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“The cinema undergoes a transformation into a new cultural-experience complex” – CEO of Galaxy Studio

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The executive roundtable at CineAsia 2023 in Bangkok Thailand, the influencer of Asian cinema, emphasized that Hollywood now faces the foreboding threat of total box office collapse, after reaching its peak decades ago. Vietnamese local and indie movies have taken the spotlight, becoming the main characters in the box office narrative, especially as the post-pandemic era encourages a resurgence in the cinema experience.

Following the great success of CineAsia 2022, led by Mr. Rance Pow, CEO and Founder of Artisan Gateway, with the presence of Ms Mai Hoa, CEO of Galaxy Studio,  the Senior Vice President, Theatrical Distribution (APAC), Warner Bros, the Executive Vice President, International Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and the Managing Director Asia & Middle East Cinespolis, an executive roundtable discussion took place in Bangkok 2023. The discussion revolved around the rising Asian theatrical markets and the changing business models to adapt to the transition in out-of-home experiences. This was part of the CineAsia Conference in Bangkok, bringing together leaders from the Asian film industry to discuss opportunities, challenges, and nuances of local and indie movies in Asia, and the downturn of the Hollywood franchise.

Under CineAsia, which gathered international filmmakers, actors, directors, film producers and distributors, film studios, cinema representatives, and projector operators, Galaxy Studio represented Vietnam as a leading film distributor and maker. They showcased the Vietnam movie line-ups, exciting theater operators and enabling them to make marketing plans in advance.

The extraordinary positioning of Vietnamese studio

There is much-discussed ‘franchise fatigue,’ where major movie franchises have predominantly underperformed at the box office over the past two years. In the current blockbuster ecosystem, audiences are becoming more discerning, seeking high-quality, original, and compelling content. Predictable plotlines and action sequences have diminished the appeal of Hollywood blockbusters, especially those released after the pandemic, leading to a visible decline in quality. The decline in Hollywood’s franchise output by 50% in 2023 compared to pre-Covid levels in 2019.

This significant gap has created a golden opportunity for local and indie movies to rise. The Vietnamese film industry, in particular, has embraced a hybrid model, releasing films in theaters first and later on streaming platforms. This approach maximizes box office revenue while catering to a diverse audience, bridging the gap between traditional movie-goers and those who prefer the convenience of streaming.

Ms. Mai Hoa, the visionary CEO of Galaxy Studio, articulated this shift in consumer behavior post-pandemic, emphasizing the enduring appeal of the cinematic experience: “The post-pandemic landscape has witnessed a noteworthy shift in customer behavior. Instead of impulsively choosing a favorite movie at the cinema, customers now make their decisions with more careful consideration. In the Vietnamese market, our movie-goers still harbor a distinct affection for cinema, albeit with a significant change in behavior. Prior to heading to the cinema, the audience actively seeks reviews on social media or consults with friends.

Contrary to expectations, the competition between traditional cinema experiences and home-theaters is not as substantial as one might anticipate. The impact of home-theaters on cinema attendance appears to be minimal,” she shared.

Ms. Mai Hoa, CEO of Galaxy Studio, articulated this shift in consumer behavior and preference post-pandemic, emphasizing the enduring appeal of the cinematic experience

The journey in innovating the cinema experience

As one of the leading local cinema and distribution businesses in Vietnam, Galaxy Studio is currently executing strategic plans aimed at transforming into a premium domestic cinema within the next 3-5 years, catering to a diverse range of customer segments.

In the last two decades, Galaxy Studio has revitalized the cinema business, shifting from years of gloomy decline in the 90s marked by “instant-noodle” movies to becoming a pioneer in movie production and a trendsetter for Tet blockbusters. Ms. Mai Hoa, CEO of Galaxy Studio, shared as a leader in film distribution and production in Vietnam, “Presently, our nationwide footprint exceeds 100 screens, complemented by the release of over 200 movies. Therefore, there appears to be ample capacity in the market for additional Hollywood and local content, particularly those with the potential for sustained cinema runs.

“We remain committed to the continuous development and enhancement of both cinema facilities and the overall movie-going experience. Furthermore, our strategic plans include the introduction of more premium cinemas to meet the evolving demands of the market.”

The culmination of this vision is Galaxy Sala, a groundbreaking hybrid cinema model introduced on 20th December 2023 in Thu Duc City of Ho Chi Minh City. This transformative concept transcends the traditional cinema experience, merging cutting-edge technologies with premium positioning. Galaxy Sala is set to offer an immersive movie experience, featuring revolutionary projection technology (IMAX laser), innovative conceptual halls, and a refined, high-end culinary world where movies seamlessly blend with delectable offerings (Cinemuch Eatery and Boulevard Lounge). Moreover, Galaxy Sala also boasts a dedicated screening area designed for hosting upscale events and conferences, accommodating over 100 guests.

Galaxy Sala, a state-of-the-art and upscale cinema situated in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, is set to be inaugurated on December 20, 2023

As CineAsia in Bangkok continues to serve as a nexus for industry trends and innovations, Ms. Mai Hoa underlined the changing role of cinemas in Vietnam. “In Vietnam, cinemas have evolved into more than just places to watch movies. They have become safety social hubs where people gather outside the confines of their homes. Families, including children, now frequent cinemas, emphasizing a growing preference for a premium experience. Beyond the cinematic aspect, individuals seek value in the quality of food and beverages offered. The contemporary audience desires not only a rich cinematic experience but also an environment that enhances the overall quality of time spent with friends and family.”

Galaxy Studio’s transformation of the cinema model to meet the diverse demands of its growing audience is a testament to its commitment to redefining the industry. In the intricate dance between tradition and innovation, Galaxy Studio emerges as a guiding star, leading Vietnam into a new era of cinematic excellence. As the curtain rises on this cinematic renaissance, Galaxy Studio stands as a beacon of inspiration, reminding us that the heart of the film industry beats strongest when fueled by creativity, vision, and an unwavering dedication to the art of storytelling.

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