In spite of the fact that anyone can buy a pirated DVD of just about any movie, there are still many people who thoroughly enjoy the experience of the wide screen and surround sound. There are many theaters that offer supreme seating comfort and great popcorn. Prices run from 70-80 RMB for early shows and many Tuesday shows, to 100-150 RMB for prime-time show times. Tickets can be purchased in advance for movies showing the current day only (you must do this in person at the cinema’s ticket office) – you cannot buy tickets for the next day’s screenings. In addition, online ticket sales have not appeared yet.
Movies in Shanghai will show foreign movies in the original language – there is almost no dubbing of voices. Of course, the government censors are actively keeping out movies that star actors who pursue activities the government believes are detrimental to Chinese people (such as Tibet, Tienanmen Square, and other issues). Censors will also reject movies that do not cut their sex scenes. They have been known to reject movies or parts of movies that show China in what they consider to be a bad light, such as Mission Impossible 3.
- UME International Cineplex in Xintiandi (6384 1122) features international movies in English, as well as the hot Chinese movies.
- Shanghai Film Art Centre: This is the theater that hosts China’s only international movie festival, the Shanghai International Movie Festival (160 Xinhua Lu, Xuhui, 6280 4088).
- Kodak CinemaWorld in Xujiahui (Metro City, 1111 Zhaojiabang Lu, 6426 8181) also offer English language films.
- Paradise Theatre on Anfu Road in the French Concession (6742 2606) has a 1950s décor, but does have popcorn.
- Paradise Warner Cinema City in Hongqiao (Grand Gateway, 1 Hongqiao Lu, 6407 6622) – a very nice and clean theater.
- Studio City on Nanjing Xi Lu, Jing’an (6218 2173).
- Cine Club de l’Alliance Francaise (297 Wusong Lu, Hongkou, 6357 5388) shows French films, located beside the Canadian Consulate in the Shanghai Centre on Nanjing Xi Lu (Shanghai Centre, 6279 8400)
- German Consulate (Pidecmo Tower, 318 Fuzhou Lu, Huangpu; 6391 2068) shows Germany’s latest hits.
- Miguel de Cervantes Library (198-208 Anfu Lu, Xuhui, 63213543) periodically screens Spanish films.
DVD rentals are virtually nonexistent in Shanghai. There are thousands of street vendors selling the latest Western movies long before they come to Asian cinemas.
Wherever expats go in the city, there will be a DVD store or a plethora of street vendors. The DVD-5 (standard quality sound) movies will sell for 5-10 RMB each. The DVD-9 (Dolby 5.1 surround sound) movies carry a price tag of 10-20 RMB. The Blu-Ray (high definition) movies are beginning to appear in Shanghai at prices of 80-100 RMB.
The main theatres in Shanghai are:
- Shanghai Circus World
Address: 2266 Gong He Xin Lu
Phone: 5665 3646
Located in northern Shanghai. The Circus World arena underwent complete renovation in 2005 to prepare for ERA: Intersection in Time, the multi-million dollar acrobat show that runs daily. This is an airy, swanky and modern venue for one of Shanghai’s most breath-taking shows.
- Shanghai Grand Stage
Address: 1111 Caoxi Bei Lu
Phone: 62172426, 62173055
This two-tier, 1000+ sq. meter stage is a multi-function indoor stadium – the first of its kind in China. Also doubling as a conference center, the venue can hold an audience of 10,000 – 12,000 people – depending on the event.
- Majestic Theatre
Address: 66 Jiangning Lu, near Nanjing Xi Lu
Phone: 6217 4409
This art deco theatre is one of Shanghai’s oldest and most lavish theaters, dating back to 1941. It has a capacity of over 1500. The Majestic plays host mainly to Chinese operas performed by local and touring groups. It is worth a visit just for the sheer glamour of the surroundings.
- Shanghai Grand Theatre
Address: 300 Renmin DaDao, near Huangpi Bei Lu
Phone: 6327 3094, 6386 8686
“Grand” by name and grand by design, this theater is at the heart of Shanghai’s performing arts scene. Ballet, drama and classical music are all performed here. Loved by foreigners and locals alike, the Grand is where you can go to see famous Broadways shows.
- Shanghai Oriental Arts Center
Address: 425 Dingxiang Lu, near Century Blvd
Phone: 5109 5091
This delightfully modern structure of glass, wood and steel is a new Pudong landmark for concerts and classical performances. Shaped like a flower, each petal marks an individual space: exhibition gallery, entrance hall, concert hall, performance hall, and opera hall.
Expats will not really understand the machinations of the actors and singers in Chinese Opera, but the spectacle is worth seeing. Shanghai has two venues for this type of entertainment:
- Kunju Opera Troupe: This style of opera – the Kun opera — is called the mother of Chinese Opera. Tickets range from 30 to 75 RMB for a performance.
- Yifu Theatre, 701 Fuzhou Road, near People’s Square, Phone: 6360 3195, 6351 4668 ext. 822. Also known as Tianchan Peking Opera Centre, this little theater offers a host of traditional Chinese operas. Shows change on a monthly basis.
- 50 Moganshan Road: This complex of old warehouses has become the main art district of Shanghai. It started with a few galleries and artists’ studios and now it is reminiscent of New York’s SOHO.
- Art Scene Warehouse: Huge art space with a good reputation. The art is high quality and the selection is varied and interesting. Some big name Chinese artists and many exciting young emerging artists.
- Shangart Gallery: Shangart was the earliest gallery for contemporary art in Shanghai. Very expensive.
- Shanghai Gallery Of Art: In 3 on the Bund mall complex, this gallery publicity states that it focuses on “brand name artists”.
Shanghai does not have a large number of museums. However, the following are worth visiting:
- Doland Museum: Shanghai’s first art museum to focus on contemporary art.
- Natural History Museum, which features a curious assortment of dinosaur bones and pickled human remains.
- Shanghai Art Museum: Often features high-quality international art exhibitions as well as good exhibitions by Chinese artists.
- Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art: Focuses on new media, and often holds exhibitions of non-Chinese artists.
- The Shanghai Museum, located at People’s Square, claims title to the most popular museum in Shanghai. Designed to look like an ancient Chinese vessel. The museum features superbly displayed, first-class exhibits of ancient Chinese artifacts and archeological finds with Chinese and English explanations. Almost an infinite number of treasures from China’s history. Amazing jade exhibit.
Most Popular Online Ticket Outlets
- My Piao
Tel: 5150 90000
- Shanghai Cultural Information & Booking Center
272 Fengxian Lu
Tel: 6218-6507, 6217-3055
Tickets can be bought on the day for all shows but obviously with the more popular shows it is better to buy in advance. To have the tickets delivered to you, you need to book at least 48 hours in advance. Prices vary from show to show and depend on the season: anything from 200 RMB to 2000 RMB per seat – depending on the seat’s view and the size and reputation of the show.
Recommended Local Resources
There are good local magazines that are published in English. They are all free and you will find them on many street corners and bookstores. All have their own lists of the best restaurants and night spots.
- That’s Shanghai
- Shanghai Talk
- City Weekend
- Time Out Shanghai
There are 2 newspapers that are published in English. Bear in mind that all newspapers in China are owned by the government.
- Shanghai Daily: sells for 2 RMB
- Shanghai Star: weekly
In addition, there are 4 websites that offer a great deal of information on the latest cultural and musical events.