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Korean Box-Office Alleged of Rigging over 300 Movies

Date: 2023-08-21

Korean Box-Office Alleged of Rigging over 300 Movies

The South Korean police had found evidence of inflated box-office performance of 323 films, over the past five years. By: Theng Min Yee

After uncovering proof of exaggerated box-office numbers on 323 films, which screened across the past five years, the Seoul Metropolitan Police had referred 69 people from major exhibition chains and 24 film distribution companies to prosecutors. The companies are now awaiting verdict on their possible criminal cases.

Earlier this year, the police force’s anti-corruption and public crime investigation team began investigations into the case. In June, the force raided the offices of CJ-CGV, Megabox, and Lotte Cinema, and the country’s three largest cinema operators. Sources say that the premises of the distributors – Showbox, Lotte Entertainment, and Kidari – had also been visited.

The latest update reveal that police investigators had probed a total of 98 film distributors and 462 movie titles. Among the titles with alleged inflated numbers was Emergency Declaration, which had its premiere in Cannes in July 2021.

According to the semi-official news agency Yonhap, the police said that the accused theatre officials had been in collusion with film distributors. Both parties allegedly entered inflated ticket sales information onto the Korean Fim Council’s box-office compiling service (Kobis) from March 2018 to June this year to boost the box-office rankings of movies. “As a result of the alleged rigging, a total of 2.67 million viewers were overcounted,” they added.

Sources remarked that inflating box-office numbers could be a tactic used to make films look more successful than they really are. In the short term, doing so could increase audience interest in a title, leading to exhibitors programming the movie in more theatres, which turns fake success into real success. However, long term rigging of box-office numbers may trigger higher fees when a film is licensed for TV and streaming.

The alleged manipulation was also carried out during the pandemic period, where the cinema business was severely disrupted.

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