South Korean police claim to have found evidence that 323 films had been falsely inflated in the box office over the past five years.
As a result, Seoul Metropolitan Police said Wednesday (August 16) that they had referred 69 people from major exhibition chains, as well as 24 film distribution companies, to prosecutors. diversity reports. The prosecutors then decide whether to file a criminal complaint or not.
The police’s Anti-Corruption and Public Crime Investigation Department began investigating earlier this year and in June raided the country’s three largest film distributors: CJ-CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema.
It was also reported at the time that other operators including Showbox, Lotte Entertainment and Kidari were also being searched. In total, investigators reportedly investigated 98 film distributors and 462 locally released film titles.
“In collusion with film distributors, the accused theater officials allegedly entered inflated ticket sales information into the Korean Film Council’s box office service [Kobis] from March 2018 to June this year to improve the box office of the films shown in their theaters,” the police said, according to the local news agency Yonhap.
“The defendants falsely stated that the tickets were sold out at certain broadcasting times and that the alleged manipulation resulted in a total overcount of 2.67 million viewers.”
The Independent has reached out to CJ-CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema for comment.
The 323 films allegedly subject to viewer manipulation include well-known titles such as the documentary 2022 The red herringwith former justice minister Cho Kuk, and action thriller 2021 emergency declaration.
The latter, which had its world premiere at the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival, plays Song Kang-ho (parasite), Jeon Do-yeon and Lee Byung-hun (Squid Game).
However, after repeated delays by its distributor Showbox, the film did not hit theaters until more than a year later, in August 2022. It reportedly sold 2.06 million tickets and grossed $15.7 million (£12.7 million), according to data still available on the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) website, KoBiz.
Overrated box office results can make films appear more successful than they actually are. This, in turn, can increase audience interest, leading film distributors to increase admissions of specific films to more theaters – ultimately turning what was perceived to be a hit into a real one.
In the long term, manipulated box office results can lead to higher fees for TV licenses, streaming and ancillary services.
Much of this alleged ticket sales manipulation also occurred during Covid, when cinema business was severely impacted and KOFIC provided additional help in the form of ticket vouchers.