Putting ghost butts in seats

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-10-19 07:14:34

If breaking records is the only motive, only movies that are already big hits and are backed by financial heavyweights can afford to play this game.

However, it has more tangible benefits than simple ego boosting. A film with an enviable box-office figure may stimulate the herd mentality and attract real audiences as its stellar showing is touted as proof of its popularity.

And as a corollary, the expected turnout of the audience will be used as leverage to add more screenings by the theaters, thus squeezing out less competitive fare for the same time slots.That is why the game of inflation was not only played by Monster Hunt and Lost in Hong Kong, which were blockbusters in the first place, but by mid-size movies with the dream of leapfrogging into the major leagues-achieved by buying big chunks of seats for the first few days of release.

A movie with higher grosses will also be able to fetch a better price when sold for television or Web rights. Sometimes even movie stars may secure entire screenings to prevent the appearance of sagging popularity.

But then the line can be blurry as a dozen screenings for family and friends are considered normal, similar to giving out free samples, but blocking out hundreds of shows for so-called fans is tantamount to box-office inflation.

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