Foreign co-productions fail to impress moviegoers

By Dang Khoa   August 23, 2022 | 04:48 pm PT
Foreign co-productions fail to impress moviegoers
A still from "Side Seeing". Photo courtesy of Galaxy Cinema
Films co-produced with foreign studios have repeatedly flopped at the local box office.

Vietnamese studios collaborate regularly with foreign companies albeit the number of movies released every year is small.

This year there have been three and they have ranged from unsuccessful to utter flops.

Most recently "La May Tren Bau Troi Ai Do" (Side Seeing) by Thai director Thanadet Pradit and Vietnamese producer Trinh Tu Trung was pulled out of theaters after 10 days due to poor patronage.

It earned just VND515 million (US$22,000) despite starring famous Thai actors Push Puttichai and August Vachiravit and Vietnamese stars Hong Van, Ngoc Lan Vy, Trinh Tu Trung, and others.

The rom-com is about the journey of a young Vietnamese girl called May (played by Vy) to Thailand to meet her idol Park (played by Puttichai) on her birthday.

May's seemingly smooth journey to meet Park faces obstacles caused by Boy (Vachiravit), a sincere, kind but clumsy motorbike taxi driver, and his friend James (James Vejvongsatichat), and she gets into awkward situations.

People reviewing it online described it as rambling, superficial and lacking drama. Some said the plot is too predictable and the acting is subpar.

Many viewers were also disappointed by the Vietnamese-South Korean film "Ke Thu Ba" (The Third Person) starring Han Jae Suk and Ly Nha Ky.

Directed by South Korean Park Hee-joon, it tells the story of a husband attempting to change the past to prevent the accident that killed his wife.

The film, released in mid-May, drew attention for having among the highest budgets this year, a reported VND33 billion. But it only collected VND962 million.

Audiences panned the plot as weak and the script as middling.

Ky's performance also came in for criticism, with many saying she failed to show any chemistry with the lead actor while her monotonous, low-pitched voice detracted from the emotional scenes.

"My Nhan Than Sach" (Bookworm Beauty), released in April, only collected VND168 million.

Directed by Nguyen Phuong, the movie has a mix of Thai and Vietnamese actors like Korapat Kirdpan, Viet Linh and Phi Phung.

It was criticized for having the usual tropes about ducks turning into beautiful swans and story and dialogue that are "old as the hills."

The January 2021 movie "Sam Hoi" (The Living Sandbag) earned just VND1.3 billion after costing VND50 billion to make, according to Indian-Vietnamese producer Ramani Raja.

Directed by famous Vietnamese-Indian stunt choreographer Peter Hein, it was filmed in India over two years but features a number of Vietnamese artists.

The movie is about a couple living happily with their daughter until an unexpected event occurs. Then, pushed to the brink of bankruptcy, the man has to return to martial arts to support his family.

According to many viewers, its fight sequences were too dramatic, the CGI effects looked "fake" and the presence of too many characters made the film dense and difficult to follow.

A still from Sam Hoi. Photo courtesy of VSABV films

A still from "Sam Hoi." Photo courtesy of VSABV films

In past years, Vietnamese films co-produced with foreign studios were always expected to become blockbusters.

Kay Nguyen, director and screenwriter, said in an interview with Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper last month that co-produced films only help build initial hype but would fail if the script is poor.

Audiences used to go to theaters because they liked actors and wanted to see their idols on the big screen but that has changed, she said.

They no longer go to theaters just because of a star actor but depend on how good a film is via word of mouth and comments on social media after release, she added.

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