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International statistics

22 October 2007 à 13:02

Vietnamese market opens up to French films

With one of the world’s strongest economic growth rates and a population of 82 million (including 62% under 30 years old), Vietnam is an emerging market for film product.

Not so long ago, Vietnamese movie theaters were in a state of disrepair, with national film production crippled by a lack of funds. The prospects for French films in this context were virtually non-existent, even in Ho Chi Minh City.
But in the 8 years from 1998 to 2006, the market has turned around, with the number of movie screens on par with international standards jumping from 0 to 60. These theaters are spread throughout the territory, with several multiplexes drawing crowds in Ho Chi Minh City in the South, as well as in Hanoi in the North, where the 8-theater MegaStar complex is living up to profit expectations. New cineplexes open their doors every few months at sites such as Danang, Haiphong, and Bien Hoa.

Two major operators, MegaStar and Galaxy are competing for the market, both in the exhibition sector (with ticket prices at 50,000 dongs, or US$3.00) and the distribution sector. MegaStar has signed distribution deals with UIP, BVI, Sony, and Showbox (South Korea), while Galaxy has linked up with Fox and Warner Bros. MegaStar takes the lead in terms of the number of screens, while Galaxy was the first to open a cinema in Ho Chi Minh City, in the heart of former Saigon. Both operators plan to launch 100 new screens before 2010, and construction progress appears to be on schedule, in line with the current boom in this sector in Vietnam.

As concerns film statistics, information from the Vietnamese Culture Ministry’s Film Department speaks for itself. 103 films were imported in 2006, of which 75 titles came from the United States, 9 from South Korea, 7 from Hong Kong, 5 from China, 1 from Japan, and 6 were Asian co-productions. The remainder were Vietnamese productions, although of an insufficient number to meet the 20% quota that the government intended to impose, but which has now motivated MegaStar and Galaxy to invest in national productions.

The 1st Panorama of French Films recently hosted by Unifrance in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from October 10 through 15 aimed to boost French films’ involvement in this fast-growing market. Taking full advantage of the preview screening of the first French film acquired by MegaStar, Priceless (released on 6 prints October 12), which was held in the presence of the film’s director Pierre Salvadori, the Panorama showcased 10 French films selected by French exporters (including 5 tiles accompanied by their directors) in Vietnam’s most highly-reputed cinemas (see below for films presented and deatils of the French delegation).

Screenings to full houses of movie-lovers keen to savor the latest French dramas, together with press meetings with Vietnamese professionals also offered an occasion to celebrate the popularity of the actress Linh Dan Pham in her country of origin, and to look back at films shot in Vietnam, such as Indochine, Diên Biên Phu, L’Amant (The Lover), Xich lo (Cyclo).

At the close of this action-packed 5-day event, MegaStar showed an interest in acquiring the 5 films presented by their directors (Secret Agents, The Ax, Nos jours heureux, and Have Mercy on Us All). This could well represent a first step toward a comeback for French films on Vietnamese screens.

Author : Jean-Christophe Baubiat

Latest update : 23 April 2009 à 13:02 CEST

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