The Hong Kong Theatres Association Ltd was established in 1950 to represent Hong Kong movie theatre owners. The Association’s primary objectives are to lobby the Government on matters such as film classification, copyright, fire safety and venue licensing and to formulate industry rules and to otherwise advance its members interests. In 2006, the Association launched the “International Box Office Essentials”, an on-line system providing real-time Hong Kong box office data, film analysis reports for our industry to subscribe.
In the early 1950's, the living standard in Hong Kong was very low and entertainment was generally inadequate throughout the society. Going to the cineama became the most popular means of entertainment for the general public and as a result, the movie industry was veyr prosperous. At that time, several theatre owners had used their advertising rebate to organized a monthly gathering of the people in the industry for the purpose of socializing and exchanging of ideas. The Key players of the movie industry of the time, namely Chan Shu Kui of Roxy Theatre, Leung Kei Ho of King's Theatre, Wu Shun Tak of Queen's Theatre, Tung Chi Kun of Lee Theatre and Joey Kong of Broadway Theatres observed the success of the monthly gathering and initiated an association for meeting and idea exchange. The association was first located in the office of King's Theatre and Mr. Leung Kei Ho, was the organizer.
In 1956, Mr. Chan Shu Kui, the owner of Roxy Theatre moved the association to his own office in "China Building". The association was then formally registered as the "Hong Kong-Kowloon & New Territories Theatre Association Ltd.". Many celebrities were invited to the opening ceremony of the association. The association was mainly of a friendly nature and served as a place for socializing among the people in the industry. It was after the fire that occurred in "China Building" that the association was moved to Room 705, "Peter Building", 58 Queen's Road Central. Although a formal system was still missing for the association, a governing committee was then formed and monthly meeting was initiated.
On 9th October, 1979, the "Hong Kong-Kowloon & New Territories Theatre Association Ltd.", together with the memorandum of the association, was established. Seven parties registered in the association at that time, including Wong Din Hau (representative for Washington), Cheuk Se Chung (representative for Ocean), Chan Tak Leung (representative for Empress), Lau Chiu (representative for London), Ng Ho Yuen (representative for New York), Poon Kwok Lun (representative for Ruby) and Lee Shek (representative for Jade).
Before the 1970's, the Hong Kong movie industry enjoyed enormous success and people must go to the cinemas in order to watch a movie. The cinemas at that time were famous for their large size. There were consistently 60 to 70 cinemas and group operators of cinemas were seldom found. Therefore, the governing committee of the association at that time consisted mainly of individual owners of cinemas of their appointed reporesentative, and just one secretary made up the entire secretary department for the association. The basis function of the association was just for socializing and the single most important event for the association for the whole year was just the celebrating party for the Chinese New Year that took place once per annum. There were very few organizations that resembled the association and the ones that existed were usually loosely-organized. The owners of cinemas at that time often operated their cinemas in self-owner premises, e.g. Newport, Silver Metropolitan and Shaw Brothers. In addition, it was very easy to obtain the license for public entertainment, and all cinemas could obtain the license before the commencement of operation. Members of the association therefore did not need to ask for help in licensing issues, and there were few instances that the association communicated to a third party on behalf of its members.
In the latter part of the 80's, fundamental changes took place in the movie industry as a result of the economic development of the society. Starting from the first appearance of the multi-screen Capitol Theatre in 1982, multi-screen cinemas basically replaced the large cinemas. The traditional large cinemas could not withstand the impact of the appreciation of realty prices, and sooner or later they were demolished or re-built to be mini theatres. Cinema operation groups emerged, as exemplified by the Edko, Chinachem, Golden Harvest, UA, AMC and MCL. Apart from the Chinachem, Newport, Silver Metropolitan and the Shaw Brothers, cinemas in this era usually operated in rented premises. And partly because of the fact that cinema owners had to control their operating costs and partly because of the lack of efficiency of the licensing department, for the last 10 years there was not a single cinema that was able to get the public entertainmetn license prior to the start of operation. Cinema groups that usually handled their own license applications found that they were more and more constrained by different departments of the government. As the problem worsened and complaints accumulated in recent years, the association formed a special committee to negotiate with the licensing department in the hope the concerned department could put their performance pledge to practice, and thereby relieving the cinema owners from the severe punishment that could result from operating without the proper license. Hence, the association became the major channel of communication between cinema owners and the government.
Nowadays, the association except being the major communication channel with the government, we have also established the first “Hong Kong Box Office Electronic Report”, this electronic report except provides Hong Kong daily box office, also provides real time box office of HK major circuits, and film analysis reports for our industry to subscribe.
In addition, the association leads and co-ordinate members to joint newspaper advertisement on Ming Pao newspaper, after collected the screening data from every member, then published the joint advertisement on Ming Pao newspapers to facilitate the audience.
In 2017, the establishment of the Hong Kong Theatres Association entered its 67th anniversary, in addition to adhering purpose of: Unity Theatre in the industry; to promote the affairs of Hong Kong cinema; to develop codes of practice for theatre industry and safeguard the interests of members; but also set the < for the audience, a step more forward > goals, and constantly create a better business environment for Hong Kong entertainment industry.
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