3 I should be annoyed, but whatever, still cheaper than in Minneapolis!).

You will be under-dressed. When I first moved here, I felt like a slob every time I went out. When going out, men wear suits or sweaters and dress pants, women wear fancy skirts, dresses, high heels. Though you might see a few people dressed more casually in the theater, there will at least be a few who look like they are ready for a night on the town.

Considering very few things start right on time in Kazakhstan, movies start at the time listed. Often there are no previews, so if you are banking on those to save you, you are likely going to miss the first 10-15 minutes of a film…which we did about the first three or so times we went.

So what have we seen here? All the big blockbusters make it to Kazakhstan: Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Dunkirk, just saw Blade Runner 2049 last night, and others. We are not hurting here. Now if we could get Hollywood to stop making mostly sequels and uninspiring films, we’d probably go more often!

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