NEW BOUNCE FOR HONG KONG The island’s flagging film industry is ready to capitalize on the hungry mainland market, reports.
Arecent movie exhibition highlighted the longtime concern over the fading film industry in Hong Kong, which was one of Asia’s most prolific hubs about three decades ago.
Hong Kong Movie Week, co-sponsored by the Beijing Office of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administration Region and Broadway Cinematheque, released five well-received Hong Kong movies in Tianjin for showings during the past week.
The displayed titles included coming-of-age movie My Voice, My Life, directed by Oscar-winning documentary maker Ruby Yang, and the sports flick Full Strike and the crime thriller Two Thumbs Up, which were seen by mainland moviegoers for the first time in theaters.
The release list also had comedy Little BigMaster and Dot 2 Dot, this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards’ nominee. Both had been screened on the mainland early this year.
Many observers say the Hong Kong film industry was in its golden age between the 1980s and mid-’90s. During that period, the region produced about 300 movies every year and boasted a big fan base across Asia.
The classic works of action superstars, such as Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-fat, have become part of the collective memory of a generation of Chinese movie fans.
Most insiders attribute the fall of the Hong Kong movie industry to the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Another factors: top filmmakers were lured toHollywood, and more formulaic plots ruined viewers’ appetites for such films.
The yearly output has shrunk to around 50 titles since 2003.
In contrast, veteran Hong Kong filmmakers are enjoying a boom in the mainland market, which produced 618 movies last year and created a record box office of 29.6 billion yuan ($4.77 billion).
“The early spirit of Hong Kong movies is not dying. HongKong has created many classic titles. We have the confidence to make new ones,” saysHongKongMovieWeek’s front man, Nick Cheung.
Cheung, a two-time winner of Hong Kong Film Awards’ best actor, recently starred in the crime thriller Helios, which grossed 210 million yuan over theMay Day holiday.
With a cast of Hong Kong A-listers, the movie was seen by critics as an effort to revive Hong Kong movies.
There is also hope Hong Kong filmmakers will learn how to better appeal to mainland moviegoers.
Kung fu master director Tsui Hark triumphed in the revolutionary film The Taking of TigerMountain, which brought in a box office of 880 million yuan.
Derek Tung-Shing Yee, famed for directing crime films, chose the extras working in China’s largest film shooting location, Hengdian, as the subject of his upcoming film, I AmSomebody.
Not surprisingly, most of the top Hong Kong filmmakers, who have traditionally spoken Mandarin poorly, have worked to improve that shortcoming.
Veteran Hong Kong film producer ShiNan-sun, speaking at the justconcluded Shanghai International Film Festival, saysHong Kong filmmakers know how to tailor their work for an international market and winWestern audiences.
The Taking of Tiger Mountain, for example, gained the Chineselanguage movies’ largest overseas distribution in recent years.
“In France, 100 cinemas will screen the movie. It’s very inspiring,” says Shi, who is also the producer of the movie. Contact the writer at email@example.com
The 3-D epic TheTakingofTigerMountain, directed by Tsui Hark, is one of the most successful coproductions by Hong Kong and mainland filmmakers.