Before I begin, I want to be very clear. This post is not a complaint. If you’re lucky enough to live on an island with a movie theater (which I currently am), you don’t complain. Why? Because if you’re not lucky enough to live on an island with a movie theater (which I’ve experienced in the past), you sound like you’ve been living alone in the Space Station like an out-of-touch lunatic every time you go back to the mainland to see friends and family.

People constantly throw out references, lines, and jokes that go right over your head. Everyone at the party is laughing but you. It’s like middle school all over again. When you didn’t know what that word  meant, so you just laughed along with the three pretty blonde girls you desperately wanted to be friends with. You have to ask what a particular movie is about only to find out it was a beloved Oscar winner that everyone in the entire world saw, loved, laughed, and cried over. Except for you. And because if you live on an island without a movie theater, don’t even begin to think you may have the ability to rent movies. You have neither. You only have the occasional Season Four of Everybody Loves Raymond  that your mom mailed you in a box that also included Twizzlers and extra curry powder. Even though you’ve never seen Everybody Loves Raymond.  So this is not a complaint. I count my blessings that I can go see Edward and Bella find eternal bliss if that’s what I so choose to do with my Friday night.

But island movies aren’t without their challenges. So if you’re thinking of going, on St Thomas, that is, here’s a handy checklist of things you may want to be prepared for. Sometimes knowing is half the battle. Heed my advice and you’ll greatly improve your island movie viewing experience.

1. Bring a parka. And wear closed-toe shoes with socks. It’s often so icy cold in the theater (I’m assuming to counteract the hatefully hot temperatures outside) that without an extra blanket and a wool hat, you might be too uncomfortable to sit through the entire movie. You think I’m kidding. My friend brings blankets and wool hats – she’s fun to sit next to. In arctic conditions, hypothermia can begin to set in after 20-30 minutes. The average movie is 90-120 minutes. You do the math.

2. Make sure you wear a tank top under your parka. Because every now and then, they must have someone other than the local penguin controlling the thermostat. Be prepared for all conditions. That’s all I’m saying.

3. If the power goes out halfway through your movie, don’t be alarmed. This happens all the time. Just sit quietly in the dark for about 20 minutes in case it comes back on. Maybe throw popcorn at the head of your friend that happens to be sitting four rows in front of you to pass the time. If it doesn’t eventually come back on, an employee will come in and tell you to just forget about it and try some other day. They’ll write on your ticket that you can come back and see only that specific movie again. But make sure you come back in a day or two, because the movies change frequently. If you can’t make it back before your movie switches out at the end of the week, you’re out of luck. Even if you only got to see the first half hour.

4. Pay no attention to the rats eating the stale popcorn off the floor. Don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.

5. If you were hoping to see an Academy Award nominee, don’t be too picky about which one. They’ll get one or two eventually. Usually about a month after the Oscars.

6. If there’s a movie playing that you really want to see, change your weekend plans and go see it immediately. Movies usually only stay a week – two if you’re lucky, three if it has wizards and muggles, and possibly four if it has a saw-weilding psychopath cutting off innocent victims’ body parts. Possibly.

And there you go. An easy guide to seeing movies in the Virgin Islands. It’s really all about managing expectations and being prepared. Keep these six things in mind and you won’t be (too) disappointed as you prepare to take in all of the upcoming summer blockbusters, island-style. Or, more realistically, seeing the four summer blockbusters that actually make it to your island.

Written By:

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Thomas, USVI

Island Girl Since:


Originally Hails From:


Melissa is a St. Thomas, USVI-based 30-something and a 10 year island veteran who can’t endure even the smell of shrimp. It all stems from a childhood experience where a beloved grandfather told the once shrimp-loving four year old that shrimp was “yucky”. Her husband has requested multiple times that she undergo exposure therapy on the issue, but she refuses out of tribute to her grandfather. Melissa started her island adventures on a sparsely populated outer island in the Bahamas before moving further South to the “big city” of St. Thomas a few years later. The early island experience of dependence on a weekly mail boat to bring supplies (and the lack of Target) cultivated a realization that you can make almost anything you need. That means you can regularly find her feasting on fresh baked bread and homemade peanut butter and jam.

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