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Box office flop: Tet sales fall far short of expectations

By Mai Nhat   February 9, 2022 | 02:45 am PT
Box office flop: Tet sales fall far short of expectations
A promotional poster for 'Chia Khoa Tram Ty' (A Hundred Billion Key). Photo acquired by VnExpress
The local box office failed to provide the usual Tet bonanza for filmmakers this year, with the Lunar New Year holiday witnessing the lowest-grossing season in recent years.

According to Box Office Vietnam, an independent box office observer that analyzes cinema revenue data across the country 'Chia Khoa Tram Ty' (A Hundred Billion Key) had the highest revenues of around VND42 billion (over $1.85 million) after six days (Feb. 1-6) of the nine-day Tet break that began Jan. 29.

Every year, the first three days of the Lunar New Year are deemed a golden window of opportunity for movies to earn up to VND10 billion per day.

But this year, the leading local film only earned about VND3-4 billion a day.

According to Box Office Vietnam, an independent box office observer that analyzes cinema revenue data across the country, the revenue of '1990' took second place with VND20.5 billion.

Horror film 'Nha Khong Ban' (The House Not For Sale) came in third place with revenues of more than VND17 billion. On the first day of its release, the film received little attention since it was not widely promoted, attracting only a few hundred moviegoers per day. Its revenues improved when theaters increased their capacity.

A promotional poster of Trang Ti Phieu Luu Ky. Photo courtesy of Studio68

A promotional poster for 'Trang Ti Phieu Luu Ky' (The Adventures of Trang Ti). Photo courtesy of Studio68

Poor storylines

Public and critics have blamed poor storylines as a main reason for this year’s Tet revenue drastically dropped.

Although it led the local box office, 'A Hundred Billion Key' had many flaws in its plot. The film revolves around Phan Thach, played by actor Kieu Minh Tuan, an assassin who has an accident, is hospitalized and loses his memory. He is entangled in a romantic relationship with Mai - a single woman.

As the love story deepens, Thach recalls his previous life and realizes that they are very different. However, the character development is weak and the twist at the end of the movie is poorly explained. On VnExpress, audiences rated the film 6.9 out of 10 points.

Meanwhile, '1990,' starring Lan Ngoc, Diem My and Nha Phuong tells the story of three women in their 30s who have been friends since childhood and are facing many ups and downs in their love lives. Actress Lan Ngoc plays the role of Linh Lan - who has a very successful career and has known her boyfriend for nine years but later turns down his marriage proposal.

Diem My plays Jessica Diem - who is living independently after a failed relationship while Nha Phuong plays Nha Ca - who seems to have a peaceful marriage, but whose love life is falling apart in fact.

The film disappointed many viewers with its "messy" script and lackluster acting. The trio was introduced as independent women with certain achievements in their careers. However, the direction lacked consistency in character development. The actresses also gave the impression of feeling tense and unnatural when playing their roles. On VnExpress, the audience rated the film 5.5 points out of 10.

'The House Not For Sale' stood out in terms of content thanks to a script with few logical errors, beautiful cinematography, and solid filming techniques.

Cinemas not fully open

Market observers said several films suffered lower revenues because many cinemas across the country had not fully opened.

In Hanoi and many localities, cinemas were closed, so the screening capacity decreased to about 50 percent of the pre-pandemic rate.

Nguyen Hoang Hai, director of cinema chain CGV's content division, said that ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, helped draw big crowds to cinemas across the country. It was a runaway hit, accounting for 70-80 percent (calculated on the number of theaters opened) of all film screenings since its release on Dec. 17 last year.

However, after that movie, the viewership has only been around 20 percent on average since the beginning of this year.

Some local directors of this year's Tet movies said they had predicted ticket sales will remain sluggish in the near future.

Vo Thanh Hoa, director of 'A Hundred Billion Key', said that before Tet, he had hoped cinemas would reopen nationwide but it did not happen.

"The number of theaters that reopened and the number of moviegoers was not as high as I expected. That is what saddens me the most."

However, he was still happy that his movie broke even and started to earn profits.

"After the success of 'Bo Gia' (Dad, I'm Sorry), there is a lot of pressure for filmmakers to achieve that milestone. But it is not easy to repeat such a feat."

Hoang Tuan Cuong, director of 'The House Not For Sale', also breathed a sigh of relief when his movie broke even.

Despite not raking in heavy sums, he said he is more interested to learn what critics and the public think about his film.

"In addition to the revenue, I sincerely hope that my Tet film contributes to heating up the local box office market."

 
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