State limitations on freedom of expression, the profusion of black market DVDs, and ready access to illegal download sites have taken their toll on China's film industry, but the "movie theater experience" has taken off in recent years and Beijing now has enough film fanatics to support a healthy number of theaters. Cherry Lane Movies (tel. 010/6530-5508 or 0/1390-113-4745; www.cherrylanemovies.com.cn; ¥20-¥40), run by a long-tenured and long-winded American expatriate, shows older and some new Chinese films with English subtitles on the weekends; films are listed at www.cherrylanemovies.com.cn and are screened at Yugong Yishan Zhangzizhong Lu 3 (tel. 010/6404-2711; metro: Zhangzizhong Lu). Box Cafe (Hezi Kafeiguan; Xi Wang Zhuang Xiaoqu 5; tel. 010/6279-1280), a smallish cafe near the east gate of Tsinghua University (Qinghua Daxue), offers free screenings on Sunday (screenings usually start at 3pm; ¥20) of Chinese independent and experimental films and a few foreign films of the same nature. Be sure to call ahead as screening days may change from month to month. Several full-scale theaters show undubbed Hollywood blockbusters (the ones that make it through the censors, anyway). Tickets are generally ¥30 to ¥120. The new MegaBox (basement of The Village at Sanlitun, Sanlitun Bei Lu 19; tel. 010/6417-6118; www.imegabox.com; metro: Tuanjie Hu) offers roughly 50% discounts off ticket prices when you sign up for a free membership card (huiyuan ka). Other options include Star City (Xinshi Ji Ying Cheng; inside Oriental Plaza on the east side of the mall; tel. 010/8518-6778; metro: Wangfujing), UME International Cineplex (Huaxing Guoji Yingcheng; Shuangyushu Xueyuan Nan Lu 44; tel. 010/8211-5566) just north of the Third Ring Road and southeast of Renmin University, and Wanda International Cinema (Wanda Guoji Dianying Cheng; 3/F, Building B, Wanda Plaza Jianguo Lu 93; tel. 010/5960-3399; metro: Da Wang Lu). Have your hotel concierge double-check that the movie you want to see has English subtitles.
When international film festival directors go looking for new, edgy films, they visit Hart Center of Arts (Hate Shalong; tel. 010/6435-3570; www.hart.com.cn) in the Factory 798 complex (see chapter 7), which hosts festivals with themes no one else is game to touch, and regularly screens movies at 8pm on Saturday (call to check). Most of the work shown here has not passed the censors.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.