326 Chinese Cinemas Punished for Box Office Fraud

Theaters caught up in first enforcement of China’s new film law.

326 cinemas were named, shamed and punished for box office fraud on Tuesday as China begins to enforce its new film law that went into effect on March 1.

China’s media watchdog released a full list of the offending theaters alongside steep fines and suspensions related to the extent of their fraud.

Box office fraud is rife in China and typically involves cinemas and distributors buying up tickets or counting some of the earnings of one film as those of another.

63 cinemas were found guilty of box office fraud of around RMB 1 million (about US$145,000) in 2016 and will be closed for 90 days starting March 27 as punishment.

Zhejiang province is host to another 63 cinemas that will be closed for at least 60 days as punishment for fraud of between RMB 500,000 yuan and RMB 1 million.

Another 110 cinemas face fines of RMB 200,000, while the rest, who were involved in fraud of less than 100,000 yuan received warnings.

Offending cinemas have been ordered to repay any lost income to the producers of any films involved and report the amount publicly.

Cinema managers were also punished for their role in gaming the system, according to local reports.

An official with the media watchdog called box office a “chronic disease” that was hampering the development of the industry.