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BHD vs CGV: The Drama Behind Vietnam’s Latest Blockbuster

Before the movie even hits theaters nationwide, Tam Cam: The Untold and its production team already find themselves at the center of a major controversy.

Tam Cam: The Untold, or Tam Cam: Chuyen Chua Ke, is a modern retelling of classic Vietnamese folktale Tam Cam. The feature marks actress Ngo Thanh Van's directorial debut and is distributed by Hanoi-based BHD. Van also produced the film with the help of her production company, VAA, and plays an on-screen role in the feature, reports Screen Arnachy.

If everything goes according to plan, the movie will premiere in cinemas across the country on August 19. The plan, however, has hit a major roadblock as it was revealed that CGV, Vietnam’s largest multiplex cinema chain, will not be screening Tam Cam at its 34 locations nationwide. The revelation was disclosed by Van herself during a press conference for the movie on Wednesday, reports Dan Tri.

During the meeting, VAA elucidated on the production team’s disagreement with CGV, citing the profit ratio between the parties involved as the main reason Tam Cam was left out of CGV’s theaters.

“The movie is a combined effort of people who are passionate about Vietnamese cinematic arts. Its production cost was twice the average amount to make a typical movie in Vietnam,” a company spokesperson shared during the event, Thanh Nien reports. “Therefore, our proposed rates – a 50-50 split between the production house and cinema chain – is fair to both parties.”

According to the news source, the two parties were unable to come to an agreement. CGV officially rejected the half-half split on August 12 and requested that BHD collect all promotional materials related to the movie at CGV theaters. At the time of writing, Tam Cam has also been removed from the multiplex’s official website.

Van was reportedly distraught throughout the press conference as she voiced her disappointment at CGV’s decision. “Both [BHD] and the production team felt that [the rates] CGV proposed didn’t match our effort,” the actress told reporters through her tears. “[I] felt very shocked and saddened by the news.”

The image of Van crying quickly made the rounds on social media as many netizens chimed in with their own opinions on CGV’s decision. The controversy has also prompted a #NoCGV hashtag, popularized by the movie’s fans, threatening to boycott the South Korean chain as some felt that CGV was discriminating against local features.

Different versions of Tam Cam's posters showing the movie's main cast. From left to right: Ngo Thanh Van, Isaac. Photos via A Virtual Voyage.

CGV has since put out two press releases concerning the ruckus, one immediately after the movie’s press conference and another on August 18. In its first announcement, the multiplex chain shot down the accusation that it was purposely edging out Vietnamese movies in favor of Korean releases.

According to Thanh Nien, in the first half of 2016, CGV screened a total of eight locally made productions, including fan favorites such as Toi Thay Hoa Vang Tren Co Xanh (Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass) and Chang Trai Nam Ay (Dandelion). Before the end of the year, the multiplex will premiere nine more, making CGV the cinema chain featuring the most Vietnamese films. The press release also stated that the two parties were still negotiating their final profit ratio when BHD officially refused to show Tam Cam: The Untold in CGV theaters.

The second press release, penned by CGV CEO Dong-won Kwak, posed the question whether the drama surrounding the movie was engineered to camouflage business malpractice.

“The ratio of ticket box profits has been carefully deliberated [by CGV] to maximize the investment in the local film industry. No company could suddenly alter the agreement without a valid reason. This is especially when the reason given is baseless and was rooted in a rumor perpetuated by a group of people capitalizing on nationalism for their own personal gain,” Kwak said in the announcement, reports Thanh Nien.

CGV has also confirmed that the company is in the progress of completing a lawsuit suing the firms involved in the production of Tam Cam for defamation, citing Vietnam’s competition laws.

It remains to be seen how the story will play out as CGV’s lawsuit still looms over Tam Cam’s release. However, viewers can determine for themselves if the Ngo Thanh Van-directed production is worth all the drama by visiting their local theater – or, if they’re loyal CGV members – by watching the trailer below, courtesy of YouTube user Galaxy Cinema (Official):

[Photo via A Virtual Voyage]