Cinemas criticized over sales practices for latest Avengers movie

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/11 15:48:40

Fans in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin Province. wear costumes of Avengers superheroes and have their pictures taken in December 2014. Photo: VCG

With millions of Marvel fans in China eager to get tickets for the latest episode of the Avengers franchise, some cinemas have begun to secretly presell tickets for the premier at high prices, which violated regulations and triggered concerns over how the move could affect its box office. 

A poster from Shanghai Wanda Cinema appeared on China's Twitter-like social media Sina Weibo on Tuesday evening, stating that the price for each ticket for the best seats in Imax cinemas for Avengers: Endgame at midnight on April 24 is 300 yuan ($45) and each person can buy a maximum two tickets. 

As tickets for the movie have not yet become available after it was announced on March 28 that it would be released in China in April, the move by Shanghai Wanda Cinema has sparked discussions among netizens, with some calling it the biggest "ticket scalper" in China. 

Besides Wanda Cinema in Shanghai, other cinemas, including New Film Association and Bestar cinema, have already started presales - not from the usual online platforms but through offline activities, including receiving bookings on WeChat groups, guancha.cn reported. 

The average prices for Imax movies in China run from 40 yuan to 80 yuan, while the current price for Avengers: Endgame is 100 yuan to 300 yuan, according to posters from some cinemas.

Stars in Shanghai

Marvel will hold a ceremony on April 18 in Shanghai, in which the heroes of the Avengers movies, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd will attend. Lucky fans got tickets to the ceremony through a prize draw. 

But as most Marvel fans will not get the chance to see the superheroes in Shanghai, they are keen to see the premiere on April 24. That's why cinemas are selling tickets at a high price and people still want them, Luo Luo, a Beijing-based movie critic, told the Global Times. 

Selling tickets ahead of the presale violates current regulations.  

A cinema in Fengtai district, Beijing sold 40 percent of its tickets for the premiere on April 24 at a price of 90 yuan. 

A student who bought one ticket was quoted by guancha.cn as saying that "this is the lowest price for the movie in Beijing within the Fifth Ring road. I can see the movie at midnight on April 24 with my classmates and share the taxi fees for going back to school."

While some Marvel fans accept the high prices, others worry that it may put off many people from going to the cinema to see the movie, which may affect its box office takings.  

Hot Hollywood movies usually start presales 8-20 days ahead of the premier, and there are more than 10 days before Avengers will hit cinemas. Maybe the Chinese fans are too enthusiastic, which makes them more eager for presales, one netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

A webpage with the hashtag "did Avengers 4 begin presale" on Sina Weibo has been viewed 1 million times, with many Marvel fans counting the days to presale. 

Many netizens also swarmed onto the official Sina Weibo account of Marvel Studios asking when ticket sales will begin. 

Some official accounts of cinemas also joined fans in leaving comments for Marvel Studios, giving updates on guessing the presale date on their own accounts. 

"The Avengers' success and popularity in China can be attributed to the ideas it gives audiences - justice and fairness will win, people with super powers are willing to help the weak, and the weaker ones can get a chance to become stronger. These movies give us hope and courage," Luo Luo said. 

The actors who play the superheroes also have numerous followers in China, which may also bring bigger audiences to cinemas, Luo Luo said. 

She estimated that the movie would take between 2.5-3 billion yuan in box office takings.

More than 1.18 million visitors have added Avengers: Endgame to their "want to see" list on maoyan.com, China's largest ticket service platform.


Newspaper headline: Preselling out


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