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Hollywood Side-Lined at Festive Hong Kong Box Office

BERLIN – Locally made films pushed Hollywood aside and scooped four of the top five places at the Hong Kong box office over the Chinese New Year period.

The strong performance of the local films lifted the overall box office by 16% to HK$51 million (US$6.58 million), according to the Motion Picture Industry Association.

Top place went to “Golden Chicken SSS” the third part of a prostitution-related comedy franchise that last clucked ten years ago, with a score of HK$20.8 million (US$2.68 million). It topped the chart on each of the four days from Thursday Jan. 30 to Sunday Feb. 2, but only narrowly beat “From Vegas to Macau,” a gambling comedy franchise with HK$19.4 million (US$2.50 million). Third was “The Monkey King” and “Hello Babies” fourth.

While it is not unusual to see local films do well at this time of the year, normally Hollywood has considerably more to cheer about. The scores of fifth placed “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and “Saving Mister Banks” in sixth were weak at just HK$3.05 million ($393,000) and HK$3.11 million ($401,000).

Hollywood’s market share retreated last year in other parts of Asia too, including China and Korea, now the world’s second and sixth ranking box office markets.

Although Hong Kong is a small territory with annual box office of around $200 million, it is a free market, unlike mainland China where regulators have been known to massage release dates at key times of year in order to favor Chinese films.

The scores also show continued divergence in taste between audiences in Hong Kong and China. While “The Monkey King” was the runaway box office champion in mainland China, it only placed third in Hong Kong, generally less susceptible to folksy Chinese tales.

Another factor, highlighted at last year’s CineAsia convention, is that cinemagoers in some territories are becoming cooler to the charms of 3D. While that may be true of Hong Kong, audiences in China still thrill to the stereoscopic experience.

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