When I first moved to France, the question of how I would see American movies simply hadn’t occurred to me. I knew that some were available at the theaters, but I later learned that I’m very lucky to live near many British people!
The first thing to know is that Redbox (or similar) does not appear to have taken off in France. Nor are there video rental stores . . . that I’ve seen. PB swears there is a place somewhere near here, but I’ve yet to see it. Consequently, most of the French that I know simply download movies from the internet. The selection on the French version of Netflix is pretty sad compared to the US, so you begin to understand why they do it – there are few options otherwise!
If you’re an American who recalls the era of Napster and housewives receiving fines worth tens of thousands for downloads, you may find yourself doing what I do – try to see all of the movies that you REALLY want to see at the theater.
In that regard, the most important thing to look for is VO or VOST, which means it is the original version with French subtitles. Even my French friends who are fairly fluent in English prefer them to the other option, which is movies that have been dubbed in French. Just be careful that the original movie is in your language! I was interested in a foreign VOST movie once, then realized that it would be in the “original version,” which was not English! I could probably get by with the French subtitles for most of it at this point, but the finer points would have been lost on me.
While seeing many movies in the theater may sound expensive, it’s really not. You can buy a multi-trip pass at my local theater at a discount rate, plus our employee committee had tickets for 4 Euro each to any movie at any CGR theater, which is a large chain here, and you only pay extra for 3D.
Admittedly, it isn’t the US experience. The theater in Poitiers that plays VOST movies is the small theater of the two in the area, with some screens that are barely larger than some American home TVs. The screen is a reasonable size at the theater in Civray, but not a massive American-mall-theater size. I’m guessing they exist in France, but only show the VF versions that are dubbed . . . perhaps a French person can confirm?
At any rate, it works out fine for me, as long as I watch the release schedules! It can be feast or famine though – there was a long period when I didn’t go to the theater because nothing of interest was playing, then I’ve been two times in the past week and there is another movie coming out that I still want to see.
Of course, if all else fails, there’s always hope that it will be a movie option on my next long flight!