Crossover movies should be more than just a gimmick

November 04, 2018 - 09:00

Vietnamese crossovers have attempted to rake in some of the huge viewership, even if they don’t aspire to the same high cinematic standards.

Illustration by Trịnh Lập
Viet Nam News

By Hồng Vân

The global cinema industry has seen massive success from crossover flick Avengers: Infinity War, which became the fourth highest grossing film of all time.

The Avengers features characters from films like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy and is the ‘most ambitious crossover event in history’.

Since 2016, Vietnamese crossovers have attempted to rake in some of the huge viewership, even if they don’t aspire to the same high cinematic standards. 

The crossover based on blockbuster TV series Quỳnh Búp Bê (Quỳnh The Doll) has racked up more than 1.6 million views on its fanpage since its release two months ago. This is not a bad number for a 6-minute video that was published online and made within two days. It did a good job in hooking viewers yet is considered a fun music video rather than a movie. 

The video doesn’t even have a plot. Its characters, who are popular faces in recent and classic Vietnamese cinema, just dance and sing a hit by a well-known Vietnamese singer. The content of the song doesn’t have the slightest connection with the theme of the original movie Quỳnh The Doll, which tells the story about a prostitute.

The video garnered more than 1,400 shares and thousands of comments on its fanpage. Most viewers agreed it was a fun video to watch and commented on the vocal talents of their favourite actresses or how cool the actors looked in the video. Some expressed their love for the characters and the original series.

The success of this video, like other Vietnamese crossovers, lies in the engagement of the audience but not in its content or artistic value.

A number of crossovers like the one mentioned above have been released in Việt Nam, but most lack quality. While some have poor content others pack the video with advertising. 

For example, a crossover based on Cả Một Đời Ân Oán (A Life of Gratitude and Feud) has good content and gives an adequate, happy ending for the series yet one of its drawbacks is the overuse of advertising.

It isn’t hard to notice the main character praising the convenience of the cable car leading to the top of a mountain peak. Likewise, in the prequel to the Người Phán Xử (The Arbitrator), the main character spends a long time talking about an entertainment complex in Hạ Long Bay with the logo and gate clearly visible in the background.

Advertising is an important part of funding for the movie, yet with a fifth of the 20-minute runtime devoted to advertising, the audience can’t help being fed up with it.

The crossovers of the TV series The Arbitrator and Sống Chung Với Mẹ Chồng (Living with Mother-in-Law) are among the few successful ones.

These crossovers successfully combine characters from the two big hits The Arbitrator and Living with Mother-in-Law. The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law from Living with Mother-in-law visited the underworld’s most powerful man, The Arbitrator, to handle their disagreements.

The movie not only offers a bunch of laughs but also conveys the need to maintain harmony between a mother and her daughter-in-law when they live under the same roof. The characteristic features and style of the characters in the original movies are also well-maintained.

According to director Dũng Nghệ, producers in the north of Việt Nam are fond of making crossovers while those in the south haven’t yet caught on to the trend.

“The crossover is not usually associated with the content of the original movie and often targets internet users and younger viewers. Producers should catch up with these hot trends to hook young viewers with something fun to attract more attention,” director Dũng Nghệ was quoted as saying on online news site

“I don’t think that the producers are ‘underqualified’ but they intentionally create shocking content to attract views. Their original movies are all blockbusters, there’s no way to say they are ‘underqualified’,” he added.

Scriptwriter Trịnh Thanh Nhã said, “We all know that the crossover aims to promote the original movie or capitalise on the popularity of the characters in the movie. But in Việt Nam, sometimes, crossover features some footage and scenes that were not used in the original.”

“The purpose of a crossover is mostly to hook the audience and include elements of advertising. Therefore the content is often disconnected, fragmentary and messy without a clear structure. Sometimes the sponsors play a big role in the content that is manipulated.

“Releasing the crossover on social media makes the management work even harder and makes it spread wider. It is a dangerous thing because the message about the humanity and educational value is not emphasized, while attracting attention and views becomes the main purpose,” said Nhã.

It is a good sign that Vietnamese producers have started to create more diverse cinematic works to meet the demand of audiences, yet by boosting the original movie in this way, the quality and artistic element should always be a top priority. VNS