South Korea Police Allege Box Office Manipulation On 320+ Local Films; Exhibition, Distribution Officials Referred To Prosecutor Reports

Police in South Korea today said that 69 officials from theater chains including CGV, Lotte and Megabox, and from 24 film distributors, have been referred without detention to the prosecutor on charges of obstruction of business, local media reports. This follows an investigation that began in June into suspicious box office numbers. Police claim the accused were involved in fabricating figures to boost film rankings over the past five years.

Ticket sales for at least 323 movies screened in the market from March 2018 to June of this year were allegedly inflated, per the Korea Herald citing police. SBS reports the alleged falsely reported sales at certain shows were on local titles and resulted in 2.67 million overcounted viewers.

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In June, police raided the major exhibitors and the offices of three film distributors on suspicion of box office manipulation and allegations they had obstructed the business of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) by falsely counting audience numbers for some local films.

News agency Yonhap reports today that police alleged the accused theater officials, in collusion with film distributors, entered inflated ticket sales information onto KOFIC’s compiling service to boost rankings of the films released at their cinemas.

A translated report from SBS News says methods used to inflate numbers included purchasing large quantities of tickets for late-night movies and holding so-called “ghost screenings” without an audience.

KOFIC manages box office data, including the audience numbers and sales for each movie, through the Korean Box Office Information System, to which multiplexes and film distributors report box office numbers.

As part of the investigation, police examined box office figures and ticket sales on 462 films released by 98 firms.

Local media reports that among the titles allegedly inflated were action thriller Emergency Declaration (2021), romantic drama Endless Rain (2021) and 2022 documentary The Red Herring.

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