The Lunar New Year (Tet) has always been an ideal occasion for film distributors, but it will probably be different in 2021.
Four Vietnamese films are hoped to be released concurrently at this Tet but on February 2, the producer of “Gai Gia Lam Chieu” (The Last Egg) unexpectedly announced to withdraw the movie from cinemas.
“Bo Gia” (The Old Father) trailer.
The race of high-grossing films
Within a week, there was a constant cancellation of movie launches from many film production companies such as “Bo Gia” (The Old Father” and “Gai Gia Lam Chieu” (The Last Egg).
On February 1, producer Ngo Thanh Van (movie Trang Ti) announced to call off a press conference for film promotion on February 4 as planned. At noon February 2, the “The Last Egg” producer also made an unexpected declaration of film withdrawal from the cinemas just one week before its official release in order to mitigate economic damage and ensure the audience’s safety.
“Lat Mat 48H” (Face Off 48 Hours) by Ly Hai production has also put on hold the scheduled release date this week but still maintained the theatrical release on the 1st day of Tet. It should have been last April 30 that both “Face Off 48 Hours” and “Trang Ti” were shown on the big screen but because of Covid-19, their release was postponed until the Lunar New Year 2021, which is the busy cinematic season of the year.
Tran Thanh, the producer, director and lead actor of “The Old Father”.
A Covid-19 outbreak right on the threshold of the Lunar New Year caused all plans to be reversed. Currently, there are only announcements of the movies’ release being rescinded, and the original arranged theatrical opening day on the 1st day of Tet (February 12) is still kept. Despite that, it remains to be seen amid the unpredictable developments of the pandemic.
There conventionally every year were only two Vietnamese films competing against one another at the cinemas. However, the absence of international blockbusters this year has motivated more domestic film studios to release new movies simultaneously, especially when many recent Vietnamese films have consistently become high grossing films, namely “Tiec Trang Mau” (Blood Moon Party) and “Chi Muoi Ba 2” (Sister Thirteenth).
“Trang Ti” is facing a risk of boycott and box office failure due to the epidemic.
In a competitive environment in the movie industry, especially during the Lunar New Year, it is a gamble for film production companies in spite of the enormous investment they put into their products.
According to VietNamNet’s information, the movie “Trang Ti” has a production budget of VND43 billion (nearly $2 million), and “The Last Egg” cost around VND48 billion, while “Face Off 48H” and “The Godfather” have an investment of no less than VND50 billion.
With that said, the production process of this year's Tet films alone has already cost producers VND200 billion, giving rise to the fact that at least VND100 billion is the minimum for these movies to break even and initially profit.
Bankruptcy is imminent
“The Last Egg 5” was withdrew from theaters 10 days before the official premiere.
Everything up to now has been going out of hand. The worst scenario in which the climax of Covid-19 leads to a pile-up shutdown of movie theaters will obviously cause those new films to be put on hold and rescheduled. Even if the pandemic is well controlled prior to Tet, the fate of these movies remains unsettled, let alone high profit.
There will always be a present dread to go to crowded places, like theaters, despite this epidemic being well in hand. Besides, three films coming out at the same time would no doubt offer the audience a diversity of choice, but that also means greater pressure on movie studios in the race to win more support than their rivals.
A scene from Ly Hai’s “Face Off 48 Hours”.
“Trang Ti” in comparison with the other two is the least favored as it has been facing public disdain since the project's launch, presaging an inauspicious outcome for this VND43 billion movie. “The Old Father” by contrast is more propitious thanks to the last year success of a web-drama under the same production company of Tran Thanh. Similarly, “Face Off 48 Hours” is part 5 following its preceding movie franchises which themselves were fruitful. This film by Ly Hai with its shift to action movie this time will even entrance more audiences. If it weren’t for the onslaught of Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 New Year movie season would have been far more exhilarating, and possibly setting many box office records.
Three foreign cartoons to be launched in Vietnam on the first day of Tet.
Foreseeing the bleak prospect of this year's entertainment industry, “The Last Egg” producer decided to back out of the race one week in advance of the movie’s release. The competition now is among six movies, half of which are domestic and the other three foreign cartoons – a genre that barely fails to please viewers at any Tet.
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