Avatar tickets in China most expensive in the world

Avatar ticket prices will go up next week in China because the demand is so great, which means the ticket prices for the movie in IMAX-3D will be the highest in the world! Chinese netizens are complaining that, people in China, where the average income is 20 times lower than the U.S., have to pay three times as much as the people in the U. S for the same ticket. There are even talks of viewing strikes on the BBS and this netizen on MOP speaks passionately about this issue.


What tickets are hard to get now days? It is not Spring Festival, it is “Avatar”.

Critics say “There will be no film like it”, but why is this movie so good? Also people say you must watch it in IMAX-3D, pay attention, not 3D or 2D, it’s IMAX-3D. There are maybe only 7 or 8 movie theaters in the entire country that have this technology (Editor’s note: This is not true). You can just imagine how in demand these tickets are. It is at this time, that lovers become enemies because they are not able to buy Avatar tickets, that fans are waiting in long lines in the snow for these tickets, here comes the news: “Avatar” ticket price is going up next week. In Shanghai, IMAX-3D ticket will be 180 yuan, in Beijing, 160 yuan. Friends told me that the ticket price already is at 200 yuan in Shanghai, and selling for 430 yuan in Dongguan, Guangdong province. The movie theater owners have said “The market decides the ticket price; rather than letting ticket scalpers to make the money, we might as well we raise the price ourselves.”


(Text in the picture:) Only China! When businesses need you, you are god! When businesses don’t care about you, you are just a dog!

Personally, I respect James Cameron very much. I would certainly pay to go to the theater to watch this movie. But I feel what Chinese movie theaters are doing is profiting from other people’s misfortunes, which is shameless! Very shameless!

Of course “Avatar” is awesome. This I do not need to say more. I heard that there are companies that are organizing their employees to see it as a company perk. A girl from Shanghai said, some people went there at 3, 4 in the morning to wait in line for tickets because you will not be able to buy them if you show up at 7. People from Chongqing said, only if you wait in line early in the morning like you would for buying train tickets, or else you will never be able to see this movie. Such a phenomena like this, only the difficulty of buying tickets for “Titanic” in the past can compare.

But all this only proves that the movie is awesome, and not that the movie theaters are the boss. Because of the hot trend of this movie, many theaters are ready to increase the ticket price from 130 yuan to 160 yuan, or 150 yuan to 180 yuan. In Shanghai, it’s already 200 yuan and 430 yuan in Dongguan, and still, the demand is exceeding the supply. This is too much. I strongly condemn movie theaters for using this opportunity to make money!

Some people might say, if this movie is so hot, then why are the movie theaters raising the ticket prices? If they raise the prices you can choose not to buy them, isn’t this pretty reasonable? This may sound reasonable on the surface, but in fact it’s not reasonable at all.

Why? It’s simple, viewers have no say in determining the ticket prices. You sell it for 150, or 180, it’s a one way street, viewers can only accept. Yes, they can choose not to buy, but to those people really want to watch it but are not watching because of the high price, it is a forced choice. No doubt, this is not fair for the viewers.

Maybe some people will say, when the demand exceeds supply, the prices will naturally be higher. If the ticket prices are too high and the viewers decline, then the movie theaters will naturally lower the prices. This is also a fallacy.

The reason is simple. The movie ticket prices in the recent years have already been unreasonably expensive. Normally there are not many viewers, but why aren’t the ticket prices going lower? The reason is, movie theaters are monopolized by a few large companies, although theaters in China are divided into several different companies, because of access barriers, as well as the relationship between movie theaters and the upstream industries (film industry, film investors, issuers and theaters all have the same “boss”), general capital cannot enter the market, and so the market cannot compete, and many companies are very likely to form price alliances. To understand this point, just think about the relationship between China mobile and China Unicom. Therefore, the movie ticket prices are never the market prices, then how can you say that market demands determines the price?

I admit, a ticket for 30 – 50 yuan (usually 60 -70 yuan in Hangzhou) is too expensive for many people. However if you think about the cost, maybe this price is reasonable for making a profit, perhaps any lower they will not profit anymore. The unreasonable part is that there is no different level of the ticket prices, for example, ticket prices should be different at different times of the day. And increasing the IMAX-3D ticket price to 170 yuan and 200 yuan is just pure robbery.

In short, if people have no bargaining rights, then there is no true market price. Many people are pissed off and waiting in line, yelling at the movie theater and admiring the movie at the same time. Maybe it’s like when people are enjoying a tasty dish, and are forced to pay exorbitant prices for it too. It’s just to make things worse! I heard in Shanghai people suggested to viewing strike of the movie on BBS, I support it 100%. But I have to say, in the current market, “viewing strike” is really just a way for you to vent, movie theaters will not care, if you don’t watch it, other people will. There is pretty much no way for people to unite and fight the movie theater, just like the common people cannot fight the utility companies (water, electric and gas companies). It was never fair to begin with.


Text in the picture:

In the U.S. Avatar IMAX-3D ticket is only 10 dollars! (Editor’s note: In the U.S., it’s actually about $13 for 3D tickets)

Americans’ average income is 20 time of Chinese people!

In Taiwan, Avatar family tickets are three for 100 rmb!

Taiwanese person’s average yearly income is 170,000 dollars.

In China, Avatar IMAX-3D ticket will be 180 yuan.

Strongly oppose! Calling on Chinese netizens to boycott the movie for this shameless act!


Also see related: ‘Avatar’ Movie, Chinese Reactions & Long Lines In Shanghai from chinaSMACK

      1. nope. i went to see it at 22:45 so it was less expensive. Normal price is 120rmb. but if you don’t buy a 3D ticket it can be as low as 40rmb. And by the way this is a really new cinema.

  1. The normal price in Guangzhou is 90rmb (a friend from Shenzhen also paid 90rmb). We can easily get some discount (depend on the day and on the time) and only pay 60rmb.

  2. I was in the same situation as Mike,here in Shenzhen,the normal digital version of Avatar is 90rmb,you can get certain proporation of discount if you hold a member card,I use my card to pay the ticket at half price,45rmb,and this also depend on the day and time you going to watch the movie,and for 3D version,the price is dramatically high,guess how?
    ¥130!!It’s no different to that of plunder.

  3. Anna i watched it in SF too! but i paid $14 it was just 3-D, whats the difference between imax and regular 3d? i don tlike metreon


  4. hey FRED< MIKE< AND WHOEVER else is an American living in china right now, why are you guys living there? i tried to live there but couldnt accept the fact that i only make a few hundred u.s. dollars in a month's salary there…………..i rather work in u.s. save up like 10 grand, and roll out there like i did last year and splurge like a king, having a standby taxi waitin for me all day, eating at 6 star grand hyatt hotel buffet, yummmmmmmy thats right ***** explain yourselves biscuit eaters if you have the time , i am too curious, dont tell me ur there for the cultural experience

    1. I live in China. You were only able to make a few hundred USD a month here? Were you working at an illegal ESL center or something? Even working at a second-rate English center you can clear almost US$2000/month working part time- and you were only able to earn a few hundred? And I’m not going to even ask if you had a proper work permit.

      Us expats with “normal” jobs look down on English teachers somewhat. People who get hired to teach English having no more qualification than a Caucasian face is why. You give real teachers, the ones with But even they are able to live a life or relative luxury and make more in a week than what you only managed to make in a month.

      The fact you think $10,000 lets you live like a king in China says much about your mindset. I.e. you had a standby taxi waiting for you when if you were really living like a king you’d have a private car parked out front- perhaps with a full time driver behind the wheel. None of this taxi BS. And eating at a 6 star hotel buffet? You are still eating at a buffet! That means getting up to fetch your own food from a public trough like a commoner! Instead of sitting in a private room at a seafood restaurant with a mess of Audis, Buicks, and Mercs out front, many of them with white license plates (not that you have a clue what that indicates) like folks who really have money in China do.

      As to why I’m here? Might be hard for you to imagine, but there are plenty of expats here who jobs where instead of several hundred a month we earn several thousand a month. And we live comfortable lives without having to “save up like 10 grand” to go live a fantasy for a few weeks before returning to a crap job back home. Cultural experience has nothing to do with it. We are here for the tasty biscuits!

      1. Well,you really to the point,although I’m not quite understand your remarks(perhaps I’m not quite used to thoughs of that of an English native speaker).I believe different people went to different area to live or work does have there own reason or purpose.

        I assume the purpose of this post is just show and indicate basic difference of living cost for people living in different countries.I don’t know how your real condition like,but for ordinary Chinese civilian,the proporation of their earning and consume ability tremendously imbalanced.

        I thought it’s the sharp inequality of this that annoy most of the people here.

    2. Oppos,I assume you misunderstand who I am,the fact is I’m not an American living in China,I’m only an average Chinese man with earing scrape a living here in China.

      Truth is even Martian know the massive difference of living condition between China & USA.

      1. Why the massive difference in living condition between China and US Fred? China is now the second biggest exporter and economy in the world.

  5. I’m not too sure how fair it is to compare the American theatre price to the Chinese one simply based on the per capita income of the respective countries.

    People in American have a long habit of watching movies in theatres that the supply, in terms of the no of theatres, probably matches the demand well in major cities and towns. Even with a sudden surge of demand from a good movie like avatar, the supply can still handle the surge by extending the showing times so there is no need to raise the price of tickets.

    In China, I suspect the habit is quite different that it is not the norm to go watch movies in theatres so there are few theatres.

    Anyway, I think it’s more complicated.

    1. In the USA for standard screens a movie like Avatar has the same ticket price as a low-budget romantic comedy.

      And seating is first-come, first-served. You might buy your tickets 8 hours before showtime but there is no guarantee that you’ll have good seats to watch the movie. The only way to get good seats is to be the first into the theater. Where you’ll sit through easily 20 minutes of commercials before the movie starts.

  6. Just endlessly greedy Chinese with no self-restraint or sense of fairness, not a new story.

    1. You are right, haven’t you heard this,people here in China never process any anction that lack of disinterests? Everyone here vorciously on the make!!!

      Sense of self-restraint? sense of fairness? what a joke! when it comes to China,just a myth.Most of our society pheonmenons were nothing but a disgrace to the tradition to this great nation.

  7. It’s not like this is food, water, air, or clothing. It’s a movie! Pay the price to see it, or don’t! Download the thing or spend three kuai for a pirated DVD.

    Only lifeless morons whine on and on about this like they are being FORCED to spend the money.


    Heiney: Out.

  8. I believe that it says that the average person’s income in Taiwan is $17,000, not $170,000.

  9. “Because of the hot trend of this movie, many theaters are ready to increase the ticket price from 130 yuan to 160 yuan, or 150 yuan to 180 yuan.”

    Is this really that expensive? I remember when I was in Nanjing in one of the shopping centres and the cinema on the top floor wanted 200 yuan to see Transformers 2 as it was just after it was released.

    1. I think they’re talking about the IMAX 3-D showings. There are also non-IMAX 3-D showings and non-Imax, 2-D showings.

      I just watched it yesterday in a nearby mall, here in Nanjing: 3-D in a normal (not IMAX) theater. Since we already had a 10 RMB discount card, the tickets each cost 40 RMB instead of 100 RMB. Total cost: 50 RMB per ticket including cost of the coupon card; 100 RMB for those too lazy to obtain one.

      I have to say I’m not entirely empathetic to the complaints voiced in the post. When there are a total of three prices to choose from for three levels of service (2-d, 3-d normal theater, 3-d IMAX)–and that’s before we consider regional pricing differences or discounts and other factors–this just seems like a classic example of how an industry SHOULD react to price sensitivity. For people who want to watch the film and their budgets, a no-frills 2-D option should be sufficient. For those who want to experience the 3-d ‘sensation’, the 3-D provided in a normal theater should also be sufficient. For the Chinese elite, a couple hundred RMB for the top-end service is less than they would spend on a normal night out at fancy restaurants and clubs.

      Complaints about monopolistic behavior are more reasonable, but that’s the situation for any kind of media outlet in China. You could just as easily complain about the lack of selection of movies shown in Chinese theaters (another example of the governmental monopoly and artificial hold on market forces), but that clearly won’t change any time soon.

      Certainly I can understand the complaint about the comparison between prices for this service in China and prices elsewhere, in richer countries. But that complaint ignores the fundamental difference in consumption of film products in China compared with elsewhere.

      In the US, theater is an entertainment venue geared for the average person. Diverse private theaters compete to offer diverse selection of films at competitive rates. Discount theaters showing films some months after release date allow low income earners to watch popular movies as well. IMAX, like in China, is a specialty experience, but IMAX owners are wise not to jack up IMAX ticket prices too high over the normal prices in a time of recession–Americans are currently more price-sensitive than normal.

      In China, pirated DVDS are an entertainment option for the common person: cinema is an option geared mostly for the upper-middle class and elite. Everyone gets to see the movies they want to see, but the rich get the added “experience” of watching in a theater for a premium price. In this case, the specialness of watching this film in 3-D in an IMAX environment has been marketed well, so there is increased interest by the larger public in partaking. Thus, the prices are shocking to some people, and there’s the usual grumbling about any perception of “being cheated”, but the price insensitive (elite) demographic this 3-D IMAX service is really aimed at is unlikely to care, and prices are unlikely to come down as long as showings are sold out.

      My guess is that this particular movie will remain in cinemas longer than normal (in China), and prices should eventually come down as audiences become sparser.

  10. If you haven’t already seen it, Avatar is not worth RMB180. Sure there are some cool special effects and the 3D is different, but it is pretty much eye candy after that.
    At the Times Square cinema Shanghai it is RMB100, but you can get it for half that if you ask them for the membership card (RMB10) before you buy it. Sit in the front row and you get a sore neck, sit further back and you will be behind some moron who answers his mobile phone during the screening. Tough choice.

  11. It’s really not cheap to watch Avatar in IMAX or 3D version these days in Shanghai . As I know, the price is not that crazy at the beginning two days, while as many critics and viewers are highly recommend it – almost all my friends have viewed this movie give 9-10 points(10 points is full) , then more and more people are interested in and can’t wait to go to the theater (actually including me, while i don’t think the price is reasonable and will wait for a few days).

    As you mey know, the most powerful thing in China is people, many many people. when many of them are interested in one thing, the demand are huge and horrible – impossible thing will usually be possible – not only the global highest price.

    There is another story i was told: In Peace theater, recognized as one of the best IMAX or 3D theaters in Shanghai, if you want to get a ticket without wasting you time for waiting in line, you can buy the ticket from others called Huangniu(黄牛 in chinese, the person who is specially engaged in buy tickets at lower or original price and then sell with a high fee charge ) at a fee of RMB 150, of course, you need to pay the ticket price of RMB 200 as well. and the demand to these tickets are not less.

  12. Regular price for 3d at imax theater outside tokyo = JPY2200 = CNY162.57. We pay JPY1800 for a regular (non-imax, non-3d) movie with no discounts. We don’t get price changes for hot movies.

    Since everyone in China seems to be saying that they paid well under 180, I’m gonna contend that Japan is paying the most. We always do.

  13. it costs about 6-7 USD to watch 3D IMAX Avatar in a movie thater in Lithuania. Average sallary is about 800-1000 USD

    1. hi med , is the avatar still showing in lithuania? i am going there before the end of january…by the way it is in the original language right?

  14. Movies aren’t essential elements of survival. When half the people in China is still suffering from hunger sometimes, I don’t have a problem with people deterred by high movie ticket price.

    That being said, I also have no problems with the ticket price lowered. There’s no reason why one movie is being made so much more expensive than all the others, even if it is a good movie.

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