Shanghai Film Festival Ticket Prices Exceed $ 550 As Demand Soars
In an era when viewers around the world remain reluctant to return to the cinema, the Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) is once again failing to keep up with local audiences. The demand is so high that viewers are paying huge sums to get scalped tickets, including over $ 300 to see an arthouse film released more than two decades ago.
The festival sparks an annual online crush as moviegoers vie Black Friday-style for its limited tickets as soon as they go on sale. SIFF sold nearly 150,000 tickets in five minutes on the first day of sales in 2019, and over 100,000 tickets in ten minutes last year, although it was an in-person event only a few weeks ago. after theaters reopened for the first time after COVID-19.
With theater capacity still capped at 75%, the 2021 iteration of the event which will run June 11-20 has proven to be equally popular, despite the full lineup being announced just two days before the start of the show. sales. Over 400 films will be screened at SIFF this year, including 73 world premieres, 42 international premieres, 89 Asian premieres and 99 Chinese premieres, for a total of 303 premieres.
Ticket sales on the Taopiaopiao ticketing platform, the festival’s only official online retailer, opened at 8 a.m. local time last Friday. Frenzied shoppers crashed the platform’s app within the first minute of sales. At 8:05 a.m., the platform issued a public apology for the technical difficulty, and an associated hashtag became one of the 20 most searched terms on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.
The ticket rush even trapped a reporter from the government-owned CCTV 6 movie channel who gave a live demonstration of the ticket buying process.
“It’s 8:01 am and the Taopiaopiao app has already collapsed. Moviegoers across the country are all here right now, ”he said with a hint of hilarity and dejection as he repeatedly refreshed the“ Silence of the Lambs ”purchase pages. , “The Godfather 3” and “The Legend of 1900″. , ” in vain.
Beyond the technical difficulties that thwart regular moviegoers, there are organized scalper cabals, which fall mainly into two categories: professionals who grab seats for a profitable resale and passionate fans willing to do anything for s. ‘ensure a chance to see their obsessions on the big screen. screen.
Their combined efforts this year have propelled the tickets into the secondary market to more than 20 times their original price, despite the efforts of players like Taopiaopiao to eliminate scalping channels such as eBay Xianyu-type second-hand sales.
For example, while the original ticket price for the restored 4K version of Lee Chang-dong’s “Peppermint Candy” was $ 17 (110 RMB) – already well above the national average of around $ 6 (38 RMB) – Scalped tickets sold for up to $ 313. (2,000 RMB).
“At 2,000 RMB a bill, is Lee Chang-dong sitting next to me while I watch?” An incredulous movie fan joked on Weibo.
For fans of Japanese content, SIFF screenings may provide a rare opportunity to interact with Japanese idols who rarely advertise in China, like Katayose Ryota, who walked the Shanghai red carpet when she first appeared in a festival abroad in 2019 to promote the animation “Ride Your Wave.
This year, the most sought after titles were again Japanese.
Leading the pack were screenings of all five live-action film adaptations of the popular manga “Rurouni Kenshin,” the first non-Hollywood blockbuster franchise to be invited to appear in the SIFF film franchise section. The most anticipated are the last two installments in the series, “Rurouni Kenshin: The Final” and “Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning” – new releases which just debuted in Japan on April 23 and June 4, respectively, selling out via scalpers in Shanghai for $ 280. (1,800 RMB) a ticket.
Fans were also eager to secure tickets to the world premiere of the concert film “ARASHI Anniversary Tour 5 x 20 Film – Record of Memories”. It chronicles one of the last concerts of longtime Japanese mega-group Arashi’s 2018-2019 “5 × 20” tour, now on indefinite hiatus.
Tickets were available on Xianyu for up to $ 313 (2,000 RMB), while at least one ticket sold through a fan group cost $ 548 (3,500 RMB). Even that’s not the cap yet: A super fan from Shenzhen made a desperate appeal this weekend by offering $ 1,560 (10,000 RMB) for a ticket.
The movie doesn’t even have Chinese subtitles.
Many viewers end up hiring a middle team of professional ticket collectors to secure seats on their behalf for a fee that can exceed $ 100 per seat.
A group that stocked popular tickets sent interested buyers a menu of titles and prices between $ 188 and $ 282 (1,200 RMB to 1,800 RMB).
“You can’t select a screening time for these tickets – you have to take whatever we give you,” the service explained. “If you can accept these prices, please contact us in two hours. Right now there are so many people asking that we don’t have time to answer.