Authorities investigate reports of underage viewing 'Mai' movie

By Thu Nhat   February 24, 2024 | 06:27 pm PT
Authorities have started reviewing ticket sales at a number of theaters to prevent underage viewership at showings of “Mai,” a “rated 18+” film currently screening in local theaters.

Le Thanh Liem, Inspector of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said his team monitored ticket sales and audience entries at the National Cinema Center in Ha Noi on Feb. 22.

The team was there to ensure that no one under the age of 18 bought a ticket for the film or entered a theater it was showing in, he said, adding that they also ensured that warning labels were present on all tickets to the film as well as pre-screening announcements.

A day earlier, the inspector had issued official dispatches to municipal cultural departments requesting heightened inspection concerning the sale of tickets to underage audiences in response to reports of underage viewership at Saigon cinemas.

Phuong Anh Dao in Mai, the first 18+ movie by comedian Tran Thanh. Photo by CJ

Phuong Anh Dao in "Mai", the first 18+ movie by comedian Tran Thanh. Photo by CJ

Many theaters nationwide are now tightening control over audience ages. Truong Minh Duc, a representative of the Lotte Cinema Group in Ho Chi Minh City, said his theaters were adhering strictly to age classifications as per existing regulations.

When it comes to online purchases, he said, age-related rules are shown throughout the entire process, from labels displayed on the list of currently showing movies to reminders at the payment screen.

Age screening is also strictly implemented at Lotte Cinema’s box offices, where warning signs can be found, according to Duc.

"When buying tickets, underage audiences are strongly advised by our staff to choose a more appropriate movie in compliance with the regulations," he explained.

Furthermore, extra staff are stationed at checkpoints to double check audience member ages before letting audience members enter the auditoriums.

Vu Duc Tung, Acting Director of the National Cinema Center in Hanoi, pointed out that during Lunar New Year, families often take the opportunity to watch movies together, regardless of age restrictions.

Moviegoers buy cinema tickets at a theater in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City on Feb. 22, 2024. Photo by Thanh Tung

Moviegoers buy cinema tickets at a theater in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City on Feb. 22, 2024. Photo by Thanh Tung

According to the existing regulations, permitting audience members to watch movies that are not age-appropriate can result in a fine ranging from VND30-40 million ($1,217-1,623). Any profits obtained from such actions can also be confiscated.

Vietnam categorizes films into five ratings: P (general audiences), K (parental guidance for children under 13), and age-specific categories T13, T16, and T18, indicating the minimum viewer age.

"Mai," labelled 18+ by the National Film Review Board, features some intense scenes between the two main characters.

The film, written and directed by comedian Tran Thanh, is currently the most popular local movie to ever hit Vietnamese theaters.

It centers around the life of the female lead, Mai (played by Phuong Anh Dao) – a nearly 40-year-old massage therapist who has a chance encounter with the younger Duong (played by Tuan Tran), who then pursues her romantically. She struggles to accept the feelings of a man seven years her junior due to her low self-esteem.

"Mai" has recorded the fastest ticket-sales rate of all time in Vietnam, grossing over VND400 billion ($16.23 million) in just 13 days.

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