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电影院的票房骗局

2014-03-18    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Cinema scams

2013年,中国电影行业票房收入创下历史新高,据官方统计,收入达217.69亿元人民币(35.9亿美元)。据光线传媒总裁王长田透露,这一数字比实 际数字少了至少50亿元。还有专家认为二者之间相差24亿元,票房上报数字与实际数字之间相差至少10%。其中的差额,进了一些人的腰包,成为了放映方, 即影院所有人和经营者的非法收入。监管机构开始对此类事件进行严肃管理。

In 2013, China achieved a record-breaking high for its film industry's box-office revenues, which officially register at 21.769 billion yuan ($3.59 billion). But according to Wang Changtian, CEO of Enlight, that was at least 5 billion yuan short of the real number. Other experts put the gap at 2.4 billion, explaining the reported box-office figure at 10 percent less than the real one. That gap is someone's windfall, illegally pocketed by cinema owners and operators, professionally known as film exhibitors. And the regulating agency is getting tough on this kind of theft.

Wang Changtian has reasons to be angry. Over the Lunar New Year season that has recently wound down, he received on his microblog numerous audience reports, complete with photos, of tickets to Dad, Where Are We Going?, a runaway hit his company distributes. The tickets had no movie title printed on them or the prices printed were lower than what was actually paid by the moviegoers - all signs that the movie's revenues were not correctly registered.

The earliest manifestation of the shady practice of "box-office stealing" loomed a few years ago when individual moviegoers posted suspicious tickets online. Tickets of this type usually had movie title "A" computer-printed on it, but the printed title was scratched out by hand and title "B" written in. Fingers were pointed at the producer or distributor of title A, but more likely it was the movie theater that was behind it. The reason could be simple: Film A gives the exhibitor a larger share of the revenue than film B.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Industry insiders reveal it was much worse before computer systems were installed in the nation's cinemas, and of course, before social media websites turned everyone into a potential reporter of such business deceit. As a matter of fact, some cinema investors were not even aware that they had to split their revenue with other parties. "This phenomenon started from the age of planned economy," says Mao Yu, deputy director of the Film Bureau, a branch of the regulating agency.

But it may have turned from guerrilla tactics to larger-scale con games. For group purchases, violators would not even issue tickets, essentially not reporting a single cent of revenue from a whole screening. Since a representative of the group usually deals with the cinema, unless he or she specifically demands a printed ticket for each member of the group, all of them would be in the dark about income reporting from the cinema to the distributor.

Another trick lies in membership dues, which are often collected up front. When a paid member reimburses for a ticket, it may have only the screening room on it, and the exhibitors can choose to credit it to any movie they like, or not to any movie, in which case they pocket 100 percent of the revenue.

Some cinemas would go as far as investing in a separate point-of-sale computer system so that each ticket buyer gets the right ticket, but none of the data shows up on the centralized system. Instead, another set of credible purchase data would be put in the correct system, but with lower attendance.

Both distributors and exhibitors that I spoke to agree that cheating is much less rampant than before, say a dozen years ago, and now is mostly limited to third and fourth-tier cities. China Film Group, the nation's largest film production and distribution company, heads a consortium with several major private companies that hires 1,000 people to monitor cinemas nationwide, and Huaxia, another State-owned company, has a smaller army of 800.

However, there are situations even these sharp-eyed monitors can do little about. For example, if a cinema sells a ticket for 80 yuan, which is normal for primetime, but gives away a free popcorn, it may attribute as much as 60 yuan of the ticket price to the popcorn, leaving only 20 as the ticket price. But it can argue that 20 yuan is the minimum price for this particular film agreed upon by both sides and therefore it does not violate any rule.

A similar scheme was employed when Transformers 3 was bundled with Yang Shanzhou, a very small film with little box-office potential, making the latter into a strange film with eye-popping revenue (79 million yuan) but disproportionately fewer people who actually bothered to see it. There were sporadic online complaints about the practice even though consumers did not pay more for the package deal.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the regulating agency, announced measures in late January to curb under-reporting and cheating on box-office revenues. A special fund is set up to subsidize the upgrading of computer software at point of sale. The current system was installed in 2005 and "cannot keep up with the new situation", in the words of Jiang Tao, director of the fund. "The new system will fix loopholes and shorten the reporting window to only 10 minutes after a sale is made instead of waiting till next noon, which is the current reporting lapse in time, which leaves room for manipulation. The national platform will be ready by May and the cinema side will complete their upgrading by October."

Apart from putting a stamp of authorization on all sales systems, SAPPRFT insists that all film tickets carry correct prices and movie admission. But conspicuously absent are concrete penalties for violations. The software upgrade will certainly be a great help, admit distributors and exhibitors, but it may not be enough.

"The cost of violation is still too low. If you're caught under-reporting 10 tickets, all you need to do is make up for the shortfall," says Huang Ziyan, vice-president of Le Vision Pictures in charge of sales.

Cao Yong, a manager with the Huaxing UME cinema chain, suggests that violators should have their business license revoked. "Cinemas invest tens of millions of yuan and, with punishment of this severity, it would not make sense for them to steal 80,000 or 100,000 yuan from the box office."

Other ideas have been floated such as the use of an infra-red camera that automatically scans a movie theater for attendance. The technology has been available for eight or nine years and it claims to have 95 percent accuracy. But it has never been put into use.

Filmmakers are reluctant to stand firm when they become victims because they do not want to offend the exhibition branch of the business chain - the branch that deals directly with end users. Some say they are no longer sad at the irregularity, but have come to the stage of despair.

This time it's for real, and "we'll cleanse the industry of this illegal and irregular behavior", says Zhang Hongsen, director of SAPPRFT's Film Bureau.(ChinaDaily)

相关内容

王长田的气愤是有理由的。在刚刚结束的春节档期,他的微博上收到许多观众留言,并附上电影《爸爸去哪儿》的电影票照片。这部电影是光线传媒公司发行的热门影片。有的电影票上没有电影的名字,而一些电影票上标出的价格要低于观众实际购票的价格。这些都说明上报的电影收入并不真实。

几年以前,就有观众将可疑的电影票上传到网上,那时候就出现了“偷票房”的恶劣行为。电脑打出的电影票上往往标记为A电影,但后来被涂改成B。有人指责A电影出品人和发行人,而幕后的操作者更有可能是影院方面的人员。原因很简单。相比B电影而言,放映方从A影片中得到的收入更多。

但这只是冰山一角。业内人士透露,在中国电影院尚未安装电脑系统,社交网站还没有让所有人都成为此类商业骗行的潜在报道者之前,这类事件要更加严重。事实上,部分电影投资者甚至根本不知道,其他人在分享他们的收入。电影监管机构、国家新闻出版广电总局电影局副局长毛羽说,"计划经济时代就出现了这种现象"。

但是,这已经从零散的现象,变成了规模巨大的骗局。违反规定的人甚至不会给团购观众发放电影票,在整场放映中基本不上报一分钱的收入。只有团购代表会与电影院直接打交道,所以如果他没有提出特殊要求,为每一位成员打印电影票,在电影院上报给发行方的收入报告中,是不会显示团购情况的。

在会费方面也会耍手腕,因为会费是提前收取的。会员的电影票上只显示在几号放映厅,放映方可以将电影票任意对应到别的影片上,或者根本不记录会员看过电影,这样他们就可以私吞所有的收入。

一些影院投资了单独的零售电脑系统,可以让购票者买到正确的电影票,同时不会让中央系统中显示任何数据。而另外一组可信的购买数据会被输入正确的系统中,但显示的上座率较低。

我了解到的发行商和放映方都认为如今的欺骗行为较从前,就是十几年前,收敛了很多;现在只有三、四线城市会出现这样的行为。中国最大的电影制作和发行公司中国电影集团同数家大型私人公司共同组建并领导了一个协会,雇佣1000人监督全国的影院。另一家国有电影公司华夏电影公司也拥有一支八百人的队伍。

但是,即使是这些精明的监督者也有力所不及的情况。例如,影院出售一张80元的电影票(热映电影的正常票价),同时赠送免费的爆米花。这时候,爆米花可能占去票价中的60元,而电影票只能占票价中的20元。电影院声称,双方商议的影片最低价格就是20元,因此影院没有违反任何规定。

《变形金刚3》同票房潜力很小的小制作电影《杨善洲》捆绑,让后者取得了令人震惊的票房收入(7900万元),但是这一数字同极少量的观影人数并不相符。这是一种类似的手段。虽然消费者不会为这样的捆绑交易多付钱,但网上还是有一些对这类行为的投诉。

作为监管机构,国家新闻出版广电总局一月底公布了治理虚报、谎报票房收入的办法。成立专门基金,补贴销售点电脑软件的升级。国家电影专资办主任姜涛表示,安装于2005年的现行系统“跟不上新情况”。

“新系统会修补漏洞,销售结束十分钟以后即结束上报窗口,而不再等到第二天中午”,延缓上报时间,会为弄虚作假留下空间。五月即将建成国家级平台,影院方面将于十月完成升级。

除了对所有销售系统进行管理,国家新闻出版广电总局坚持要求所有电影票显示正确的价格和入场费。但没有对违反规定的具体处罚措施。发行方和放映方承认,软件更新一定会提供很大帮助,但帮助可能不够。

“违反规定的代价还是太低了。如果被发现虚报了10次票价,只需要补上缺口即可,”乐视影业市场副总裁黄紫燕说。

华星UME影城的经理曹勇建议吊销违反规定的单位的营业执照。“电影院的投资上千万,这样严厉的惩罚,会让他们觉得为了8万、10万的票房受这样的惩罚划不来。”

还有人想到其他办法,如运用可以自动扫描影院放映厅上座率的红外摄像机。未来8到9年,将可以利用这项技术,据称这项技术的准确率为95%。但现在这项技术尚未得到使用。

电影制作方在受到损失时,不愿意太过严厉,因为他们不想得罪放映方,原因在于在商业链上放映方所处的环节直接接触终端用户。一些人说不再为这样的不规矩行为感到难过,而是开始失望。

这一次真的要采取行动,“我们要肃清行业中的这类非法,违规行为”,国家新闻出版广电总局电影局局长张宏森说。



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