People usually go straight to cinemas to enjoy films. However, limited film selections and crowded theaters may give true movie lovers reason for pause. Providing a different atmosphere and films that people cannot get in cinemas, mini-theaters try to offer another alternative to watch films.
At a mini-theater, customers can rent a room with seating for up to 15 people to enjoy a film of their choosing from the theater’s collection or their own films from home.
Subtitles, a rental DVD store in the basement of the Dharmawangsa City Walk shopping center in South Jakarta, for example, provides five rooms for rent as mini-theaters, where customers can comfortably watch films.
“Basically, we rent rooms,” said owner Dani Dewanto, adding that each room had a maximum capacity of 10 people.
According to Dani, customers pay only Rp 165,000 ( US$18.33 ) for a two-hour session on weekends or Rp 150,000 on weekdays.
“It is cheap if you come with some friends,” said Dani, adding that on weekends, the rooms were often fully booked.
Subtitles equips all the rooms with carpets, sofas, pillows and LCD or projector screens. It also has food and beverages available.
To compete with cinemas that offer new-release films, Subtitles offers various kinds of films, both mainstream and independent, from around the world, including those that are hard to find or rarely screened in cinemas.
Besides festival films, Subtitles also has various choices from the Criterion Collection ( important classic and contemporary films ) from well-known directors like Ingmar Bergman, Yozujiro Ozu, Pedro Almodovar and Michael Haneke, who just won a Grand Prix award from the Cannes Film Festival in France this year.
“We have around 4,000 DVD titles and around 200 Blu-ray discs,” said Dani, adding that all DVDs were original, not copies.
Subtitles, which was founded in 2002, survives with the support of a small segment of customers as the number of cinemas in Jakarta’s malls continues to mushroom.
“Most of our customers are college students and employees,” said Dani. “Many filmmakers also come here to preview their films with their clients or journalists.”
Yagi Anggara, 18, a college student who watched a film with his girlfriend, said that it was his third visit to Subtitles. “It has a complete collection of films, and I can watch good quality films here that I have missed in cinemas,” he said.
Another mini-theater in Jakarta is Indies DVD Movies Jakarta ( Jakarta Indies ) in Tebet, South Jakarta. Visiting Jakarta Indies is like visiting a DVD rental store.
Various DVD cases are arranged neatly on the wall based on their genres. Visitors can find not only popular genres like romance, horror and adventure, but also documentary films.
Specializing in festival and indie films, Jakarta Indies tries to keep its business running by renting three rooms to watch films that cannot be borrowed, such as Indonesian short films and films from countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh and Iran.
Most of Jakarta Indies’ visitors are students from nearby high schools. For them, it has become an alternative that allows them to watch films with their classmates.
Elisabeth Austina, 15, who came with seven of her friends from SMAN 26 state high school, said that they liked renting a room there because they could do anything they liked while watching a movie. “We don’t have to think about other people. You can even stop the film and sleep if you don’t like it,” she said.
Jakarta Indies charges Rp 120,000 for a 15-person room. ( cor )