Beijing residents to order tickets via phone

BEIJING — China is coming around to the idea of going to the movies as an entertainment form and in the latest effort to improve the quality of the cinema-going experience, Beijing residents will soon be able to order tickets using their cell phones.

“People log onto the ‘net through cell phones, then choose cinema seats, watch trailers, browse information for new films and read cinema introductions,” said Guan Zheng, publicity chief of Xingmei Digital Media, which will provide the service.

For many years, Chinese cinemas were dirty, draughty places for showing propaganda dirges and the availability of cheap pirate DVDs kept most auds at home. But these days, joint ventures between big Western chains and local entrepreneurs have improved the quality of movie houses in the big cities.

By the end of 2005, China had over 3,000 cinemas, 1,243 of them modern cinemas, with 2,668 screens and 36 cinema chains, according to China Daily newspaper.

The new ticket distribution system is aimed at heading off long lines for blockbusters at peak periods.

Movie fans also get cheaper tickets if they book using the service. The service will go on trial at Beijing’s Xingmei International cinema for a month before being put into use at other cinema chains.

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