Tag Archives: China

China Cinema Future – Barrage 2: Return of the Tucao

Cinema barrage

We were quite overwhelmed by the response to last week’s article about how China is inventing the future of cinema with the concept of ‘barrage’. (Thank you for all the tweets, Facebook posts, emails, LinkedIn mentions and other shares.) So we have decided to do what Hollywood always does when it has an unexpected hit on its hands, which is to quickly rush out a sequel.

The cinema barrage concept also stirred a lot of interest in China (we’ve found no less than 353 articles). In the last piece we focused on the trial involving The Legend of Qin (a.k.a. Qin’s Moon). This time we look at the other film to have tried this concept in a slightly different format at the same time, Generation 90 blockbuster Tiny Times 3.0.

Putting it all on the screen

Unlike the Legend of Qin special ‘barrage’ screening you can see from the picture above that for Tiny Times 3.0 the barrage was overlaid on the main screen showing the films, rather than projected onto the walls on either side of the screen. This makes the tucaos harder to ignore, so it is obviously only something for those cinema goers who seek out this activity, rather than casual cinema goers.

Call it striking up a conversation with the auditorium or turning the cinema screen into a graffiti wall for people to sign temporary messages.

JRJ.com interviews Wang Jun, who was responsible for the Tiny Times 3.0 barrage trial.

Mr Wang was keen to point out that this was an early experiment and is not something that should be expected to be rolled out to every screen any time soon. But the first question was about the equipment and cost.

Wang says that “the barrage is not complicated. There are numerous equipment package available now that add up to about 100,000 yuan [USD $16,240].” He then goes on to elaborate:

First, the film technology currently requires a digital movie player is a secret key [KDM?]. Simultaneous subtitles during playback and video cannot be implemented under the current terms from the policy. This broadcast mainly relies on our software. Only a screening device hardware is not speculation that the two were a movie projector screen with a barrage content superimposed on each other.

The current software was designed for 200 simultaneous participants, which Wang admits is a problem when you have sold 250 tickets. Questioned about whether the wifi network can handle that many simultaneous streams, Wang points out that because these are only short messages there is actually relatively little data being handled.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 8 August 2014

China online cinema ticket machines

Wondering about the above picture? That’s no less than ten (10!) different ticketing machines in the lobby of a cinema in Beijing. Online ticketing has exploded in China along with the growth of multiplexes, Imax screens and attendance. But it is not what you are used to in the West with one or at most two operators in addition to the cinema handling online ticketing. Different prices and different service levels means that there is a lot of competition in this field, which is only set to grow.

According to Art Consulting released data show that in 2013 Chinese film market grossed 21.7 billion yuan [USD $3.5 billion], the total volume of transactions reached buy movie tickets online 3.64 billion yuan [USD $562 million], accounting for 16.8%; market size of online movie ticket seat selection broke through the 1.2 billion yuan [USD $195 million], accounting for 5.5% of the overall size of the market. 2013 National viewing trips 620 million, of which up to 129 million people online ticketing, accounting for 21%. At the same time, the country has opened online seat selection feature close to 30% of the national cinema theater data.

Insiders predict that the next three years, the national online movie ticket in the domestic share of total box office or over 50%. U.S. group net Xu Wu, director of the opal film products more optimistic data from May this year it seems, online ticket market share has more than 30%, with a few important files and the second half of the summer schedule of the national archives, Lunar New Year stalls, etc. heat the film to enhance the overall market is expected by the end of this year, the national online ticket market share will exceed 50%. “This is an explosive growth in the market, cat’s-eye movies formally launched in January 2013, the sales volume in May this year compared to last year has increased by nearly five times.” Xu Wu said.  LINK

Online ticketing brings convenience such as seat selection and for films such as ‘Transformers 4′ the rate of online tickets sales was a high 40%. Perhaps more interestingly, the avrage ticket price of tickets sold online56 yuan, compared to average national ticket price of 20 yuan, highlighting the domination of sales in multiplexes and Imax/CGF PLF screens in Tier 1 & 2 cities. While online tickets also offers operators the chance to gather data on customers there are fears in the industry of a new round of price wars. Those ticket machines aren’t just fighting for floor space.

9900 Wilshire

USA (CA) - Fresh news that Dalian Wanda, the parent company of US exhibitor AMC, is planning to build a HQ on 9900 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The company has already donated USD $20 million to the AMPAS (Oscar) Museum.

Dalian Wanda Group, which controls the second-largest US cinema chain, won the bid for a piece of land in Los Angeles as the Chinese company sets its sights on Hollywood.

Wanda, the Chinese developer controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, plans to invest US$1.2 billion (RM3.85 billion) after beating more than 10 bidders for the 32,000 sq m plot in Beverly Hills, the company said in a statement on its website.

Wanda plans to set up an office in the city and help China’s entry into Hollywood’s film industry, it said.  LINK

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China Just Invented the Future of Cinema Watching (But Everyone Older Than 30 Will Hate It)

The Legend of Qin - Qin's Moon

This week saw a cinema screening in China that may prove a watershed moment for how films are watched on the big screen. But chances are that unless you are a Millennial, particularly in Asia, you are not going to want to embrace it.

I’ve seen things…

Covering mainland China as a non-Mandarin speaker based in Singapore for me is a bit like watching an outdoor screening of Bladerunner from a neighbouring roof through a pair of binoculars; I can make out most of what is happening, pick up a lot of what is said, though I cannot pretend to understand everything that is going on. But to quote from the films memorable final monologue, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.”

Because my perspective, disadvantaged though it may be, provides some fascinating insights into things happening in the Chinese exhibition industry, whether it is bizarre hammer attacks, concession food hygiene scares, Wanda IPO shenanigans or inherent structural market weaknesses - and that’s just in the last two weeks! And like Bladerunner this perspective offers a very real glimpse into the future – of cinema.

Because it is important to remember that the future of cinema does not lie in the west, which only offers stasis or a gentle decline of shrinking older audiences into wider, more comfortable and expensive seats, watching Avengers VII or a Met Opera. That is how THE END of cinema going as we know it plays out in cinema auditoriums everywhere from multiplexes in Manchester to art-houses in Atlanta, observed with gourmet popcorn and a glass of wine in our hand.

Whereas in China and Asia, cinema continue to grow and evolve as a social experience in the non-flickering digital projection light off the Imax/CFG screen. That is where we have to look to understand the future, particularly if we want to remain part of it.

China and Asia – the Cinema Innovators

We don’t need to rehash the already well-established importance of China to the global film and cinema business, whether it’s the gargantuan box office earning of Transformers 4 or the fact that it is the single most important growth market for Imax. What is important is not that China is now the second biggest cinema market in the world – though on uncertain foundations, as we’ve discussed many times before – but that it is a market that is continuing to expand.

This is equally true for the rest of the Far East and Southeast Asia, with the exception of Japan. The cinema business in South Asia is also growing, but with more restrictions, particularly in India where it is hampered by red tape and costly malls. (India also has a different and more traditionalist – not to say conservative – cinema going culture, that is in many way closer to that in the west than in China.)

So when we talk about China, it is often also a shorthand for talking about cinema developments in an arc across Asia that stretches from Seoul/Beijing/Tokyo, down through Singapore/Jakarta/Kuala Lumpur through to Chennai/Islamabad/Dubai.

It is in these markets that we are seeing the greatest innovations when it comes to cinemas. This comes from most of them being under-screened and unencumbered by legacy cinemas and multiplexes with their analogue heritage, as well as having a young population. It is easier to embrace the future if you can build it from scratch than if you have to retrofit it, particularly for audiences that don’t have a fixed concept of what ‘cinema’ should be. Asia is the only continent where the majority of cinemas that have never seen a 35mm print will soon outnumber those that at least once had a film projector. Asia *is* digital cinema.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 1 August 2014

Secret Cinema

Great Scott, they did it in the end! Secret Cinema’s delayed Back to the Future event went off yesterday without a problem. The company’s founder had a few words of contrition before the start of the film, as reported in The Guardian.

“I was always confident we would pull this off, thought to be fair I was confident we would open last Thursday and I really pushed the timing. I look back and I think, I made a mistake. When you work in theatre, when you work in events, you are always close to the wire, whatever happens, but this was a massive show. The issues I had with the reports saying that we weren’t ready, well, we were ready to open but the technical aspects – and I think when people come they will really see them, because it’s quite a complex show – were the things we just had to work on.”

He added: “Hands up, Secret Cinema has grown really fast and with this show it was always going to be something quite special, and we had to aim high because I can’t take on a film that is loved to such a degree and not aim high. A lot of people say, well, Secret Cinema is not that secret anymore, but for me the idea is that you build a community of people who like to explore and have adventures and become other characters and live through their favourite films.”  LINK

Secret Cinema Back to the Future

The Guardian even sent along its film reviewer to get his take on the whole experience.

Well, maybe Secret Cinema was having its Eric Stoltz moment: I like to think the delay was an elaborate postmodern joke about the fact that Back To The Future was originally cast with Stoltz in the lead role – an actor who was sacked after five weeks because he wasn’t funny enough – and filming had to start all over again with [Michael J.] Fox.

As a Secret Cinema virgin I found the event engaging and entertainingly bizarre: faux-American and yet very English in all its fancy-dress eccentricity. It isn’t exactly an immersive, wraparound experience – you could get that better by seeing the film at an old-fashioned cinema showing. But it turned into an impressive festival of fan love, a Comic-Con-ish event in which so many audience members dressed up in 1950s clothes which were as authentic as those of the actors employed by the production, that everyone was a co-contributor: it was virtually a user-generated live event.  LINK

But Peter Bradshaw saves his best observation for the penultimate paragraph, and it is one worth highlighting: “I’m not sure exactly what Secret Cinema seriously offers the business of film distribution and exhibition – but in our digital downloading age, we increasingly yearn for live events, real communal happenings, and Secret Cinema caters to that.

China cinema food safety

China – Food safety remains a hot topic in China and cinema concessions are not exempt. Looks like there are quite a few shortcomings, based on this survey by Wenzhou City Market Supervisory Authority and the released ”Wenzhou City in 2014 circulation theater food quality sampling Table”

Recently, Wenzhou City Market Supervisory Authority in Lucheng, Ou Sea, Bay, Ryan and other counties (cities, districts) of the meat market, preserves, puffed food, soy and other special quality to carry out monitoring activities. The random sampling of settled include Wanda Cinema, Cinema of New China, including 20 White Deer Studios theater food distributor sold a total of 83 batches of food, which qualified 58 batches, pass rate 69.88%. Among them, a new era of Movie World, Wanda Cinema, Hang Lung Studios, Yongjia National Theater, Pingyang Studios theater settled within this five dealers sold food subjects were qualified, especially Wanda Cinema, Hang Lung Studios The two theaters, a maximum number of subjects and all batches of food were qualified.

“From the sampling results, the total number of [sample bacterial] colonies failed, the amount of sulfur dioxide exceeded, peroxide value substandard, colorants substandard food distributors theater is settled within several major problems exist in the sale of food.” According to market oversight City Food at the relevant staff of the Authority, said the total number of [sample bacterial]  colonies exceeded easily cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal infections. Sampling of substandard fruit preserves mostly inferior raw materials, some unscrupulous manufacturers to sell to make candied fruit lover, harmful sulfur dioxide added during processing. Part of the informal food manufacturers using peroxide value has exceeded the raw material for the production of edible oil or cooking oil stored improperly or stored too long, the consumer consumption will lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and even liver damage.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 25 July 2014

Transformers Imax or 4K

Much has been made of the success of Transformers 4 in China (biggest hit of all time, etc. etc.). But at the risk of coming across all Cassandra, it should be noted that before Transformers 4 and the local hit Tiny Times 3 lit up the mainland box office, the outlook for China’s cinemas was no less glum than the malaise currently gripping the US. Here is what local media had been saying.

While China has experienced several years of high growth, the local cinema industry is facing multiple challenges: the increasing number of cinema, opened more and more concentrated, higher rent, buy shock …… by Chongqing Municipal Cultural Commission (“City Culture Committee”) Recently released in May 2014 theater box office statistics show that the local movie theater in the top 15, most of the cinema box office fell. Daily Reporter each month according to statistics released by the city of Culture Committee found that from January to May, ranking in the top 15 local cinemas, more than half the theater box office fell.

Yesterday Commercial Daily reporter in an interview that, in the case of the city’s theater box office in recent years of steady growth, the major theater theater district has noticed too dense, the rapid growth of the number of the main city theater box office year downward trend, not little theater began adjusting their development plans.  LINK

So over-development is starting to take its toll as noted by the operators of cinemas in the city.

A staff member of Studio City, Metro Plaza, 6th Floor Studios, told Business Daily reporter: “non-weekend day there are more than 200 seats in a movie, only to sell more than 20 tickets, attendance is less than 10%. night is better, but only sold about half. ”

Chongqing, in the end how many cinema? Chinese Commercial News reporters Zuo Ricong and Shi Wenwei Film Department learned that in 2012 the city’s total operating operating theater 85, 2013 rose to 104, as of May of this year has reached 108, which accounted for half of the main city.

Other cities in China are reported the same type of problems.

“At present, most theater Shenyang are losing money.” Person in charge of a theater box office in Shenyang in 2013, said the top five.

Theater insiders, at the cost of the theater, the largest part of the rent, some of the theater’s annual rent of up to five or six million good location, in addition to annual labor costs have more than 100 million, utilities and other expenses are added together, so that up to 7000000, “a movie ticket average fares 31 yuan, can only make a few dollars.”

Reporters Statistics found that the top five of Shenyang theater attendance is not higher than 30%.  LINK

Fortunately Transformers 4 and Tine Times 3 have helped. But they have not altered the underlying problems of over-supply, high rents and low attendance.

YouTube Preview Image

Ireland (Republic) – Box office is in ruddy good health in Ireland, thanks to cross dressing comedian Brendan O’Carrolls’ Mrs Browns Boys D’Movie, which took over a million euros in its opening weekend in the republic. It is second only this year to The Lego Movie and with €3.2 million set to overtake the brick film’s €3.3 million shortly and also become the biggest grossing Irish film of all time.

But the success of comedies ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ and ’22 Jump Street’ left the Irish scene looking far healthier with summer figures up 3.8pc on last year.

The total for the year is also looking good with attendance figures up 2.6pc on last year.

Rentrak EDI, the company that gathers box office figures worldwide, said the strong Irish showing should continue through the rest of the year as a lot of big titles were held back to avoid clashing with the FIFA World Cup.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 4 June 2014

PwC global media 2018

File under ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ – online film distribution revenue will overtake cinema box office in 2017, according to a new report by PwC. But box office is actually predicted to keep rising, while the real loser will be DVD and Blu-ray. China and 3D also come under scrutiny.

By 2018, electronic home video, which includes subscription video-on-demand services and cable on-demand offerings, will be the main contributor to total filmed entertainment revenue, overtaking the box office by 2017, the study finds. In five years, revenues for the sector will double from $8.5 billion in 2014 to $17 billion by 2018. Though the movie business is clearly an industry in flux, there are bright signs for one of its oldest distribution avenues, the theatrical exhibition industry. Ticket sales are projected to climb over the next five years, with domestic box office revenue climbing 15.9% from $10.8 billion to $12.5 billion. Meanwhile ticket prices will increase by less than a dollar from an average of $8.89 to $9.81 by 2018. LINK

Variety complains that “The study’s methodology is opaque, with PwC reporting that it relied on historical data and proprietary data to come up with its models and forecasts.” (What, as opposed to a crystal ball?) Law & Order Trillium cinema USA (MI) – A man who took a pistol into a cinema and then flashed a fake CIA badge will be sentenced today. Impersonating a CIA agent is a federal offence, just so you know.

Police were called to the theater for a report of a man with a visible handgun, and officers made contact with Delavergne. According to federal court records, the FBI was contacted by the Grand Blanc Township Police Department about the identification. Delavergne allegedly told the FBI agent he went to the theater after work wearing his 9mm pistol and body armor because he did not want to leave them in his car. Federal court documents say he told FBI agents that he had a permit to carry a concealed firearm.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 3 June 2014

EBOT entertainment group

The fact that China’s box office is booming is taken as a given, but depending on how you look at the figures, some more troubling aspects shine through.

Grace, vice president of Arts and Consulting Research told the “First Financial Daily” correspondent that although the theater building heat remains the same, since last year the per capita attendance continues to decline, in addition, a monthly box office analysis that the market performance is still potential for the market to fall, should be vigilant.

And despite some big hits like “Monkey King” that does not mean that all months represent unchecked growth. Quite possibly the opposite.

Throughout the first five months of 2014, although they did create the highest grossing single month, but the movie box office market on a monthly count fell. In February this year the market continued to perform eye-catching, with the box office results for the first time pushed the monthly rise to 30 billion yuan; March continued to market the off-season, April decline, down 1% year-on-year, in May performance is not satisfactory, an increase of only 7% . Continued growth in the number of screens, viewing habits in a gradually mature market, the market still appears as a broader market decline, it is worth alert.

Finally, if you look at this from a five year perspective, growth is not close to what it ought to be right now.

For ongoing theater building heat, Hou Tao told reporters, according to Arts Grace Consulting study of the past five years, including tracking attendance of this year, a downward trend in attendance last year, attendance is about 17% below the 2012 level this year half expected 15% to 16% growth in attendance, which is not optimistic.   LINK

Advertising

Shazam

Australia – Shazam is looking to extend its cinema partnership model from the US to Australia, doing with Val morgan what it’s done with NCM in the US.

Although Sos concedes the issue of movie etiquette and not using phones or playing audio in theatres is valid, he believes cinema is a lucrative and growing market for brands to engage with audiences through mobile

“We’re so wedded to the device that the idea of turning it off and putting it down for few hours actually scares us so [most people] are trying to do things on the phone before the movie starts,” he said.

“There’s an opportunity to connect through the soundtrack of a movie, introduce direct click-to-buy, as well as connect with advertisers before films start. In that way it’s a natural environment to Shazam. And because it’s unobtrusive its a nice way to engage with content.”  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 2 June 2014

Farewell my concubine opera

“Farewell My Concubine” had its global premiere yesterday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles; the first ever Chinese 3D opera in Atmos to be shown in cinemas.

Yesterday, appears on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles of a particular landscape, held annually Oscars Dolby theater entrance a few meters of the opera “Farewell My Concubine” eye-catching posters, many pedestrians stopped to watch, even passing The open-top bus passengers have also picked up a camera on Mengpai. China’s first 3D opera film “Farewell My Concubine” overseas premiere was held last night at “the temple” of the Oscars. Dolby Executive Vice President Andy said, “this is not only the first Chinese film premiere held here, it is also the film’s first country outside the United States premiere to be held here.”  LINK

Farewell my Concubine Q&A

Co-star Shi Yihong agrees the whole experience was new and exciting.

“As a Peking Opera performer, being a part of a film is very interesting for me, especially in this amazing 3D project,” Shi Yihong said.

The film is being shown in the US as part of celebrations to mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the US.

It’s hoped that the combination of a 200-year-old Peking Opera and modern 3D technology can help American people better understand Chinese Culture.  LINK

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What Wanda’s IPO Prospectus Tell Us About China’s Cinema Market

Wanda Cinemas

No less than 30 Chinese companies are looking to list on US stock exchanges this year, led by Internet giants such as JD.com and Alibaba. The reason for choosing the likes of Nasdaq is because unlike their Chinese counterparts they don’t require three years of profitability as well as US regulations that allow for different classes of voting stock. In total some USD $36.6 billion has been raised by 140 Chinese companies through U.S.-based initial public offerings (IPOs) since 2000. But one Chinese company that isn’t going down this route is Wanda Cinemas.

As we have already reported, Wanda is planning a two billion yuan (USD $321 million) IPO ahead of a listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. This is likely to make it China’s biggest domestic IPO in 2014, even if it is overshadowed internationally by Alibaba’s U.S. listing. The smaller film distributor and exhibitor Shanghai Film Co. has also announced plans for a 969 million yuan (USD $145 million) IPO. But it is Wanda that we will focus on as it is more of a bellwether on the state of the Chinese exhibition industry.

It is important to remember that one of the reasons Wanda is not seeking a U.S.-based IPO is because it has already listed AMC Entertainment Holdings, which controls the second largest North American cinema chain. This listing raised USD $314 million, i.e. almost as much as the Wanda’s China IPO aims for. The stock done very well since being listed, with shares rising from USD $18.81 to $22.39, after reaching a high of $26.68 in the brief six-month time span in which it has been trading.

Wanda Cinema’s IPO: the Basics

By way of quick recap, WSJ tells us that:

Wanda Cinema Line is controlled by commercial-property conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, which always installs cinemas in the shopping complexes it develops. With that support, Wanda Cinema has expanded into smaller Chinese cities. Dalian Wanda is controlled by its chairman, tycoon Wang Jianlin, who is the country’s richest man. Wanda Cinema Line owned 142 cinemas in 73 cities with 1,247 screens at the end of 2013, its preliminary prospectus said. Its net profit in 2013 rose 55% to 603 million yuan from 388 million yuan in 2012, while revenue rose to 4.02 billion yuan, up 33% from 3.03 billion yuan.

It is worth flagging again the concerns raised in the risk factors section of the prospectus, as highlighted by the WSJ:

China’s largest cinema chain takes a dim view of the domestic movie industry. In the risk factors section, the prospectus notes that “While Chinese films have achieved a certain volume, there are relatively few films of commercial value” and regulations limit foreign film imports. Therefore, Wanda faces risks resulting from the “lack of quality films in China that can really win good praise and reviews and completely satisfy market needs and the cultural demands of viewers.”

So while everyone is celebrating the success of “X-Men: Days of future Past” and “The Monkey King” in the first half of this year, local action epic “The Iceman 3D” underperformed and had to be split into two releases in order to get a decent return on its runaway budget.  Meanwhile, even Hollywood flops like “Transcendence” didn’t perform much better in China. We have also previously flagged up on this site the very real risk of a crash that the Chinese cinema business faces. Read More »

Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 26 May 2014

Monkey King

China is setting a new box office record with ferocious speed that helps cement the view that it will overtake even the US in the foreseeable future as the world’s biggest cinema market.

In the first five months of 2014, Chinese box office hit 10.2B yuan, or about $1.63B, with local movies dominating the market at 56% through May 21. Watchdog SAPPRFT released the figures today via state news agency Xinhua. Those numbers have led analysts to predict total 2014 box office could top out at a staggering 28B yuan, or around $4.49B. That would rep a 24.7% change from 2013 which ended with $3.6B. I say staggering because the numbers really do look wild, but a 24.7% increase would be slightly lower than the 27.5% jump from 2012 to 2013.

But number crunching is not straightforward in terms of calculating when China might eclipse the US.

It’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison with 2013 based on the figures released today given that last year the authority provided half-year numbers in July. However, it’s worth noting that it took six months in 2013 for box office to cross the 10B yuan mark. This year, it was less than five. In the first six months of 2013, Chinese films also ruled the box office at about 61%, grossing $1.1B in the semester which had total takings of $1.79B. This was a reversal from the whole of 2012 when, much to the chagrin of SAPPRFT (then SARFT), market share had fallen to under 50% for the first time in four years.  LINK

Chinafilmorg

But all is not well in the Middle Kingdom’s exhibition industry as yet more cinemas are suspended for box office fraud. Far from just being a case of greed, for some cinemas this is the only way to stay in business in a fiercely competitive market.

Seven Chinese cinemas have been banned from screening new movies due to cheating on box office figures, two Chinese film associations announced on Monday.

The cinemas were found to have used a “dual software system” to sell film tickets without registering the real box office gains to a uniform system, according to a statement issued by the China Film Producers’ Association and the China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association.

Such conduct supposedly aims to avoid lawfully sharing box office earnings with filmmakers and other relevant parties.  LINK

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