Home Opinion Midweek Mouth-off: SA cinema conditions

Midweek Mouth-off: SA cinema conditions

49 second read

Seeing as it’s Human Rights Day tomorrow in South Africa, we’re moving the Midweek Mouth-off ahead of the public holiday… and discussing those other rights: consumer rights!

For those of you snuffling around the Interwebs today, we want to know what you think of South African cinemas? Have you ever had to deal with rude staff, broken rules (like babies in arms inside the cinema), an unfocused film, broken chairs, collapsing ceilings and sticky, dirty surfaces all-round?

Name and shame the worst offending locations. Give a shout-out to the best – who really making going to the movies a pleasure! And if you’ve ever experienced cinemas overseas, let us know how local conditions compare.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: March 20, 2012


  1. Janrik Oberholzer

    March 20, 2012 at 10:33

    Bad sound and out of focus visuals + poor aircon and nasty seats is par for the course at Bayside Mall. (SK)

    Tiger valley is slightly better most of the time, but never what I would call a ‘premium’ experience.(SK)

    Canal Walk Numetro used to be decent, now also gone down hill and they even charge for SALT!


    • Kervyn Cloete

      March 20, 2012 at 11:41

      There’s once cinema at Bayside – the number of which escapes me now – which has probably the best sound I’ve ever heard in any movie house. The sound balance is absolutely perfect.

      Unfortunately, it’s just that one cinema. All the rest range from rubbish to mediocre.


  2. Tracy Benson

    March 20, 2012 at 10:47

    There was the infamous dead mouse found in a box of popcorn incident at Ster Kinekor at Cresta at the end of last year. Or should I say *sunglasses* infaMOUSE? *yeeaaaaaahhhh* 

    Ahem, anyway. What I’ve experienced personally, NuMetro at Clearwater Mall is always under-prepared, of 7/8 concession stand tills there are usually only 4/5 open – on a Friday / Saturday night (peak movie going times) this is just dumb. Why make your customers stand in 30 minute queues? Oh and their self-service ticket machines are a joke, of the two of the four that were working, their plastic casings were out of alignment so you had to take the front plates off to rescue your tickets that had fallen into the depths of the machines. And sticky floors. Perpetually sticky floors. 


  3. Gavin Mannion

    March 20, 2012 at 10:51

    The self service center at Nu Metro Montecasino is a joke,stale popcorn, sticky everything and the rudest staff I’ve ever experienced in my life


  4. Wtf101

    March 20, 2012 at 11:27

    Meh… our local cinema apparently believes in recycling.  Their popcorn, that is.  Once had the pleasure of buying “fresh” popcorn (From the bag, it was poured into the machine right in front of my eyes) problem is that it still had the previous patrons butter seasoning on it…


  5. David Muller

    March 20, 2012 at 11:28

    Second Tygervalley, especially the older cinemas are small and not worth the extra “premium charge”

    Parrow on the other hand has amongst the cheaper ticket prices in the Cape and with recently refurbished cinemas is well worth visiting


  6. Warren Smith

    March 20, 2012 at 11:29

    The Zone @ Rosebank for me is the worst (Ster Kinekor). The self-services ticket machines hardly ever work, the confectionery counter is always understocked and the management and staff couldn’t give a toss.And the toilets… Don’t get me started, lest I vomit a bit in my own mouth.


  7. grant nicol

    March 20, 2012 at 11:29

    Nu Metro Emperors has always been quick , friendly and efficient, plus any movie that gets watched in The Pantheon gets extra marks. Also on the 2 occasions there has been a few problems we once got a full refund and the other time a free large packet of white Maltzers.


  8. theLastBorn

    March 20, 2012 at 11:43

    SK in Somerset Mall has had shoddy projector focus and sound, watching a movie like transformers and then realizing the text is blurry…. also, I’ve had problems with the confectionery stalls they have… one person serving many people before say 5 movies are about to start… unless you specifically say to them you want combo w/e they will charge you the full price for the items you order, even before you pay for the items and tell them you that what you ordered is that combo (I said I wanted popcorn and a drink) and then dealing with the rude person running the cashier…

    When you pay as much as you do for movies and the food, you expect fantastic service!

    on the other hand I’ve never had problems at SK in stellenbosch which can only mean they are good i guess?


  9. Kervyn Cloete

    March 20, 2012 at 11:52

    One thing I’ve noticed lately in a number of 3D cinemas is that a small percentage of the upper and lower portion of the picture is being cutoff for some reason. I’ve seen this in a number of cinemas, both Nu Metro and Ster Kinekor. 

    Most of the time you won’t even notice it easily, unless there’s text like credits or subtitles on screen, but once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. It’s like suddenly every director has just discovered extreme closeups.

    I’ve complained about it to a few cinema managers, and even when I showed them subtitles or people’s foreheads being cut off, they still could not “see” what I was talking about.


  10. James Preston

    March 20, 2012 at 12:27

    Nu Metro Pavilion are PATHETIC!  Old, dirty screens, low volume sound with porr quality (popping etc.) and out of focus projectors all top the list.  Service is actually quite nice and friendly, popcorn and coke always fresh and good.  But you go for the MOVIE EXPERIENCE!  Not the popcorn!  (But that is important, too)

    When I have the option, I always go to Ster Kinekor Gateway.  Could be the best cinemas in KZN?  Although I don’t frequent the others often enough (Musgrave, Suncoast Casino, Galleria, Midlands Mall etc.)  Very good sound.  Picture 90% of the time is in focus and screens are clean.  Best of the lot if Cinema Nouveau at Gateway.

    But the bottomline is…  The movie going experience for a South African is way below world standards.  Every movie should be a high quality experience.  And the refreshments monopoly is atrocious.  I understand boxed popcorn only and no cans (less irritating packets noise etc.) but the prices are IMMORAL!!  The South African market is prime for a third cinema competitor to clean things up.  A quality movie experience every time, with popcorn you can afford.  Imagine.  In my dreams?  Maybe, until then, I will continue enjoying most of movies on my HD TV on Blu Ray.


  11. Noelle Adams

    March 20, 2012 at 12:28

    Ster Kinekor Junction Musgrave has really jacked up its act but it has the rudest staff working behind the confectionery counter. At a peak time they will ignore queues, turning their back on you to do stock take. I mean, WTF?!

    Ster Kinekor Nouveau Gateway is pure class, while I’ve generally been happy with my experience at Gateway Ster Kinekor Classic… barring some “too loud” sound distortion, sticky seats and a habit for babies in arms to be allowed into the cinema.

    Nu Metro Pavilion underwent extensive renovations less than 2 years ago, and is back in shocking condition – collapsing ceiling, broken chairs etc. Once I’ve also endured a blurry image and non-stereo sound:

    During my stint in Cape Town, I found the confectionery service at Canal Walk Nu Metro ridiculously slow, and a few major delays between swapping the trailer reel for the main film. Bayside Ster Kinekor was disappointingly average, and like Janrik mentioned, I watched a few films that struggled with focus issues. Fail.


    • Noelle Adams

      March 20, 2012 at 13:26

      Oh, I must add I’ve been to the Suncoast cinemas (which are run by independents, Cinecentre.co.za) a few times and, apart from the clutter in the entrance area, I must say I was very impressed with how well run it is. This was for film festival screenings, however, so I can’t comment on the type of patron normal shows attract, as well as how they cope with a crowd surge.


  12. Johan Kohler

    March 20, 2012 at 12:43

    Ster Kinekor Cresta.  Problems on several occasions with focus, aspect ratio, and lights.    No longer supporting them.


  13. Pravesh Valab

    March 20, 2012 at 13:43

    I used to love Monte Casino but its being going downhill for a while now. I do love Cedar Square. But the best experience I’ve had in the last few years has to be the bioscope idependent in Jhb CBD


  14. James Francis

    March 20, 2012 at 16:48

    I once saw a mouse at Cresta – twice actually. I think they were hunting for popcorn…


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