Multiplex chains and distribution companies are under suspicion of manipulating audience numbers and box office rankings. In a recent development, South Korea police conducted raids on the offices of major cinema operators and distributors as part of an ongoing box office probe, according to an article from Deadline.
After a police investigation, it has been confirmed that 30,000 suspicious ticket sales for the movie Emergency Declaration have been canceled.
SBS reported that the disclosed figure for the audience count of the movie was initially provided by the theater company, not the police. The theater company informed the Korean Film Council last year of a falsely added number of 30,000 to the movie’s audience counts. They promptly canceled the booking associated with those falsified numbers.
The theater company claimed that there was an error in the calculation of test ticket sales. However, considering the earlier allegations of inflating audience numbers, it is speculated that the theater took preemptive measures to avoid the accusations.
Other movies under suspicion include Hot Blooded and Waiting for Rain, although no such actions have been reported by theater companies or detected by the Korean Film Council.
To tackle the issue of late-night phantom screenings, the Korean Film Council implemented a monitoring system in November 2022. It is worth noting that the problematic movies in this case were all released before the system was put in place.
According to SBS, the ongoing police investigation is primarily focused on determining whether theaters and distribution companies manipulated the real-time box office rankings of the Korean Film Council by inflating audience numbers.
Additionally, they have mentioned their intention to expand the investigation beyond the four Korean movies involved in this case to determine if such ranking manipulation has been a common practice throughout the industry.
CGV and Lotte Cinema have expressed their full cooperation with the police investigation.