Popcorn & Soda: A look at Philippine Cinemas

Published 19th Aug 2008

Although there are websites that review movies, seldom have I found a website that reviews movie houses, especially in the Philippines. I’ve seen movies in different movie houses, some of which I often come back to because of the place, other times, of accessibility. There are many factors to consider in reviewing a movie house, or a cinema house, or a theater, or whatever politically correct name it should be referred to, but for all intents and purposes, I’m going to call it a cinema, since a theater is for plays, ballets, and operas, and a movie house may refer to the cinemas and the mall outside it, or simply a house made of movies. But call it with whatever floats your boat.

Greenbelt 1 Cinemas, Makati City
One of the oldest stomping grounds for kids in high school and college, this cinema has evolved in many ways, from a simple movie house, to one of a series of malls with specialty shops. First time I watched a movie here was when I was in high school, which was in the late 80s. They have remodeled the mall and cinemas since then. Now, there are better and nicer chairs that are very comfy, and the price is not too steep, an inexpensive way to escape reality. Leg room is ample enough for most tall people. Getting a ticket is easy but you have to take the escalator or stairs to go to the cinema itself as the ticket booth is at the ground floor whereas the cinema is at the second. I wouldn’t mind making this my regular cinema to watch my highly-anticipated movies. The only downside is that there are only two cinemas inside this movie house. It kinda limits your options. Whatever movie you choose to watch, you’ll be comfortable and won’t regret paying the price of admission. Jologs encounter probability: 4 out of 10

Greenbelt 3 Cinemas, Makati City
A somewhat better version of the Greenbelt 1 Cinemas, these cinemas are equipped with nicer chairs and can accomodate more people. Leg room is about the same. Digital sound has become a standard in cinemas, such as THX, SDDS, DTS, etc. Price is a bit higher, though, than Greenbelt 1 cinemas, but I fail to see the difference. I don’t see why I should be paying more for a different ambiance when all I want to pay for is to be comfortable while watching a movie. In the dark. Where I won’t be appreciating the ambiance, anyway. Jologs encounter probability: 3 out of 10

Glorietta 1 Cinemas, Makati City
Formerly Quad cinemas, these cinemas are almost as old as Greenbelt 1’s and has undergone the same evolution as Greenbelt 1. But it has a lower Jologs encounter probability rating because they moved to Glorietta 4. Jologs encounter probability: 3 out of 10

Glorietta 4 Cinemas, Makati City
Chairs are comfortable, and much like the ones used in Greenbelt 3 cinemas. Again, digital surround sound is a standard. Jologs encounter probability: 4 out of 10

Robinsons Galleria Cinemas, Pasig City
It’s been quite a while since I last saw a movie at this mall, but I always enjoyed going there, and the seats are nice. When Glorietta and Greenbelt were refurbishing their cinemas with new chairs, Galleria already had them. That’s all I can say about it. Jologs encounter probability: 4 out of 10

Robinsons Place Ermita Cinemas, Manila
When this mall was new, the cinemas were great. However, they were neglected and were in disarray for a while. There was this weird smell you only…smell…with old cinemas. Good thing the Midtown wing was opened, which housed three more cinemas that are at par with the Makati cinemas. I’m hoping it stays that way. Jologs encounter probability: 6 out of 10

Gateway Cinemas 1 – 9, Cubao, Quezon City
Nice chairs, good sound, and ample seating capacity, Gateway cinemas are much alike Glorietta 4 cinemas. Jologs encounter probability: 5 out of 10

Gateway Cinema 10, Cubao, Quezon City
If you’re the type of person who can’t watch a movie without a comfortable chair, Gateway’s Cinema 10 has you covered. Aside from a limited 40 person seating capacity, digital surround sound, and free and unlimited popcorn and soda, this cinema has La-Z-Boy chairs. And if you’re not in the mood for popcorn and soda, they have a snack menu to choose from, for a fee. Only downside for this cinema is the price. But if it’s exclusivity you want, this is the cinema for you. Jologs encounter probability: 1 out of 10

Waltermart Cinemas, Makati City
A sleeper hit, if there ever was one for cinemas. Same price as the Greenbelt 1 cinemas, but better chairs with folding armrests. What’s better is that it is closer to my place than the Greenbelt 1 cinemas. Only downside I can think of is that they open late, and only 4 or 5 screenings per movie. Jologs encounter probability: 4 out of 10

The Promenade Cinemas, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan
I’m having mixed feelings with this cinema. It has high-backed reclining chairs with folding armrests, which is the same chair used in the United States cinemas I’ve been to, that I’m sure I also saw in other cinemas but forgot where it was, but not in the previously mentioned cinemas above. The price makes it even greater as it is also in the same ballpark as the Greenbelt 1 and Waltermart Cinemas. What prevented me from making this cinema my favorite is the fact that there were pieces of gum stuck underneath the folding armrests, which my shirt fell victim to. It reflects the people who watch movies there, and it casts a bad light on them. Jologs encounter probability: 5 out of 10

SM Mall of Asia Cinemas 1 – 6, Pasay City
Let’s see, leg room isn’t ample enough that you bump your knees at the back of the chairs in front of you every time you slouch, comfort level is at an all-time low, chairs aren’t really comfortable because of the lack of ample leg room, and the crowd you’re with isn’t really a crowd you’d want to associate yourself with outside the cinema. But, seating is always reserved. Obviously, this isn’t my favorite place to see a movie, but I did see a number of movies simply because I had no choice, the commander-in-chief said so. Many a time have I shushed people for talking too loudly, with their cellphone or themselves, in this moviehouse. It would be a miracle if you don’t hear a cellphone going off for a text message during a movie. Jologs encounter probability: 8 out of 10

Although I wanted to for a long time, I still haven’t seen a movie in IMAX. And there are new cinemas at Cash & Carry that I would also like to try, although I think it wouldn’t have any difference compared with Waltermart’s or Greenbelt 1’s. Location, however, will always be a factor when choosing where to watch a movie. And of course, the movie itself, if it is screening at your chosen moviehouse.

On a post script note, the Jologs encounter probability is just a made up rating. The closer it is to 10, the more likely you’ll be sitting beside someone talking loudly on their cellphone or amongst themselves, as if they were in their own living room, which means you would be pissed off watching the movie, missing out on the whole experience of the story because you were shushing left and right at the inconsiderate people around you. Those insolent pricks.

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