'Mai' becomes highest grossing Vietnamese movie of all time, collects $20.3M

By Mai Nhat   March 3, 2024 | 10:42 pm PT
'Mai' becomes highest grossing Vietnamese movie of all time, collects $20.3M
Tuan Tran and Phuong Anh Dao, the main actor and actress of the movie "Mai". Photo by CJ
"Mai," directed by comedian Tran Thanh, has collected VND500 billion ($20.25 million), surpassing his 2023 superhit “Nha Ba Nu” (The House of No Man) as the highest grossing Vietnamese movie ever.

According to Box Office Vietnam, the milestone was reached on the afternoon of March 1, 20 days after the movie hit theaters as "Mai" dominated the box office.

The distributor of "Mai," CJ, said the film has sold 5.5 million tickets.

Thanh is overjoyed at the reception since, due to its 18+ rating and a dramatic plot that deviates from the usual Tet comedy, he did not expect it to be such a blockbuster.

Notably, he now holds the distinction of directing the three biggest ever hits in Vietnam. "Nha Ba Nu" collected VND475 billion, and the third, "Bo Gia" (Dad, I'm Sorry), grossing VND417 billion.

Thanh and the cast of "Mai" had toured major cities to promote the movie.

Despite its niche topic – which also made it his most challenging project so far -- the warm reception nationwide reaffirms that the success of a movie hinges not only on its theme but also its quality, said Thanh.

The impact of the movie has garnered attention in the international media. On Feb. 23 Deadline contributing editor Liz Shackleton had written: "the film has the potential to break the record set by Tran Thanh’s own The House of No Man."

Its performance indicated the recovery of the Vietnamese film market post-Covid-19, shed suggested. Some analysts reckon Vietnamese cinema has recovered the second fastest in Asia after only India’s.

"Mai" centers around the life of the eponymous female lead played by Phuong Anh Dao, a nearly 40-year-old masseuse who has a chance encounter with Duong (Thanh) and is pursued by him. She struggles to accept the feelings of a man seven years her junior due to her low self-esteem.

Thanh paced the film slowly and moderated the intensity of the quarrels between his characters. Dao is given a lot of acting space, including moments where she grapples with single motherhood and feels helpless while soothing her crying child.

Among the supporting characters, the most notable is Dao, portrayed by actress Hong Dao, who encourages Mai to embrace the call of love and live her life to the fullest.

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