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Da Nang isn’t Hollywood…yet

Monday, May 08, 2017, 09:37 GMT+7

While Da Nang’s decision to put its name up in lights the ‘Hollywood’ style on Son Tra Peninsula has been met with derision, it’s not such an implausible idea. If going big is good enough for King Kong, then why not for Da Nang?

Approval has been given by the Da Nang People's Committee to install letters spelling out ‘DANANG’ on the southern side of Son Tra Peninsula’s Ban Co (Chess Board) Peak, which is 450 meters above sea level, Da Nang Today reported last month, adding that the project is expected to be completed by September 30 this year.

“Its concept is similar to the ‘HOLLYWOOD’ sign on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains,” Da Nang Today said.

I just hope it doesn’t catch fire like the King Kong statue used at the recent opening night of the movie. Poor thing…

As the cities’ breakneck expansion roars ever skyward and the demand for scaffolding becomes hotter than Ho Chi Minh City at this time of year, it might be time for those bolder flights of fancy.

If the massive Hollywood style sign protects the unique monkeys that call Son Tra home then I think it’s a great idea – and if it was big enough, there’d be no room for silly hotel resorts ruining the beauty of one of the city’s most photogenic landscapes.

Mind you, I’m not sure how you’re going to protect six letters 13 meters high by 105 meters long from a category two typhoon storm.

But let’s not stop there. Da Nang also gets year round sunshine and has dozens of scenic destinations within a few hours’ drive of the flourishing metropolis – just like Los Angeles. 

Tomb Raider movies? No problem, we’ve got My Son Holy Land to the south. Romantic beach scenes – heck we’ve got nearly 30 kilometers of beach ready for the job! 

Desert vistas… well, you could shoot the movie in the dried-up river beds to the west and south. James Bond-style car chases – you can’t go wrong with the twisted mountain roads or the four-way intersections that feature traffic going in twelve directions. 

Wanna do hurricane, storm or ‘Waterworld’ films? October to December is great!

There’s also a thriving technology park that’s perfect for animation, CGI studios to set up and heaps of land still available for major film studios to utilize. By the way, you can save on extensive CGI crowd scenes by cheaply hiring the enthusiastic locals. The Vietnamese love performing!

Da Nang also has good infrastructure and wide roads – you could save 40 million U.S. dollars on filming “The Fast and Furious 21”, just kilometers from the studios in uptown Da Nang.

Imagine the boost to tourism in the area too. With dozens of nearly finished resorts about to join Da Nang’s superheated tourism market, we should see the likes of blockbuster megastars Dwayne Johnson, Jackie Chan, Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Jennifer Lawrence and everyone’s favorite, Meryl Streep, popping up around town to visit the markets and try the street food.

I hope I catch sight of the secret woman of my dreams, Scarlett Johansson, in my local coffee shop in Hoi An someday soon… sigh…

Bach Dang Street, the broad promenade along the Han River offers dazzling views of the multi-colored bridges straddling the waterway and is ideal for those ‘Casablanca’ night romantic scenes and fashion shoots. 

Vietnamese are natural stuntmen too. Have you seen the way the electricity and Internet guys climb up those street poles? Or the way they calmly tile the roof on the soon-to-be-completed beach villas three stories up?

I’m sure the city would offer tax concessions and land clearance in a heartbeat if Da Nang could truly become the next Hollywood of the East. Move over, Hong Kong, your day is over!

Ok, ok… so it all seems a bit of over the top but the Vietnamese like to think big and there’s actually nothing wrong with the idea. Vietnamese filmmakers are starting to make their splash on the world’s screens and there’s no shortage of willing investors for profitable movies here. 

Besides, there’s supposedly no such thing as ‘bad publicity’.

I say, put up the sign and see what happens. It’s an ambitious dream, isn’t it? But isn’t that what Hollywood was all about too? The stuff of dreams.

Stivi Cooke

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