Going to the Movies in Kampala

Movies in Kampala

So you want to go out, but you don’t want to mingle. You’ve got to leave the house, but refuse to get out of your lounge wear. You want to eat snacks, but you don’t want to have to sit across the table from another human being. That’s a totally acceptable way of thinking. Sometimes you just need a few hours to get away. Sometimes you need to feed your face. Sometimes you need to do that while not feigning conversation.

I’m pretty sure that’s why the movie theater was invented. Well, that and watching movies of course.

Luckily, Kampala has three such establishments. They range from rather old and (slightly) musty to brand new and air-conditioned. Some have basic concessions while others have full-blown cafes inside the theater. But what about the location? The pre-snacks? What about the snacks you are totally not going to sneak into the theater because that’s against policy? These things are part and parcel to the movie going experience. So let’s start.

First we have the oldest cinema, located in Garden City. It’s basic but kept up well enough with cheaper prices and dependable show times. For 16,000 UGX you get a soda and the chance to hang out in their lounge pre-show. Note that the lounge is just a few chairs put together. It really is nothing special. But for those of us who are looking to kill a little time during a matinee, it fits the bill perfectly. Meanwhile, just around the corner is ice cream and snacks (or a gym if you are so inclined). And, of course, with Uchumi in the basement, if you want to bring a few sour patch kids along for the ride, we certainly won’t tell!

Just down the street from Garden City is a brand new movie theater: The Hub. It is owned by the same cinema group (Cineplex Cinemas Uganda) but offers a brand new, glossy, air-conditioned movie experience. Just take the escalator to the top floor and ta-da! There it is in all its glory. Of course, the movie tickets here cost more at around 20,000 UGX a pop, which can feel rather expensive, especially if you’re taking a date. But you do get a free soda! A free 2,000 UGX soda. Okay, that’s not really an incentive. However, the facilities there are nice. There’s even a fancy lounge area (and I do mean fancy this time) for you to hang out in pre-show.

Of course we’re going to have to take a moment to talk about the incentives of location. Yes, there is the Nakumatt nearby so you can grab yourself a bag of melty candies. However, even more important is the frozen yoghurt stand located on the bottom floor. Now, this stand probably deserves it’s own review, but I’ll shamelessly plug it here anyway. Styled after the ‘create your own fro-yo’ shops in the West, you grab a cup and fill it with whatever flavors you like. There aren’t many, but they range from vanilla to mocha and cheesecake so you can’t really go wrong there. Then, you choose your own toppings. You weigh it and then pay a lot of money for some frozen yoghurt. But it is delicious. And it is perhaps the best thing to eat before the movie. Part of me is willing to pay the extra shillings at The Hub, not for the stylish bathrooms, but because I know I’ll have a fantastic pre or post-show snack.

Now, Cineplex Cinemas Uganda is constantly having deals. Though, they aren’t always consistent depending on who and when you ask. There are usually a few good movies picked out for Half-Price Tuesday. You can check their Facebook page for the specific movies listed as half price. You can also keep up to date on movie premiers, times, and deals. Recently they’ve promoted a deal for a “Kids Combo” for those aged 3-14 that includes popcorn and soda in the price of the ticket.

As the grand finale, we introduce to you Kampala’s very first 3D cinema. Otherwise known as 3D Cinema Magic. Located in Naalya, the theater opened just this March. Action movies are the main focus so far at Cinema Magic. Future classics such as The Wolverine, Pacific Rim and Man of Steel dominate the experience. Including a great sound system, Magic Cinema also has a number of promotions. While tickets are generally 16,000 UGX and include a free soda, Super Saver Wednesdays with Orange helps customers pinch a few shillings. Of course, since it is also located in a mall, there are opportunities to go snack shopping pre-cinema.

However, if you’re looking for a more social movie-watching experience, a few bars and events around town have taken to showing movies on occasion. Mish Mash occasionally puts up its giant screen and airs movies such as Jaws or shows very important football matches. The Hub (not the cinema, but the workspace) also screens movies and the Alliance Francaise is well known for showcasing noteworthy films from time to time.

Whether you go during lunch dressed down in your ‘laundry day clothes’ or at night on a swanky date, you have your choice of options. So go see a movie! Eat all the popcorn! Drink some Pepsi in a glass bottle, and enjoy the show.

About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at lizabeth@livinginkampala.com.