In an article entitled ‘How Vietnam Has Become One of Asia’s Fastest Growing Markets With New Multiplexes, a Movie-Hungry Audience & Vibrant Local Film Biz,’ Liz Shackleton emphasizes the optimistic outlook of Vietnamese filmmakers on the country’s film industry.

The article highlights that despite only opening up its film industry 10-15 years ago, Vietnam’s box office was consistently growing at a rate of 10 percent per year before the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing Thailand, which has a more established film industry.

This year’s Lunar New Year (Tet) period was particularly competitive in the Vietnamese cinema market, with local, Japanese, and Hollywood movies competing for box office dominance during the week-long holiday from February 9 to 15.

Among the films, ‘Mai,’ a romantic drama directed by Vietnamese comedian and television presenter Tran Thanh, emerged as the clear winner, topping the box office with earnings of over VND476 billion (US$19.3 million) as of Monday.

Produced by Tran Thanh Town and CJ HK Entertainment, a joint venture between South Korea’s CJ ENM and local outfit HKFilm, ‘Mai’ broke the earning record of VND476 billion set by Tran Thanh’s ‘The House of No Man,’ released during Tet last year, becoming Vietnam’s highest-grossing film.

A screenshot of Deadline.com’s headline ‘How Vietnam Has Become One of Asia’s Fastest Growing Markets With New Multiplexes, a Movie-Hungry Audience & Vibrant Local Film Biz’

Deadline.com points out that the busy release schedule of the local industry “reflects a vibrant market,” which has seen a “stellar post-pandemic recovery – by some counts the second-fastest recovery in Asia following India.”

Vietnam’s box office earned $150 million last year, equivalent to around 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, operating on a total of 1,100 screens, compared to just 90 screens and an annual revenue of less than $15 million in 2010.

This growth can be attributed to various factors, including the building of multiplexes by South Korean exhibitors CJ CGV and Lotte Cinema, as well as local studios Galaxy Cinema and BHD Star Cineplex.

Vietnam has also witnessed the emergence of new cinema chains like Beta Cinemas and Cinestar, which offer affordable ticket prices targeting students and middle-income moviegoers.

Furthermore, a vibrant local production sector has contributed to the market’s growth, with private companies venturing into film production since the mid-2000s.

South Korea’s CJ ENM and Lotte are actively involved in financing and producing Vietnamese-language movies, supporting titles such as ‘Mai,’ ‘The House of No Man,’ ‘Furie,’ and ‘The Last Wife.’

Moviegoers at a box office of Beta Cinemas. Photo: Beta Cinemas

“It’s a very young audience — we estimate that up to 80 percent are under the age of 29,” said CJ HK distribution supervisor Nguyen Tuan Linh to Deadline.com.

“So that age group is dictating the tastes of the market: local romance, comedy, and horror, as well as movies from South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia [are all popular].”

Justin Kim, head of International Film Production at CJ ENM, further emphasized that the Vietnamese audience is discerning and demands high-quality content.

“They’re very active on social media, especially TikTok and Instagram, and will react quickly if they think the quality of a movie is not so good,” Kim told deadline.com.