By Kevyn McGraw
Done with Udon.
This story starts on Sunday, August 2, 2015. My friends and I had planned to go to Udon Thani for the day to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation at the Central Plaza Major Cineplex Theater. We were ready to cross an international border, drive an hour, watch the movie, drive back, cross the border again and make it home for dinner. Unfortunately, our plan did not fall through that day. However, it is very common among people living in Vientiane to cross over to Thailand to experience moments of entertainment that are otherwise not available here in Lao.
Less than one week later, after months of rumours, on August 6, 2015, the Major Platinum Cineplex Theater finally opened its doors to the public at Vientiane Center. I was very excited to see how the whole experience would compare. Nonetheless, I set my expectations low. After all, Vientiane is already equipped with two sub-par cinemas.
RESERVATION AND PRICES
On Friday morning, I was contacted on Facebook by the Cineplex team to notify me their app was now available in for Android and iOS. The app is named “Major Laos”. Through this app, you can see show times, reserve tickets, see upcoming movies and more. Ticket prices start from 32 000 kip between Monday and Thursday. Between Friday and Sunday, tickets are 40 000 kip for a regular seat, and 48 000 kip for a “Honeymoon” seat (essentially a seat where the armrest can go up or down in case you want to get even closer to that special someone beside you… or not). Compared to Thailand, I am already saving money just on ticket prices.
Although you cannot pay through the app or online, your reservation is kept until 30 minutes before the movie starts. You are given a reservation code and it was very simple for the clerk to find our reservation once we arrived.
On opening day, I was quite surprised at the amount of available blockbusters being played on their five screens. You can check the app for the list. Luckily for my friends and I, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was playing on three different screens. However, the only concern I have while I was browsing through the “Coming Soon” section of the app is the limited amount of upcoming titles within the next five months. A representative of the Major Platinum Cineplex told me:
“Movies Coming Soon might be added if we get authorized for more movies from the distributor. It is in negotiation process.”
I also noticed that none of the movies being played now are available in 3D. Have no fear, I was also told “there is one 3D theatre so there’s definitely 3D movies coming soon.”
My friends and I arrived at the Vientiane Center at 7:00 PM. We parked our motorbikes in the back where there is security to take care of your stuff for a small fee of 3,000 kip. As soon as we walked into the building through the basement level, the smell of popcorn was in the air and excitement filled my lungs. Once the lift doors opened on the 4th floor, we were greeted by the new staff.
Once we received our tickets, we headed to the concessions stand. We ordered 3 popcorns and 3 drinks for 90 000 kip. They have the choice between Sweet or Salty popcorn. Unfortunately, when they served us our drinks, the cups were less than half full. Luckily I noticed, and they filled them all the way up. These things can happen on the first day I suppose.
While we waited for the room to be ready, guests can wait on comfy couches and charge your mobile devices in the nifty USB-ready plugs. Great idea!. #myphoneisalwaysdying
Was the screen big enough?
Given the size of the Cinema, the screen was a good size. It is not as big as in Udon, but it was comfortable. The image quality was what you would expect.
How was the sound?
Ah sound! This is where I was most worried. Were we going to get Lao-style-off-the-chart bass levels or a conservative volume level? This is where my initial low expectations were shattered. The sound being emitted by brand new surround-sound speakers at just the right levels was unquestionably the most impressive feature. Oh how I have missed good sound!
“Omg it is so good! The sound is perfect! Everything is perfect!” said Alex Pham, my Canadian-Lao friend.
Do I need to stand at any point before the movie starts?
No! In fact, apart from a few Thai commercials, there were no previews either. Make sure you arrive on time to not miss the beginning of the movie.
Platinum Major Cineplex has achieved what so many in Vientiane, Laos, have been unconsciously waiting so long for. I hope the initial momentum and professionalism lasts for years to come.
THINGS TO NOTE
- The app does not notify you if tickets are sold out or not. You can also reserve by calling 021 228 090
- The motorbike parking lot is not illuminated at night, so remember where you parked. Security was still there late in the evening though.
By Kevyn McGraw, photos taken by Alex Pham