HCM CITY— Cinemas around the country are facing a serious crisis due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Cinemas attracted only one million visitors and earned VNĐ76 billion (US$3.2million) last month, according to a report from CJ CGV Vietnam.
In March last year, cinemas attracted more than five million people and earned VNĐ350 billion ($14.8 million).
“Cinemas are empty. Our income is zero, and we have had to spend several billion đồng on location rent and staff salary,” said Ngô Thị Bích Hạnh, deputy director of BHD Company, one of the country’s leading private cinema operators and film distributors.
BHD spent a great deal to produce Bí Mật Của Gió (Secrets of the Wind), a romantic film by award- winning director Nguyễn Phan Quang Bình.
The C16-labelled film is about love between young people. It also sends a message about love, family, tolerance and forgiveness. It features young actress Khả Ngân and fashion model Quốc Anh.
After premiering in HCM City and Hà Nội in February, the film’s screening was delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Bí Mật Của Gió was the first Vietnamese film to be affected.
Vietnamese films such as Sắc Đẹp Dối Trá (The Drama Queen), Trạng Tí ( Child Master ),Tiệc Trăng Máu (Blood Moon) and Lật Mặt (Face Off) have also been postponed.
“My film’s official release schedule has not yet been specified and will be announced later depending on the situation,” said director Nguyễn Quang Dũng of Tiệc Trăng Máu, a horror film scheduled to be released on April 30.
“We spend around VNĐ10 billion ($490,000) monthly to pay for location rent, staff salary and others,” said a representative of Thiên Ngân (Galaxy) Studio, a private agency in cinemas, film production and distribution.
Galaxy owns 21 cinemas in big cities and provinces such as Hà Nội, HCM City and Đà Nẵng.
“I have not gone to the cinema in the last three months,” said Phan Thu Anh, a resident of Phú Nhuận District in HCM City.
The Golden Kite Awards, a Vietnamese version of the Oscars, will be announced online. A very limited number of winners have been invited to the events held in both HCM City and Hà Nội later this month.
“The Golden Kite awards for 2019 received 113 entries in different categories of feature films, TV drama series, documentaries, scientific films, cartoons, short films and research works,” Đặng Xuân Hải, the chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Cinematography, the event’s organizer, said.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts all aspects of life, the awards will look a bit different this year,” he said.
In the first five months of last year, 14 Vietnamese feature films earned more than VNĐ715 billion ($30.6 million) in ticket sales, a year-on-year increase of 40 per cent, according to the association.
The industry has developed well as there are now many Vietnamese films of good quality.
The market share of Vietnamese films increased to 30 per cent last year, while the figure was 23 per cent in 2018.
“We will face challenges in the next six months if the virus continues to be a problem,” said Hạnh of BHD.
Ngô Phương Lan, chairwoman of the Việt Nam Association of Cinema Promotion and Development, said: "There has been a 50 per cent decrease in the number of tickets sold since the spread of the virus began.”
“Many local film companies have complained about their difficulties in the Covid-19 fight. Some of them are going bankrupt.”
“New tax policies and bank loans should be offered to support film companies and cinema owners,” she said. –VNS