A succession of locally produced hit films released in the second half of the year helped Hong Kong’s cinema box office make a remarkable comeback in 2022.
The total box office for the year was HK$1.14 billion ($147 million), down nearly 40% from pre-pandemic 2019, according to new data from Hong Kong Box Office Ltd. In its annual assessment, the agency echoed its earlier alarm and described the situation in 2022 as “very serious”.
The full-year total was only 5% lower than in 2021, and despite government-ordered cinemas closing for 104 days in 2022, this was achieved after efforts by local authorities to limit the spread of COVID.
The closures meant Hong Kong cinemas were dark during the peak periods of Chinese New Year 2022 and Easter. (In 2021, cinemas in Hong Kong were ordered to close for 48 days.)
And even after allowing cinemas to reopen by the end of April 2022, the government has continued to intervene in the sector by maintaining seating limits in cinema halls almost throughout the year. The seating capacity of theaters was limited to 50% capacity for one month and 85% capacity till December 21.
As the situation stabilized in the second half of the year, Hong Kong-produced films enjoyed a strong surge in popularity. Four Hong Kong films ranked in the top ten on the full-year chart, with “Warriors of the Future” breaking the local record of HK$81.8 million ($10.5 million) and finishing third behind “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
The other three were “Table for Six” with HK$77.1 million ($9.88 million), “Mama’s Affair” with HK$41.0 million ($5.26 million) and “The Sparring Partner” with HK$39.4 million ($5.05 million). Other Hong Kong hits include “Chili’s Laughter,” “Detectives vs. Sleuths” and “Hong Kong Family.”
HKBO Ltd indicated that the number of local releases will drop to just 27 in 2022, compared to 49 in 2019 and 46 in 2021. But their total revenue and market share increased.
Hong Kong films scored HK$244 million ($31.2 million) or a 20% share in 2021. In 2022, they achieved HK$337 million ($43.2 million) for a 29.5% market share.