Going to the Movies in Colombia

Movie theaters in Colombia were among the last businesses to reopen after most pandemic measures were removed. If you like going to the good old movies, read on…

At one time I lived in Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain) and although I’m fluent in Spanish, I just didn’t care to hear Meryl Streep with someone else’s voice. 100% of all movies were dubbed, so I only went occasionally to please a girlfriend. I also lived in Mauritius and all they had there were Bollywood movies, which besides being in a language I didn’t understand, were virtually always musicals – not my thing!

What I love about Colombia is that any English language movie can be seen with subtitles in Spanish, except if it’s an animated film. In a few theaters they’ll have a show or two per day with subtitles, but there are some that show mostly films in their original language. In Medellín, that theater is the Cine Colombia in the Oviedo shopping center (El Poblado)

Now, for those of you who have their money mostly in major foreign currencies, know that going to the movies here is nothing like back home. An adult movie ticket might cost you less than $4 US (based on 4000 COP per dollar), and a big bucket of popcorn about the same. No $8 sodas!

The main movie theater chains across Colombia are Cine ColombiaCinemark, Cinepolis and Procinal. The theaters are almost all stadium style and except for Cine Procinal, there’s usually no small rooms, cineplex style. Almost all movie theaters are inside a mall, and sometimes even in bus terminals!

A few notes and tips on what’s different in the theater experience here:

  • Seats are almost always assigned. Row F, seat 11, for example.
  • Most Colombians go to the movies at night (night here starts at 6 PM), so going to an early showing may result in a private movie!
  • Some people will chat loudly during the movie, talk on their phones (one time a lady was even taking selfies that cast her shadow on the screen!!), or let the kids run wild through the theater. Some even take their babies and toddlers, even to late shows and R rated movies, with the expected distractions ensuing. I don’t think this is unique to the country, but if you want to avoid the irritation, sit further down or better still, go to a matinee! If it’s an action movie, the volume will be blasting so loud any unwanted noise will be drowned out anyway!
  • The concession food is what you’d expect: popcorn, hot dogs, sodas. Candy bars will be mostly Colombian national brands (though you do see Kit Kat bars in a combo below!)
  • Popcorn is sold in 2 versions: sweet (dulce) or salty (salado), so make sure you pick the right one!
  • Colombians love to crush potato chips and spread them on their hot dogs!
  • In some theaters, not only there’s trailers but a short national documentary film before the main feature. If you don’t care for this, arrive later, not at the listed time.
  • Preferencial” (preferential) seats are the ones in the highest rows, and since most people pile up in the highest rows, it’s likely to be the noisiest area.
  • You can buy tickets online, but as with many e-commerce interfaces here, your foreign credit cards likely won’t work. Ditto in self-serve kiosks.

Enjoy the show!