We’re still trying to wrap our heads around this one. A “Super Groupon” appeared in our inbox this afternoon, offering tickets to Matthew McConaughey’s upcoming legal thriller “The Lincoln Lawyer” (which is not being screened for the majority of critics) for six bucks. The fine print: the ticket must be purchased through Fandango. This is a nifty way to promote a movie, but it also raises some questions.

lincoln lawyer

“How much did you pay to see my movie? HOW MUCH, damn it?”

What is Fandango’s surcharge for this transaction?

Groupon recently ran into trouble when they ran a deal with FTD Flowers, and FTD turned right around and raised their prices for Groupon customers only. Groupon eventually made good on FTD’s bait-and-switch – and surely bitch slapped FTD back to the Stone Age for their truculent ways – but what is Fandango going to charge for “processing” these orders? A buck? two bucks? Not really much of a deal once you factor in surcharges.

That’s the lesser of our concerns, though, by far.

How will Lionsgate report the sale of these tickets?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Groupon sells one million tickets to “The Lincoln Lawyer” through this promotion. Groupon has a 50/50 sharing policy with their clients, which means that Lionsgate would net $3 million from the deal. However, those are a million potential full-price tickets that they just sold, meaning that, with the national average at $8.00 per ticket, they could report that those tickets were the equivalent of $8 million in receipts, giving them a much better than expected opening weekend, which as we all know is the true worth of a movie these days. Later, when the movie has run its course in the theaters, they can cook the books, if necessary – after all, they might actually make that money back once that bloated opening weekend total hits the wire – when the movie ships to DVD and VOD. Call us suspicious, but it looks as though Groupon just inadvertently created an elaborate shell game that will allow every studio to goose the profits of any movie tracking below expectations.

Why do we get the sense that there is nothing about this Groupon that is meant to benefit the consumer?