Ip Man 3 under scrutiny for box office fraud

( ) Updated: 2016-03-08 11:14:12

<EM>Ip Man 3</EM> under scrutiny for box office fraud

Actor Donnie Yen in Ip Man 3. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Ip Man 3, the third installment of the hit kung fu franchise based on the life of a martial arts master specializing in Wing Chun skills, has enjoyed massive success on its opening weekend in China.

According to estimates from the Beijing-based box office monitor Ent Group, the fight flick grossed 443 million yuan ($68.1 million) in just three days. This may seem like good news, except that the high earnings were marred by fraud allegations that Dayinmu Film Distribution, the distributor of Ip Man 3, is bulk-purchasing discount tickets through cinema chains across the country to enhance the film's perceived performance.

Ticket sales for Ip Man 3 surpassed 300 million yuan ($46 million) on March 5, the second day since its opening. This is a mind-blowing figure in March, when box office performances tend to be weak.

Internet users began to speculate on the authenticity of box office earnings, with renowned Sina Weibo user dianyingpiaofangba, who specializes in analyzing box office performances in China, calling to "stop films from paying the price of these actions (box office frauds)."

Signs of this dubious phenomenon started to spread on China's social media, from the surge of ticket sales from a single cinema, sold-out ghost screenings at midnight and during daytime on a weekday, fully booked front two rows (often considered less desirable seats) in theaters in advance, and abnormally high ticket prices alleged to falsify an enhanced performance at the box office.

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