When I lived in the suburbs of Dallas, I went to the movies at least once a month, if not more. There were a ton of options. My friends and I would go to the nearest IMAX theatre for the best summer blockbusters or frequent the local cineplex at the mall for midnight showings of new releases we just had to be the first to see. You knew you could always catch a new indie release at the Angelika. The old Hollywood down the street was the most popular theater growing up in the 90s, and I remember the few times my family splurged a little and took me there as a kid. Now it’s an outdated relic people only visit for catching discounted showings of movies that have already finished playing at any of the bigger, moderner theaters that silently sprung up and people moved onto over the years. If you were short on cash but still wanted a good time out, you could always catch a recently released film on DVD playing at the dollar theatre.
Movie-going is a huge part of American culture, but not so much in Japan. Theatre options are generally limited, and cinemas will consistently run you around 1,800 yen ($18 USD) a ticket unless you visit on special discount days/showings or purchase a pre-release ticket. Up until recently, my husband and I rarely went more than once or twice a year. Then we discovered that the old, retro theater in town had finally given up trying to compete with the other newer cinemas nearby, and started doing their own weekly showings of selected indies films and older releases. It felt a little like finding some of that old movie culture from back home.