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Going to the Movies in Costa Rica

I love going to the movies. After surfing online for previews of the latest releases, my husband and I head to the nearest theater, buy a bag of popcorn, and settle in for two hours of entertainment. One of the great things about going to the movies in Costa Rica is affordability – gone are days when we paid $20 for tickets and another $15 to the concession stand.

Grab sushi before the movieThere are three major theater companies in Costa Rica: CCM Cinemas, Cinemark, and Cinepolis. My local movie theater, a CCM Cinema located in Heredia’s Paseo de las Flores mall, charges about $4.50 for adults and $3.50 for children. If you’re into the 3-D experience, you’ll pay around $7 for adults and $6 for children. These prices are standard, or even a bit on the high end – in other words, going to the movies won’t break the bank.

If you’re feeling flush, you can’t miss one of Costa Rica’s VIP theaters. Currently available at Terramal (Tres Rios, east of San Jose) and Nova Cinema (Avenida Escazu), $10 buys you the true VIP experience. To begin, these small theaters offer reserved seating – choose your spot at the moment of booking. And instead of typical stadium chairs, you’ll be treated to individual leather recliners, reclining loveseats, and plush couches. If you show up early, mosey into the VIP lounge, a chic waiting area with snack bars and made-to-order cocktails. Don’t bother buying your snacks before the movie starts, because once you’re in the theater, waiters will distribute menus and take your order – in addition to popcorn and sodas, you can order sandwiches, paninis or even sushi!

Summer blockbusters and highly publicized movies generally hit Costa Rica around the same time as they premier in the U.S., although some may take up to a month to arrive. However, less popular films may come to theaters more than six months after they’ve premiered abroad – and some may never play in Costa Rican theaters. Movie rental stores have good inventory though, so you’ll never miss out on a movie you look forward to watching.

Relax in the VIP lounge before the showAs you peruse the paper or search online, keep in mind that many theaters will offer two versions of each movie – one subtitled and one dubbed. If you prefer to watch movies in their original language, usually English, be sure to look for the movie title followed by the designation “sub” (subtitled), not “dob” (dubbed). Often, both versions will play on the same screen but at different times, so take care when making plans. 

Movie ratings systems vary slightly from in the United States. Instead of G, PG, PG-13 and R designations, Costa Rica uses TP (Todo Publico, or General Audiences), 12+ (12 and older), and 18+. In general, G and PG movies are rated as TP, PG-13 as 12+ and R earns an 18+.

As of early 2011, most movie tickets can only be purchased at the theater – there are no online conglomerate sites that sell tickets in advance. However, some theaters, such as Escazu’s Nova Cinema, offer ticket sales on their own websites. Note that except in the case of VIP theaters, seats are not reserved. In order to get the best seats, Costa Ricans arrive early, often 90 minutes before show time. If you don’t want to be stuck in the front or very back rows, try and arrive at least 45 minutes to an hour before the show. For a whopping $14, you can enjoy tickets for two, snacks and drinks at a first-run movie; now that’s entertainment!

Going to the Movies in Costa Rica in Pictures

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