• Big companies are thinking out of the box by implementing online movie ticketing.

Big companies are thinking out of the box by implementing online movie ticketing. (Photo : Reuters)

As many Chinese consumers are paying digitally for a real-world service like taxi rides or food delivery, online ticketing companies joined the bandwagon by giving moviegoers huge discounts.

Beijing-based market research firm Analysys International confirmed that, in the first quarter of the year, more than half of Chinese moviegoers bought tickets online.

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The poll further found that $4.77 billion was spent on movie tickets in China last year, of which about $2.2 billion were online transactions.

An example scenario of how Chinese moviegoers by tickets online was narrated by Li Xue, a 31-year-old drug company employee in Wuhan in central China.

Li bought a ticket through her phone for the latest installment of the sci-fi movie “The Divergent.” The ticket costs only $2, much less than if she had bought it at the theater.

“Why bother to line up at the movie theater for a ticket ever again?” said Li.

The woman added that those online ticketing sites offer such cheap tickets and can reserve a good seat for her.

One of the main reasons for the rapid surge in China’s online ticket buying is a price war led by China’s three Internet giants--Baidu Inc., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.--which all have their own movie-ticketing sites.

These companies have also bought into existing platforms. Alibaba, for instance, has taken a stake in Groupon-like Meituan.com, which owns the online movie-ticketing site Maoyan.com.

The huge discounts is part of a trend that is already making broad aspects of Chinese life cheaper, especially for so-called online-to-offline, or O2O, services.

For consumers this has been a win-win, a news agency reported. In a country of crowds at all major tourist sites, travel sites Ctrip and Qunar are also giving half-price tickets to the Forbidden City or the Great Wall that mean buyers bypass the lines.