Nhung Co Gai Chan Dai (Long Legged Girls), Vietnam's first privately funded feature filmsince the government ended its state monopoly on film making in 2002, hasbecome a huge local hit, earning an estimated$320,000 (VND5 bn) since its opening on June 17.

The Vietnamese tale aboutfashion models was made by first-time director Vo Ngoc Dang on a $127,000 (VND2bn) budget, funded by public relationscompany Galaxy.

Spurred by the success,production manager Dinh Thanh Huong of Galaxy's film division said that thecompany aims to make two films per year. Next up is VND2bn Lady From Hell, which is scheduled to start filming in Septemberwith a release in January 2005.

The director attached todirect Lady From Hell is Le Hoang -the same man who made state-funded GaiNhay (Bar Girls) about urban prostitutes. Last year it worked a box officemiracle in Vietnam, reportedly grossing $825,000 (VND 13bn). A sequel, Lo Lem He Pho (Street Cinderella)followed, directed by Le as before, and did well too with a $445,000 (VND 7bn)take.

Private film studios wereallowed in Vietnam by the Ministry of Culture and Information two years ago.The commercial success of Bar Girlshas raised interest among private investors, and at least six to seven privatefilm companies have since been formed.