Amid Tick­et­ing Fraud, China Box Of­fice Up 51% in Q1

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

China’s box of fice rev­enues grew 51% in the first quar­ter of 2016, Chi­nese state ra­dio said on Sun­day, al­though a tick­et­ing scandal has cast doubt on the real size of the coun­try’s boom­ing movie mar­ket.

To­tal sales of tick­ets in China were 14.5 bil­lion yuan (£1.57 bi l l ion) i n t he first three months of the year, boosted by a 6.9 bil­lion yuan haul in Fe­bru­ary as millions f locked to cin­e­mas over the Lu­nar New Year holiday, said China Na­tional Ra­dio. De­spite gov­ern­ment cen­sor­ship a nd a l i mit of 34 for­eig n films a year, Hol­ly­wood has be­come in­creas­ingly re­liant on China’s rapidly grow­ing box of­fice as US mar­ket g rowth has st a l led. I n Fe­bru­ary, Chi­nese sales topped the US for the first time, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency.

Ea­ger to cash in on the boom, and cre­ate a ri­val to Hol­ly­wood that could pro­mote Chi­nese val­ues, do­mes­tic com­pa­nies like ecom­merce giant Alibaba Group Holdi ng a re work­ing with US stu­dios in an ef­fort to pro­duce lo­cal block­busters.

But a tick­et­ing fraud has called into ques­tion the va­lid­ity of sales data. More than 100 Chi­nese in­vestors de­scended on the of­fices of one fi­nancier of mar­tial arts movie Ip man 3 on Thurs­day, de­mand­ing their money back af­ter the film’s dis­trib­u­tor ad­mit­ted to buy­ing 56 mil­lion yuan in tick­ets to bump up sales. Among the bright spots for China’s film in­dus­try was lo­cal hit The Mer­maid, an odd­ball ro­man­tic com­edy which broke box of­fice records by bring­ing in around 3.4 bil­lion yuan.

Chi­nese films ac­counted for al­most three- quar­ters of the coun­try’s box of­fice in the first quar­ter, China Na­tional Ra­dio re­ported.

SWIM­MINGLY WELL A still from the rom­com The Mer­maid, which broke box of­fice records bring­ing in about $524.5 mil­lion

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