English Vocabulary related to Movies

Learn English vocabulary related to movies and entertainment. We will also focus on different types of movies in English and English adjectives for describing movies. british council learn english

As a bonus, you will also learn English movie idioms

The show must go on, to run the show, to steal the show. 

Improve your English vocabulary, practice and be able to talk about the latest or your favourite movies in English.

English vocabulary related to movies

Adjectives for talking about movies

Despite all the home entertainment we can enjoy these days and in spite of all the many other distractions, going to the movies is still as enjoyable as ever. So let’s look at English vocabulary related to movies and learn some English words and phrases connected with movies.

And at the end, you will also find English movie idioms.

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What verb should we use to describe going to the movies?

Well, simply going to is sufficient as it sums up the exact action of leaving your home and travelling to the cinema to watch whatever is on.

We can of course as easily say

to see a movie or to watch a movie

I am going to see a movie with my friends, would you like to come along?

We are watching that old movie you like will you sit down and join us?

What movie are we watching tonight then? I saw that movie last week it is great.

English Vocabulary related to Movies

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useful words and phrases

multiplex – a cinema with many different screens so it can show many films at the same time

premiere – the first showing of a film before it’s available for people to see


If you have ever been invited to a film premiere, then you have had an amazing experience.

to book the seats /tickets – to reserve tickets

to give thumbs up – to write positive reviews

to pan something – to severely criticise something

cast –  all the actors/actresses in a film


A film premiere often includes members of the cast appearing to sign autographs and have their photos taken for the daily papers.

to take your seats – to find your row and number and sit down

general release – released in all cinemas and available for people to see or buy

usher – an official employee of the cinema who checks your tickets

director – somebody who tells the actors and technical staff what to do while making a film

English Vocabulary related to Movies

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English Vocabulary related to Movies

trailer – a series of short sections of a film that are shown to advertise it

opening scene – the first part of a film

remake – a modern version of an existing film

end credits – a list of people involved in making a film, usually shown at the end of it

soundtrack – the music that goes with a film

to take top billing – in a show/film when somebody is advertised as the most important actor/actress

dubbed – having the sounds/speech on a film changed to a different language


I don’t like watching films that have been dubbed, I prefer to hear the actors’ own voices.

subtitles – the text written in small captions at the bottom of the screen (especially in another language)


Subtitles for this film are available in French, Italian, and Spanish.

special effects – computer graphics or technical skills used in a film to create an illusion

visual effects – images created by special equipment

to bring out – to release a film, music album or book

the leading part – the main role

prop – an object used by the actors performing in a film

supporting cast – the other actors/actresses apart from the leading ones

sequel – a film (book, play) that continues the story of a previous version

prequel – a film (book, play) about events that happened before those of a previous popular film (book, play)

box office hit – a movie’s success in terms of the number of tickets sold

cameo /ˈkæm.i.əʊ/ –  a brief appearance of a famous actor in a film

English Vocabulary related to Movies

22 advanced English adjectives for describing movies

absorbing – very interesting, keeps your attention for a long time

action-packed – with a lot of thrilling incidents

captivating – very exciting

controversial – causing a lot of discussions or disagreement

convoluted – overcomplicated

dreary – dull and uninteresting

gripping – very interesting

hilarious – very funny

intriguing /ɪnˈtriːgɪŋ/ – very interesting in a way that arouses your curiosity

moving – causing strong emotions (usually in a good way)

outstanding – extremely good

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overrated – overvalued

predictable – pretty obvious what is going to happen in each scene

riveting /ˈrɪvɪtɪŋ/ – keeps you glued to the screen

second-rate – mediocre, unexciting, nothing to write home about

slow-moving – developing very slowly

spine-tingling – enjoyably frightening

spooky – frightening and ghostly

thought-provoking – stimulating you to think about something, often something you haven’t thought of before

thrilling – exciting, action-packed

underrated – much better than what people believe

uplifting – making you feel happy and cheerful

different types of movies in English

So what type of movies do you like? This is usually where the problem starts. Which film you go to depends on whether you can reach an agreement as to the type (genre) of movie that most people will enjoy. There are many genres.

horror movie – scary movies with frightening scenes

romcom – romantic comedies (with poor storylines usually)

SciFi or science fiction – any story related to the future or in outer space

thriller – a movie with suspense and murder plot or any story that thrills the viewer

comedy – a film that tries to make people laugh

biopic – a biographical movie about a real person (living or dead)

documentary – a film that shows a true story, often shown on television

western – very old fashioned American wild-west movies with cowboys and gunfights

action movie – a movie with car chases

Marvel movies – very popular movies full of superheroes like Spider-Man

period film – a movie about lives in the previous centuries, typically in the 19th century

English Vocabulary related to Movies

Here are some phrases related to going to the movies that you may find useful:

What’s on? – What can we see there?

What’s showing at the local? – What film is on at the local cinema to your home

When does it start?  – What time does it start at

How long is it running for? – How many weeks will it be on for

Who’s in it?  – Who are the key actors/actresses

What’s it about? – What genre or type of film is it

English Movie Idioms

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English idioms related to movies

And here are some English idioms related to movies:

the show must go on

Of course, show refers to the movie or theatre performance and even if there was a tragedy or serious event whilst filming the directors and actors in one voice would cry “the show must go on”. 

So today in our ordinary lives we use this phrase for the same reason.


Michael had spent weeks organising the business presentation but when the day arrived he had terrible flu and wasn’t sure whether he good present it properly. However, his boss told him to take some tablets and do it as it was very important. “The show must go on”.

to run the show

When someone is trying to run the show it usually means someone is trying to control everything. This could refer to a business or in a family or even just organising a party.


David and Mary were annoyed with Stephen, he kept emailing them with new ideas and plans for the family get-together at Christmas. “Who does he think he is? He always wants to run the show.”

to steal the show

When someone in the cast or in a performance (amateur or professional) performs above everyone else we usually say that they stole the show.


Sam was playing the part of one of the main characters. His voice and mannerisms (way of acting) was very impressive. The audience loved him and he really stole the show.

to get the show on the road

This refers to getting something started. 


Peter and Mary were planning a trip away with their 3 children. Once everything was ready, packed in the car and everyone seated, Mary said: “Right, let’s get the show on the road.”

to face the music

To accept the unpleasant results of your actions.


One of the technical team members broke some of the props and now has to face the music.

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More Information

For more information in English Expressions, English Phrasal Verbs and English Grammar Rules, check out the following links:

Common English Idioms about Knowledge

8 English Idioms about Relationships

Vocabulary Words related to Reading

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC and British council learn English

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