It has often been reported that Iceland has the highest cinema attendance per capita in the world.
In 2008, Icelanders visited the cinema on average five times per year. According to the latest statistics, Iceland has the highest number of cinemas per 100,000 individuals in the Nordic region: six. Sweden follows with five, Norway with four, and Denmark and Finland with three.
The total number of cinemas in Iceland as of 2010 was 18. But, that’s down from 55 in 1960. In the modern cinemas of today, there are of course more screens in each cinema.
Yesterday I went to Egilshöllin cinema in the suburb of Grafarvogur for the first time. The cinema is located inside a 24,000-square-meter sport and concert hall (built around ten years ago) along with a gym, ice-skating rink, indoor football field and other facilities.
Tuesday is discount day, so there is often a queue at the capital area cinemas and yesterday was no different. Many of the recent major releases are on show (Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, The Hobbit, The Impossible etc.) but if you’re interested in seeing foreign language or art house films, Bíóparadís and sometimes Háskólabíó are the places to go.
Located at the University of Iceland, Háskólabíó is currently hosting the French Film Festival with a selection of nine French-language films from various countries including the Oscar nominated Amour.
Bíóparadís, in downtown Reykjavík, is also showing a selection of Oscar-nominated foreign films as well as others, like Wadjda, the first film to be filmed exclusively in Saudi Arabia.
Going to the cinema is an experience and it would certainly be a shame if too many more cinemas were to close. That doesn’t seem likely in Iceland but with current ticket prices between ISK 1,300-1,550 (USD 10-12, EUR 7.60-9), it’s certainly not cheap and increasingly prohibitively so for families.
With the increase in online movie downloads and the possibility of renting movies straight from your television, video stores, just like music stores, are suffering.
We still go to our favorite video store for the convenience (yes, I'd rather drive to the video store then navigate a database of films online), the customer service and even just for a chat.
The owner of the video store we rent from knows his product and his customer; he’s seen most of the films, is always able to make good recommendations, is flexible with return dates and always takes the time to chat.
But there’s nothing like seeing a film on the big screen, to be sitting in a packed cinema. The cinema was not packed at yesterday’s screening of Argo, which took home the award for Best Drama at the Golden Globes last week, but the moviegoers clearly enjoyed the film.
They appeared to be so taken by it that after starting to leave the room, many stood in the aisles, some taking a seat again, to watch the closing images shown alongside the credits.
Zoë Robert – email@example.com