Film distributors seek fresh blood to revive Vietnam cinema

By Mai Nhat   September 23, 2020 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Film distributors seek fresh blood to revive Vietnam cinema
An employee cleans seats at Galaxy Cinema in Saigon's District 1, May 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Local film distributors are calling on movie producers to release new material to counter the post-Covid-19 lull.

Apart from "Rom", winner in the New Current Award category at Busan International Film Festival last year and scheduled for release on September 25, few other movies are expected to attract viewers.

The Vietnamese film industry is facing a golden opportunity ahead of the year-end peak season, with few new foreign blockbusters expected to be released this year, industry insiders said at the "Promote Vietnamese Cinemas in the Post-Covid-19 Era" forum on Monday.

Should movie makers delay their premieres until next year, the deluge of new movies could simply bore audiences in 2021, they said.

"We need films with exceptional storylines to lure audiences back to the cinema," said Ngo Thi Bich Hien, director of domestic cinema chain BHD in HCMC.

Cinema support plays a crucial role in helping producers introduce their new work during this period, Hien added.

Distributors should commit to showing outstanding movies for at least a month, especially during golden hours, Hien mentioned, adding cinema chains could adjust the revenue split with movie makers instead of maintaining the current 45/55 ratio.

But cinemas think the pandemic is not solely to blame for the gloomy industry outlook, instead ascribing the situation to a lack of quality releases.

Nguyen Thi Mai Hoa, chief operation officer of Galaxy cinema chain, mentioned the South Korean zombie film "Peninsula" hit big screens in July when the pandemic was still raging, becoming the highest ever grossing Korean film in Vietnam after raking in VND83 billion ($3.57 million).

In China, many cinemas were closed for six months but when they reopened, their year-on-year revenues increased by 15 percent, according to Nguyen Hoang Hai, a representative from Vietnam's largest cinema chain CJ & CGV.

With a production cost of $80 million, Chinese war-themed movie "The Eight Hundred" has earned more than $400 million, Hai added.

According to CGV, when cinemas reopened after the nationwide social distancing ease in May, revenues only reached 25 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

When the novel coronavirus resurfaced in July, movies like "Rom", "Tiec Trang Mau" (Bloody Moon), and "Chong Nguoi Ta" (Other's Husband), all got postponed.

Trailer of "Rom".

After the social distancing ease, Vietnamese audiences have been wary of returning to the cinema, according to producer Truong Ngoc Anh. As many grew used to streaming movies at home, the number of new screenings dropped from nine in the first three months of 2020, to five in the recent three.

But movie makers believe in the cinema habits of their audience, saying big screens give them a different experience compared to streaming films online.

"Crying, smiling, getting shocked, being happy in the cinema are distinctive emotions. Movie makers and distributors should focus on quality. If a movie is good, moviegoers will flock to it," director Phan Gia Nhat Linh said.

 
 
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