Chinese blockbuster pulled from Vietnamese theaters

By An Nguyen   March 24, 2018 | 07:29 pm PT
'Operation Red Sea' has stirred controversy due to a scene showing Chinese warships in disputed waters.

Major movie distributor CGV has announced that it is pulling a Chinese movie out of all its theaters in Vietnam, just over a week after the movie's premiere.

According to a CGV representative, the company is pulling "Operation Red Sea" because the movie has been performing badly in theaters, with many showings only drawing only one to two viewers.

"Operation Red Sea" is a Chinese action movie by Hong Kong director Dante Lam, and premiered in Vietnam on March 16. The movie is loosely based on an operation by the Chinese military to evacuate almost 600 Chinese citizens and 225 foreign nationals from a Yemeni port during the Middle Eastern country's civil war in 2015.

The movie has grossed over $500 million, making it the second highest-grossing Chinese movie ever, according to Entgroup's China Box Office website.

"Operation Red Sea" has however stirred controversy in Vietnam with a scene unrelated to the main plot at the end of the movie. The controversial scene supposedly takes place in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea in Vietnam, and shows a group of Chinese warships surround a foreign ship and ordering it to leave what they claim to be Chinese territorial waters.

Many Vietnamese moviegoers have expressed anger at the scene on social media, as it implies the flashpoint waters belong to China.

"I don't understand why this detail passed through the censorship process," said Phi Long from Ho Chi Minh City.

In Vietnam, all foreign movies must be censored if necessary before they are allowed to be shown in movie theaters.

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