The Vietnamese film industry is currently celebrating its recent successes, which include international awards and record-breaking box office results. Ha Le Diem’s documentary “Children Of The Mist” made history by becoming the first Vietnamese documentary feature to be shortlisted for an Oscar. Additionally, Pham Thien An won the prestigious Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with “Inside The Yellow Cocoon Shell,” marking the 30th anniversary of a Vietnamese-born French director receiving the same honor for “The Scent Of Green Papaya.”
The local box office has seen a significant increase in the first six months of this year, with 23 million admissions, comparable to the all-time high of 48 million in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. The estimated total revenue for the first seven months reached US$92.6 million, a 58.2% increase compared to the previous year. These figures demonstrate the growth and resilience of the Vietnamese film industry.
It was only two decades ago that the Vietnamese government allowed the private sector to enter the film industry. Since then, the Vietnamese box office has been growing by about 10% annually. Korea’s CJ ENM and Lotte Entertainment, along with local chain Galaxy Cinema, have contributed to this growth through their investments in cinema screens. Lee Jin Sung, director general of Lotte Entertainment Vietnam, believes Vietnam is following in Korea’s footsteps and will become the strongest content market in Southeast Asia within five years.
The Vietnamese film industry has also established strong ties with the United States. Many top directors, who were either born or raised in the US, have brought a unique aesthetic to local cinema. The US, with its large Vietnamese diaspora, is an important international market for Vietnamese films. “Dad, I’m Sorry” became the first Vietnamese-produced film to surpass US$1 million at the US box office, signaling the potential for more international success.
While the Vietnamese film industry continues to grow, it still lacks a breakout hit that can attract a wide international audience beyond the diaspora. To achieve greater international exposure, Vietnamese films need stronger government support and improved sales representation. Additionally, having more local executives with international distribution experience would benefit the industry. Currently, CJ and Lotte represent their own Vietnamese titles through their global sales teams, while BHD and Skyline Media are among the few Vietnam-based sales outfits.