Horror flick sole Vietnamese entry in National Day fray

By Mai Nhat   September 1, 2022 | 06:23 pm PT
Horror flick sole Vietnamese entry in National Day fray
A still taken from "Cu Lao Xac Song". Photo courtesy of Galaxy Studio
"Cu Lao Xac Song" (Lost in Mekong Delta) is the only Vietnamese movie that will compete with international blockbusters to be screened in theaters on September 2, the National Day.

Directed by Thanh Nam and rated 18+, the horror flick is set in an island downstream the Mekong River. Local residents are attacked by zombies one day and find themselves desperately trying to flee.

Protagonist Cong, a doctor played by actor Huynh Dong, tries to save himself and the lives of his loved ones.

Expected to generate a buzz among the audience, the movie was given a sneak-peak preview Wednesday and has numerous screening slots for this holiday at major local cinema chains like CGV and Galaxy.

The international films making their Vietnam premier on the National Day cover a range of genres, from horror to disaster to romance to comedy.

Animated martial arts comedy, "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank" is expected to lead the local box office. It has been given the most slots at many big venues as the only children’s movie this season.

Last year’s blockbuster, "Spider-Man: No Way Home", is getting a rerun, with the latest edition being 11 minutes longer, including some extra shots featuring superhero Peter Parker climbing the walls before his schoolmates’ hurray as well as a master fight bringing together for the first time all three actors who have played Spiderman – Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire.

After nearly a year of release, the superhero flick has garnered over US$1.9 billion in global revenues, and in Vietnam, over VND121 billion ($5.2 million).

Other potentially lucrative films include South Korean production ‘Emergency Declaration’ about a terrorist act of spreading a virus on airplane, and American director Jordan Peele’s creative sci-fi horror ‘Nope’ about a mysterious UFO.

"Emergency Declaration" in particular has managed to do well after two weeks of screening, raking in over VND48 billion ($2 million).

According to local distributors, after a busy summer season, Vietnamese filmmakers are skipping this holiday season to concentrate on the last quarter of the year.

Sales manager of the Lotte Cinema chain, Doan Thach Cuong, says many local film projects are still going through their post-production process and are yet to get a screening permit.

Many filmmakers including director Nhat Trung from the production team of "Lost in Mekong Delta" don’t have high commercial expectations for National Day screenings, but consider it an opportunity to gauge viewers’ response and take notes for subsequent projects.

According to Box Office Vietnam, a local box office data analysis site, the Vietnamese cinema market is gradually recovering, but yet to catch up with pre-pandemic levels.

In the first half of this year, total box office revenues reached VND1.35 trillion ($57 billion), with Vietnamese movies accounting for about VND530 billion, or over 39 percent.

Compared to the same period three years ago, when recorded revenue was VND2.28 trillion, the local film market had only recovered to about 60 percent.

Local distributors are expecting the National Day holiday to kickstart box office revenues. CJ CGV’s Chief Content Officer Nguyen Hoang Hai says his chain has readied enough staff in anticipation of good audience turnout.

Recently, major cinema chains like CGV, BHD Star, Galaxy and Lotte asked local authorities for permission to operate after midnight to help the industry recover.

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