lifestyle • 16 Mar, 2017
The KONG Effect
Where have you been this week?
If you doubted Hollywood's ability to get our attention, you haven't been living in Vietnam the last seven days.
Ending nearly two years of rumour, news reports, celebrity sightings and promotional fanfare, KONG: Skull Island finally put some bums on cinema seats this week.
As if it needed any more publicity, last Thursday’s gala premiere in Saigon literally set the world's media alight. News of the almost comical-if-it-wasn’t-so-dangerous blaze - the one that razed a giant model of Kong - went global. The UK’s Daily Mail called it the ‘hottest ticket in town’, while Variety in the US reposted a Sky News tweet, which read; ‘massive gorilla statue burst into flames at Vietnamese premier of Kong.’ Photo Editors everywhere had fun choosing the most apocalyptic image to run the next day, and YouTube captured the whole thing as it happened, of course.
Up north, proponents of tourism got themselves into a hot spot too, with a few keen to build a statue of the great ape on Hoan Kiem Lake (no fire-twirling allowed there). Thankfully, we were all able to breathe a sigh of relief when it didn't happen, after the city’s administration offered a polite ‘thanks, but err, no thanks’ to the suggestion.
What did happen is that the director of the film, 33-year old American Jordan Vogt-Roberts, scored himself a gig as an Ambassador for Tourism in Vietnam, which caused more than a few people to pause. Accepting the title in Hanoi wearing a camo-suit, the hursuit director offered to do his best to make sure more films get made here. Bless.
Those with an environmental cause also saw an opportunity. Saigon rap-queen Suboi had spent the previous few days hanging out with Vogt-Roberts and her own boyfriend Bao Nguyen in Halong Bay, then spruiked the 'Save Son Doong Cave' campaign on her Instagram. The Huffington Post got on board too, sharing a video about it online.
As for the film itself, there were mixed opinions. Is it a great script? Hmmm. Are the actors perfectly cast? Not sure. Could Brie Larson’s character really have survived that scene? Who knows. But does Kong look amazing? Yes. Are the monster fights incredible? We think so. And, most importantly, does Vietnam shine? Absolutely. Record-breakingly so.
By the numbers, Kong: Skull Island became the country’s biggest opening weekend film ever (taking $2.2million at the local box office), has grossed $157million globally in the five days since its release and continues to play in cinemas everywhere. Our verdict? Four salted popcorn bags out of five. See it before it disappears off the big screen forever. What a week!
Words by jonaspin