Tourist Tip #109 / Assigned Seating at the Cinema

Israeli movie theatres let you pick your seat in advance, just be sure to arrive early enough to claim it.

You’ve purchased your popcorn and giant-sized soda, grabbed some sweet snacks to share and spent a little time ogling the stars on the movie posters lining the Cineplex's lobby. Then – oh no! You glance at your watch and realize that inside the theater, the previews are already rolling. Shucks, you think to yourself. All the good seats are probably taken, and you’ll be stuck in the very front row, craning your neck up at the screen and staring directly at Brad Pitt’s nose hairs.

Hold it right there, pilgrims at the pictures! When you buy a movie ticket in Israel, your seat number is assigned and printed right on your ticket. So while Israel’s movie theaters – most of which boast surround sound, hot Hollywood releases and enough buttery popcorn to feed a small cinephile army – look a lot like the megaplexes in the U.S. and Europe, there is no need to practice the American movie-going custom of scrambling for seating just as the lights start to dim.

If you book online, you can select your seats from the drop-down menu. If you purchase at the theater, the box-office staff will ask you where you prefer to sit and confirm your placement before you hand over your shekels.

But remember that at the movies, like anywhere, a little politeness goes a long way. Showing up too late and climbing over other viewers’ legs is no way to make friends. And if you book plum seats and do show up late, don't be shocked to find people in your chairs; once the lights dim, it's common for Israelis to scoot forward, or more toward the center, and claim as empty spot as their own. You can show the interlopers your ticket and they will likely scurry off without a scuffle, but who wants to miss first few minutes of a film squabbling over seating?

Book early, film-lovers, and arrive on time. And if you can’t decide where to sit, just call on one of the great movie lines of all time: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

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