How to Buy Movie Tickets in China
Are you tired of walking into the movies and having to shell out ¥100+ per ticket on the door? If so, here're three different ways you can save money by buying tickets online, even if you don't speak a lick of Chinese!
City Weekend (Includes Additional Service Charge)*
If you live in Shanghai and are happy paying a minimum of an extra ¥20 per ticket in return for English service then this is probably the option for you. If you want a wider choice of cinemas across the country at a cheaper price then scroll down to the Chinese options (Alipay, WeChat, Dianping) below.
First click here to visit the City Weekend ticketing page. Once you're there, scroll down to "Cinema" and click on the movie you want to watch.
Next, select the date you want to see the movie (highlighted in green) followed by which district of Shanghai you'd like to watch the movie (highlighted in red).
Once you've found your cinema, select the screening time by clicking "book"
Select your seats:
Scroll down to confirm your order
Enter your card details / scan the WeChat QR code and you're done.
ALIPAY - 支付宝
Once you've opened Alipay, click on the "Movies" button on the main page. If you can't find it you might have to click the "All" button first and then look for "Movies" in there.
In the "Movies" section of the app everything turns to Chinese but it's pretty easy to navigate. First tap on "影院" (highlighted) to find movie theatres in your area.
Next, choose the cinema you want to visit. The cinemas are listed in order of their proximity to you, but if your favourite cinema is across the city you can tap the search button (highlighted) and find it that way.
After you've selected your preferred movie theatre, scroll through the movies (highlighted red) to find the one you want to watch. Once you've tapped on your movie of choice, touch the "购票" button (highlighted green) to start booking your tickets.
On this page tap the seats you'd like to book. White seats are free, red are already booked, green are the ones you've selected and the dotted line denotes the best place in the cinema to watch the movie from. Once you've chosen your seats, tap the big blue button on the bottom of the page.
These are the terms and conditions. Click the blue button on the bottom of the page to process your payment and reserve the tickets.
Once your payment has been processed you'll be sent a reservation code via SMS. When you get to the movie theatre type the long number (highlighted) into the Gewara machines and your tickets will print out.
WECHAT - 微信
The most widely used payment system in China after Alipay. WeChat and Alipay's ticketing systems are almost identical, so this time we'll walk you through buying cinema tickets by selecting the movie first and then finding the theatre.
First load WeChat, then tap on "Me" (highlighted red) on the bottom right of the phone. Once there, click on "Wallet" (highlighted green).
In "Wallet" scroll down to until you see the "Movie Tickets" button (highlighted).
Scroll down until you see the poster for the movie you want to watch. If it's already out you'll be able to buy tickets by tapping on "购票" (highlighted red) if it's not out yet but you can reserve tickets you can tap "预售" (highlighted green).
After clicking "购票" (highlighted red above) you'll be given a synopsis of the movie, skip it and tap the big green button at the bottom of the page.
Next up is the movie theatre selection page. By default the theatres are listed by their by proximity to you. You can however use the search bar on the top of the page to find a cinema that doesn't appear on the list.
Once you've chosen your cinema you can choose the date (highlighted red) and time (highlighted green) that you want to watch the movie.
Next, choose your seats. The white seats are free, the red are taken, the green are the ones you've selected, and the dotted line denotes the centre of the room. After you've selected your seats, tap on the green button on the bottom of the page.
Click on the green button to confirm that you agree to the terms and conditions.
After you've paid for your tickets you'll be sent a text message that looks like this. Put the long code (highlighted red) in a ticket machine in your selected cinema to pick up your tickets.
DIANPING - 大众点评
This is more of a niche choice for the two of you out there who don't have WeChat Wallet or Alipay but do have Apple Pay.
First up, load Dianping and click on "猫眼电影" (highlighted).
Scroll through the movie posters (highlighted) until you find the film you want to watch.
Once you've selected the film, choose which date you'd like to watch the movie on (highlighted red), then choose the cinema you'd like to watch the movie at (highlighted green). Again, the cinemas are sorted by their proximity to you.
Next, select your screening time (highlighted red).
On this page you'll be asked to select your seats. The white seats are free, red are taken, the green are the ones you've selected and the solid line denotes the centre of the theatre. Once you've chosen your seats press the orange button at the bottom of the page.
Make sure you enter the correct phone number on this page, then press the orange button again.
On this last page you'll be able to given the choice to pay for your tickets using WeChat Wallet, UnionPay or ApplePay. Unless you have a Chinese ID card you won't be able to pay with your UnionPay card directly. If you've set up your UnionPay card with Apple Wallet however, you can pay for your tickets that way.
Scan your fingerprint.
After you've paid for your tickets you'll be sent a text message similar to the one below. Once you get to the movie theatre enter the long number (highlighted) into the ticket collection machine to pick up your tickets.
*Shanghai Expat and City Weekend are owned by the same parent company - Ringier China.