In response to public suspicion concerning record-breaking box office figures of the homegrown hit Monster Hunt, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has suggested that the ticket sales numbers are likely fake. Subsequently, Hong Kong based broadcaster Edko has confessed to giving out more than 40 million free tickets for obligatory “public welfare screenings.”
Released over the summer, the computer-generated fantasy romp Monster Hunt quickly became the highest-grossing Chinese-language film in China ever and went on to earn 2.43 billion yuan at the box office, outselling even the foreign box office record holder Furious 7 by 160,000 yuan.
The film’s supposed triumph was partially the result of China’s tough restrictions on international imports that lead to the film being screened for 59 days in comparison to just 47 days for Furious 7. Monster Hunt was also shown alongside minimal competition during the summer months.
Incidentally, during its run, CCTV reported instances of free screenings of the movie in suspiciously empty theaters.
Edko released statement on its Weibo page to reassure the public that it was “instituting serious criticism” to the employees at fault for the dubious occasions of so-called “public welfare screenings,” which are really supposed to occur for the benefit of children, model workers and people with disabilities.
Such a controversy is particularly inconvenient in light of China’s resolution to improve the accuracy of its box office auditing as part of a recent trade deal with the United States.
Still, compared to a certain other instance of suspected manipulation of ticket sales concerning the propagandist war epic The Hundred Regiments Offensive, a film about a child inheriting a mystical kingdom of monsters seems a comically mild form of box office fraud.
Here’s the trailer for the movie that is rated a solid 6.3 out of 10 on IMDB:
By Pinky Latt