China Box Office: 'Fighting' Presales Angers Rivals

Black Coal, Thin Ice Film Still - H 2014
Courtesy of Fortissimo

Black Coal, Thin Ice Film Still - H 2014

Director Yu Junhao admits pre-selling more than one million tickets for his action drama to improve its chances against Berlinale Golden Bear-winner "Black Coal, Thin Ice."

The Chinese industry is in an uproar after an investigative report by Phoenix TV revealed that the local action drama Fighting pre-sold more than a million tickets and used a negative marketing campaign to see off its box office rivals.

In the report, Fighting director Yu Junhao admits to have pre-sold more than a million tickets and used dubious marketing measures to beat out local competitors including Golden Bear-winning Black Coal, Thin Ice, and 3D action thriller Last Flight, starring Ed Westwick and Zhu Zhu. Fighting's marketing campaign, reportedly, included using hundreds of Chinese bloggers to post negative reviews of Black Coal, Thin Ice ahead of its opening.

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“They pre-sold over one million tickets, and we can’t compete with that. They are also using hundreds of hackers to attack the competition by putting negative reviews online. This had a very negative influence on our movie,” Last Flight director Vincent Zhou told The Hollywood Reporter on the fringes of Hong Kong Filmart.

Zhou Baolin, of the marketing department of China’s film bureau, said that strictly speaking, this kind of marketing, as well as pre-selling tickets, was legal but that the Film Bureau was investigating how much of of Fighting's opening weekend take was accounted for by pre-sold tickets.

Xu Lin, of Inlook Media, one of the backers of the movie, was apparently interviewed by the Film Bureau to explain the marketing method.