Huyen Su Thien Do (Legend of the1,000-Year-Old Capital), the first Vietnamese historical drama TVseries, which has been shown on national television channel VTV sinceApril, will be cancelled on June 29.
According to VTV last week only the first 20 episodes will be shown, but the show’s producers had already planned to shoot 70 episodes. Huyen Su Thien Do, one of a few shows that were made to celebrateHanoi’s 1,000-year anniversary last year, has received good ratings sofar by viewers who rarely have the chance to watch a pure made-in-Vietnam historical program.As much of the viewership has a favorable opinion of the show, many have expressed concern over the abrupt cancellation.Sao The Gioi, the producing company, said although it had finishedfilming 42 episodes up to now, its contract with VTV only allowed halfm of them to be aired. "We sent our script to them [VTV] two years ago, when both of the parties were still unsure of its screening schedule,” Sao The Gioi’s representative said.At the time, as Huyen Su Thien Do was one of the first Vietnamese historical drama projects in the industry, VTV feared it may not reach the station’s standards. The producing cost was another problem, because the genre usually needs more financing for things like costumes, props, studios and cinematic techniques.So VTV decided to test how the show would be received first, because it feared Vietnamese audiences, whose tend to favor more developed Korean and Chinese historical dramas, may turn their backs on the program. However, after spending a lot on a massive PR campaign the limited testing contract is not enough time to make any profit. Nguyen Huu Trong, a producer at Sao The Gioi said it would suffer a loss because the production costs are much higher than a usual TV series. "Each episode fetches more than VND 1 billion (US$ 49,000), and the TV ads can’t cover it,” he said. "The film needs much more air time to recover its capital. Twenty episodes are not enough at all.”Nguyen Thanh Luu, deputy head of Editorial Secretariat at VTV said when signing the contract, they had to balance audience needs and financial profit, especially with a big budget project like this. "The contract was signed by both parties unanimously then,” he added. Although June 29 will be the last day Huyen Su Thien Do airs, VTV has not decided what will replace it. There have been rumors that Duong Toi Thanh Thang Long (The Road to Thanh Long Citadel), another series made to celebrate Hanoi’s1000-year anniversary would fill the time slot.