Hong Kong’s cinema industry sequel

May 29, 2017 / By

Hong Kong’s famed motion picture industry has slowed down over the past 25 years, driven by a myriad of factors – including talent and resources flowing to a more lucrative mainland China, impacting young filmmakers who are unable to make the same impact their predecessors did.

We’ve seen the number of cinemas in the city declining from about 120 in 1993, to just close to 50 in 2016. This figure has remained the same since 2006. Whilst the growth of multiplex cinemas has ensured that the number of screens per hundred thousand population remained broadly constant since 1993, the shrinking size of theatres has pushed seating provisions down substantially, from 20.3 to 5.0 per thousand people over the same timeframe.

Picture1_29May2017_v2Note: [1] as at end-September 2016
Source: Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and Census and
Statistics Department of Hong Kong SAR Government, JLL

Yet interest in the cinematic experience appears to be making a comeback, driven by innovation and technology advancements such as 3D movies.  Since 2011, box office revenue has increased by 39 per cent, from HKD 1.4 billion (US$180 million) to HKD 1.9 billion (US$244 million) in 2016. There has been higher revenue per seat, up 53 per cent over the same period.

Picture2_29May2017_v2Source: Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and
Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong SAR Government,
Motion Picture Industry Association and JLL

Over the next 12 months, a number of new cinemas will open in the city. Local operator, Pegasus Entertainment, will open new cinemas in range of locations on Hong Kong Island and the New Territories while Broadway are set to launch new cinemas at YOHO MALL in Yuen Long and Cityplaza in Quarry Bay.

Finding premises that meet all the regulatory and business requirements, however, remains challenging. A typical four-screen cinema requires at least 10,000 sq ft of floor space with ceiling heights of at least 16 ft.

Fortunately, growing interest from cinema operators is happening at a time when the government is attempting to boost cinema locations in the city. As part of its broader efforts to shore up the city’s creative industry, the government has started to include a requirement to incorporate cinemas in the conditions of sales for a select number of land sale tenders. Although these new sites will not be able to accommodate current demand, it paves the way for the industry to grow further.

From a landlord’s perspective, the uptick in demand from operators is a positive sign for the city’s struggling retail sector. However, landlords need to balance the benefits of incorporating cinemas into their developments against the lower rentals compared with general retailers. Still, much like F&B, cinemas can help increase footfall and improve their bottom line.

As an avid moviegoer, I am all ready to sit back and enjoy the new glitzy cinematic experiences that lie ahead.

Click here to read our Real Views article, “Can building more cinemas revive Hong Kong’s movie industry?”.


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