Distributor accused of fiddling figures
China’s film authorities have suspended the licence of a distributor that inflated box office figures for Hong Kong martial arts movie Ip Man 3.
The third instalment of the franchise starring Donnie Yen and former boxer Mike Tyson, opened in mainland China on March 4 and soon attracted allegations of fraud after it reportedly earned more than 500 million yuan (Dhs283 million) in just four days.
The movie’s distributor, Da y i n m u , which is also known as Beijing Max Screen, admitted to having bought 56 million yuan’s worth of tickets, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
“The conspirators fabricated more than 7,600 screenings of the film that they claimed generated 32 million yuan in ticket sales,” Xinhua added.
It cited China’s film bureau under the country’s broadcasting regulator.
“These kinds of issues could be considered inevitable in a young industry, but box office fraud has become so serious that it is already harming Chinese cinema,” Zhang Hongsen, head of the film bureau, was quoted as saying.
The bureau ordered the company to suspend distribution for a month while it “rectifies all malpractices” and gave formal warnings to three electronic ticketselling groups involved in the fraud, as well as 73 cinemas, Xinhua said.
Chinese cinemas and distributors have been accused of faking ticket sales in the past, for example by buying up tickets or counting some of the earnings of one film as those of another.
The producers of one of China’s highest-grossing movies, Monster Hunt, admitted last year to buying tickets worth 40 million yuan, which it said was for free screenings for senior citizens and others.