China's formerly closed art scene was somewhat liberalized in the late 1970s and is now partially open to foreign markets. The amount of Hollywood films shown each year are monitored and there is censorship on what is shown.
Chinese movies have struggled to compete in the international scene. Feng Xiaogang's "The Dream Factory" was able to bridge the gap between critical acclaim and successful commercialism and is noted as a turning point in Chinese movie making. Feng has become the most successful commercial director in the post-1997 era using ethnic Chinese co-stars like Rosamund Kwan, Jacqueline Wu, Rene Liu and Shu Qi.
Stellar International Cineplex
5/F, JinRMB Shopping Center, 1 RMBdalu, Haidian District
This is one of Beijing's most extravagant movie theater. Shows the latest in Chinese and foreign flicks. Showings early in the week offer promotions like: free Coke on Monday, half-price on Tuesday, free popcorn on Wednesday. Showings during the week before midday are half-price.
5/F, Xindong'an Market, 138 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District
Cheap and conveniently located, this theater offers 8 screens. Offers brand new movies for both Chinese films and foreign. Tickets on Tuesdays are half-price.
B1/F, Oriental Plaza, Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District
Shows the latest commercial releases and occasionally small-scale foreign movie festivals.
UME International Cineplex
Opposite Shuang'an Market, 44 KexuRMB Nanlu, Shuangyushu, Haidian District
This cinema was actually built by well-known Hong Kong filmmaker See-Yuen Ng. It is a five-floor building and famed for its state-of-the-art equipment and a 430-meter-tall screen. Half-price tickets are available before 20:30. The fourth floor has a cafe and a shop that sells movie paraphernalia.
East Gate Cinema
B1/F, East Gate Plaza, Dongzhongjie, Dongcheng District
Easy to find location and a garage that provides free two-hour parking makes this a popular cinema. The negative is that is fairly small and a bit more expensive then others. Tickets are half-price before noon every day, and it's also the only cinema in town to offer double-seats.
Further listings of cinemas can be found at Beijing Cinema Guide.
As with many things in Beijing, the city is so large that nightlife varies wildly depending on what area you are. The good news is that whatever you want, it's there.
Clubs usually demand higher prices than bars or pubs. A cover is usually demanded, from 20-30 RMB. Imported beer costs about RMB 100, with local beer costing quite a bit less. Cocktails are available at a range of qualities. Red wine is sold from RMB 80-200 and is usually served with ice and Sprite. Imported liquor usually costs about RMB 300-800. These are usually ordered as a mixed drink with sweet bottled green or red tea. Vodka, tequila and rum are less common, but sometimes available.
Beware that some unrepeatable establishments have bar girls whose job is to play drinking games to get customers to consume more. They get a commission on whatever customers buy and are not interested in a tryst; they are professional flirts, not prostitutes.
Each area has their own scene, but there are some spots more popular than others.
Sanlitun: This area is widely enjoyed among the expat and tourist crowd with many locals sprinkled in. The affluent and trendy Chinese class also make this place popular.
Hou Hai Bar Area: The latest and greatest, this area is becoming more popular than Sanlitun. It is in an idyllic setting around a man-made lake at the north of Beihai Park.
Dadu Bar Street: The moon river interweaves through the area, dividing it into two parts: the east street and the west street. There are over 40 bars of distinct character around this area.
A directory of clubs and night-life allows you to follow what's popular now and see the range of facilities.
Karaoke is hugely popular in China. It can be broadly split into two categories:
No-frills karaoke box: The more popular of the two, this is where a friends can rent a room and sing. Popular among students, these are cheap and fun with the right crowd. Booze is usually sold and there may be a group room for strangers to sing together.
KTV Lounge: These lounges are oriented toward businessmen entertaining clients or relaxing. The house provides anything and everything at a price. Over-the-top Roman and Egyptian themes are common, as are scintillatingly dressed professional karaoke girls. The "singers" charge by the hour and their services are not usually limited to just singing.