HK mar­tial arts movie in spot­light over huge box of­fice re­ceipts

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ip Man 3, a re­cently re­leased Hong Kong mar­tial arts film, is un­der scru­tiny for box of­fice fraud, with al­le­ga­tions that the movie’s box of­fice re­ceipts have been ar­ti­fi­cially hyped.

Of­fi­cials with the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Press, Pub­li­ca­tion, Ra­dio, Film and Tele­vi­sion launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion this month, and said they would look into the po­ten­tial is­sues of faked ticket sales, and the se­vere ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties of box of­fice fluc­tu­a­tions.

The fake box of­fice re­ceipts won’t be counted, and im­proper mar­ket­ing be­hav­ior will be dealt with ac­cord­ing to the law, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said in a state­ment.

The ac­tion movie, which was re­leased on March 4, has ruled the Chi­nese box of­fice with nearly 600 mil­lion yuan ($92 mil­lion) in rev­enue in just six days.

In March, of­ten a low sea­son for movie sales, its box of­fice per­for­mance was be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in busi­ness mag­a­zine Cai­jing, screen­ings of IpMan3 were bizarre since the tick­ets were sold out quickly for un­pop­u­lar times, such as in the morn­ing, at mid­night, but the cin­e­mas were re­ported to be vir­tu­ally empty.

The re­port said that Shang­haiKuailu In­vest­ment Group, the in­vestor in the film, is in­flat­ing ticket sales as part of a strat­egy to raise cap­i­tal.

Kuailu re­sponded in a state­ment that IpMan3 is a great film and there is no need to fabri­cate the box of­fice.

In fact, it is al­leged that Kuailu tends to se­cu­ri­tize its box of­fice as­sets, and raise funds from its peer-to-peer and crowd­fund­ing plat­forms, based on box of­fice ex­pec­ta­tions.

In ad­di­tion, Shang­hai Shenkai Pe­tro­leum Equip­ment Corp Ltd is re­ported to have of­fered to buy a fund, and the fund’s sub­ject of in­vest­ment is the box of­fice rights of IpMan3.

In­dus­try sources said a few block­buster Chi­nese films, such as Lost in Hong Kong andMon­sterHunt, have been the sub­ject of al­legedly in­flated box of­fice sales.

The phe­nom­e­non is an un­spo­ken rule in the in­dus­try, since many film pro­duc­ers will re­serve some costs as box of­fice al­lowances.

Movie­go­ers can usu­ally buy film tick­ets at a dis­count, and pro­duc­ers will sub­si­dize the re­main­der of the full price, which can be re­garded as a pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­ity.

How­ever, if there is no real de­mand to see the film, but pro­duc­ers buy the tick­ets in ad­vance, il­le­gal.

Peng Kan, re­search and con­sult­ing di­rec­tor at Leg­end Me­dia Co, a Bei­jing-based con­sult­ing agency, said: “Fabri­cat­ing box of­fices is not new, but this time the ap­proach is quite ex­plicit.

“The box of­fice of the first week is key, as it de­cides the later screen­ing sched­ules of a film at cin­e­mas. Hyp­ing box of­fices can help a film with its mar­ket­ing cam­paign.”

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