Beijing cinemas are hit with heavy fines as enforcement of new film law expands.
Four more Chinese cinemas have been caught up in a countrywide crackdown against box office fraud, as government agencies continue to enforce the country’s new film law that went into effect on March 1.
The Beijing Miruiku Cinema near Ritan Park in the capital’s diplomatic area was fined over RMB 20 million (US$2.9 million) after an investigation by the Beijing Cultural Law Enforcement Agency found it was guilty of box office fraud.
The punishment was reported to have been levied in late March, but was only made public on Thursday by the agency. The cinema is one of four in the city punished by the body after concealing box office earnings of around RMB 47,000 ($6,830).
Of the one hundred cinemas investigated by the body, another three unnamed cinemas were charged another RMB 10 million ($1.4 million), bringing total fines to over RMB 30 million ($4.4 million).
Box office fraud is rife in China and typically involves cinemas and distributors underreporting the earnings of a film and keeping the difference.
The news followed an earlier announcement by the country’s media regulator in late March that saw three hundred and twenty-six cinemas named, shamed and punished for cooking the books. The offending cinemas were slapped with steep fines and screening suspensions and required to return all misappropriated funds to the film producers and distributors affected.
Article 34 of the new Chinese film law stipulates that film distribution companies and theaters must keep accurate statistics about their ticket sales and must not use fake transactions, falsely conceal ticket sales, or other unjust methods.
Officials launched the investigation into the Beijing Miruiku Cinema after discovering discrepancies between the cinema’s own box office figures and those it had submitted to officials, according to local reports.
The cinema was found to have misreported its box office earnings for the period from March 1 to March 22. Officials drew on the box office data from six major third-party sources including Maoyan, Tao Piaopiao, Weiying, and Nuomi to back up their findings.