Avatar a dream come true for ticket scalpers

By Xu Fan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-11 10:14
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Avatar a dream come true for ticket scalpers

Tickets for the 3-D and IMAX versions of the blockbuster movie Avatar were selling for up to four times their original price during the first weekend of James Cameron's epic film.

China's biggest online trading platform, taobao.com, saw ticket scalpers promoting themselves as "purchasing agents", selling 100-yuan tickets to the China National Film Museum for between 170 and 400 yuan.

China National Film Museum has the biggest IMAX screen in Asia and is recognized as the city's best venue by many of Beijing's film-lovers.

Despite the fact that the museum is located outside the Fifth Ring Road and is not easily reached by public transit, it has been full throughout the past week.

A scalper, surnamed Wang, told METRO he heard that moviegoers started lining up for 3-D and IMAX tickets at 1 am each day at the weekend in -10 C temperatures.

"The museum opens at 8:30 am but if you arrived at that time at the weekend, it would have been impossible to buy tickets, even for the latest show that starts at 11:10 pm," he said.

Zheng Jiajia, a 29-year-old media company employee said at least 1,000 people were waiting in line outside the museum before 8 am on Sunday.

"It's so crazy," she said. "Some people even didn't know what kind of a movie Avatar is. I even heard a young man misunderstand Avatar as Afanti (a classic Chinese story) and asked his companions about details of the movie."

Zheng said many people seemed to want to see the movie because it was the latest trend, not because they actually wanted to see it.

"If you haven't seen the movie, you will have nothing to chat with your friends about at the weekend's parties," she said.

Song Lichen, press officer with the museum said they planned to sell tickets online starting on Jan 12 in a bid to beat the scalpers.

She said the museum would temporarily open on Mondays - the day it is usually closed - to try to meet demand.

"The movie has a long screening period and will be shown until March," she told the Beijing Youth Daily.

Liu Hui, manager of Beijing's UME Huaxing International Cineplex, told METRO her theater has long been battling scalpers.

"According to our observations, there are not many scalpers around Huaxing because our guards have been patrolling the lines to prevent such illegal trades," she said.