For all cinemas, it is important to call and ask whether a film is dubbed or in the original language. Staff handling the phones will have limited English but there is usually another staff member on hand that may take your call if you need language help. Some cinemas are more likely to have English-speaking staff than others, notably Megabox at The Village.
Schedules are usually in Chinese so unless you can read the Chinese, it’s best to make sure with the cinema when you call. Tickets can usually be bought in advance at the box office or with a phone call to the cinema. There is usually a delay for blockbusters to hit the cinemas here. Since the government controls media, certain movies may not be shown in China even if it is a blockbuster elsewhere and certain portions of movies that are deemed inappropriate will be censored.
Beijing APM: 138 Wangfungjing Dajie, Dongcheng District. (8511 4393).
East Gate Cinema: B1/F, Bldg B, East Gate Plaza (behind the Poly Theatre), Dongzhong Jie, Dongcheng District. (6418 593).
Star City: B1/F Oriental Plaza, Wangfungjing Dajie, Dongcheng District. (8518 6778).
Stellar International Cineplex: 4/F Bldg A, Wangjing International Business Center, 9 Wangjing Jie, Chaoyang District (5920 3788) or 5/F, Golden Resources Shopping Center, 1 Yuanda Lu, Haidian District (8887 2743).
UME International Cineplex: 44 Kexueyuan Nanlu, Shuangyushu, Haidian District. (8211 5566). http://www.bjume.com
Wanda Cinema: 3/F, Bldg B, Wanda Plaza, 93 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District. (5960 3399)
The Village’s Megabox Cinema: Basement, Courtyard 19, Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District (6417-6118). http://www.imegabox.com
Solana’s Saga Cinema: No.6, Chaoyang Park Road (5905 6868). http://www.sagacinema.com
There are no DVD rental outlets in Beijing since DVD’s are usually sold for only about 10-20 RMB per disc at DVD stores. DVD quality is usually good to great if you buy them from actual storefronts (and not vendors on the street). If a DVD proves not to work properly, most stores with make an exchange with no hassles whatsoever. Small DVD stores are found all over the city, most notably in expat-frequented areas like the shopping markets.
Tickets for operas, theater, and ballet can often be bought at Ticketmaster or other ticket outlets, depending on the performance. If they don’t carry the tickets, the venue itself will sell tickets at their own box office. Tickets for popular shows (like limited run Broadway shows and operas) can sell out quickly so should be bought as soon as possible. Often, certain classes of tickets (better seats) will be sold out first, even if it’s the most expensive ticket. So unless you don’t mind the cheap seats, it’s best to make note of the performances you don’t want to miss at each venue and ask when tickets go on sale. Check out http://www.piao.com.cn (has English section) for a listing of live events.
National Center of the Performing Arts: 2 Chang’An Jie, Xicheng District. (6655 0000). http://www.chncpa.org
Poly Theatre: Poly Plaza, 14 Dongzhimen Nandajie, Dongcheng District. (6500 1188 ext 5126). http://www.polytheatre.com
Beijing Concert Hall: 1 Beixinhua Jie, Xicheng District. (6605 7006).
Time Out Beijing. Check out the monthly magazine’s listings in the “Music” and “Performance” section for suggestions and current performances. Also available on their website. http://www.timeoutbeijing.com
TheBeijinger. This monthly also has a comprehensive restaurant listing in its “In Print and Cinema” and “Stage” section. Read performance reviews and features in the publication or online. http://www.thebeijinger.com.
CityWeekend. Published twice a month, this entertainment guide also publishes reviews on restaurants and eateries around town. The “Film and Stage” section will list current and upcoming performances to check out. Check out their website for restaurant listings as well. http://www.cityweekend.com.cn
LocalNoodles.com. http://www.localnoodles.com An online city guide that aims to help people (re)discover Beijing through the insights and recommendations of Beijingers. The user-generated content mainly featured restaurant reviews when first launched but has since evolved to include recommendations on places to drink, play, and shop.