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[How To]: Buy Movie Tickets On Your Phone

Crucial information for booking your spot in the theaters.
Last updated: 2020-08-12

One or two notable movies are being released in August. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham join forces to fight a genetically enhanced Idris Elba and cause millions of dollars' worth of damage in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (released August 23), while an 80-something-year-old Clint Eastwood decides to traffic hard drugs in The Mule (August 26). This month will also see the truly epic-looking Chinese version of Independence Day Shanghai Fortress, tipped to be China's next blockbuster after Wandering Earth, released on August 9. If you haven't already, watch the trailer immediately. It involves aliens attacking Shanghai and blowing up all your favorite landmarks.

Definitely not to be missed, which is why knowing how to buy tickets right now is crucial information. We wrote an article about how to book movie tickets in 2016, but things have changed a little then. Nowadays, pretty much every Chinese app has a function for this and will either use Gewara or Taopiaopiao as their ticket-selling platform. This article will cover the two biggest hitters, WeChat and Alipay. Sherpa's too, 'cause it's the only platform that uses English.


Ticketing on WeChat used to be done through WePiao, but they've switched the platform to Gewara which is also available as a separate app if you search "猫眼" in your app or Play Store. Accessing it on WeChat is very simple. Just head to WeChat Pay, then scroll down to Movie Tickets. Hit that and it will take you to the Gewara home page.

Picking your film is when a little Chinese comes in handy, though you can sometimes tell what the movie is from observing the picture. Let's assume that you want to see Shanghai Fortress (上海堡垒 in Chinese) as soon as it comes out. Tapping its icon will bring up a list of theaters that will be showing it. To double-check you are choosing the right place, look up the address of the theater you want beforehand to match it with the right one on the list.

For example, if you want to see it at the Premiere Cinema in the Kerry Centre, tap the second option on this list then select the time you would like to see it on August 9 which is the date of the first viewing. The next stage is picking your seat, after which the app will ask for your phone number to confirm a few details with your WeChat.

Most of the options on the payment page will be irrelevant to you if you don't already know what they are, so unless you want to buy popcorn in advance, hit "确认支付" which will take you to WeChat payment.

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Alipay's ticketing is done through Taopiaopiao (淘票票), the ticketing arm of Taobao, which is all owned by Alibaba. Your home page should have a little red icon that says Movies underneath it. Tapping this will take you to the Taopiaopiao home page which has a drag menu of all the films currently available to see.

Scroll across until you reach the film you want, then tap its icon to proceed to a synopsis page complete with a trailer too – a feature WeChat doesn't have. 1-0 Alipay. Watch the trailer if you want, then tap "特惠抢票" to get your tickets. This is where you select your theatre and time.

The seat prices will vary depending on your choice, but there is little disparity between the prices on each platform. Both use about the same amount of Chinese too, so essentially it's down to personal preference on which one you choose. Hit "立即付款" to pay with Alipay.

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How to Retrieve Tickets at the Theatre

Every movie theater listed in these apps has touchscreen kiosks, usually a few, where you can pick up the tickets. The kiosks sometimes run different software and have different layouts, but the process is basically the same. Enter your ticket number, hit confirm, and the machine will print out your tickets. Some theaters may send out two numbers instead of one that need to be combined when entering them into the kiosk, or you'll get a QR code that needs to be scanned. It's pretty easy either way, and someone will always be standing by to help if needed.

There you have it. Now you can kick back safe in the knowledge that you'll soon be watching the Pearl Tower get blown to bits by aliens in 3D.

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This How-To guide is work in progress, we are constantly updating it as we receive new information. We rely on readers like you (yes YOU). If you find this guide useful please help us improve it by adding comments in each step or by clicking the "Verify" link if you find the information provided to be correct.