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Metroplex is Ray of Hope in HK Cinema Scene

HONG KONG – Leading property developer Hopewell Group has this week opened The Metroplex, a multiplex which aims to reinvigorate Hong Kong’s movie-going scene.

The 9-screen complex is housed within the Kowloon International Trade & Exhibition Centre (KITEC) near Hong Kong’s iconic, but now defunct, old Kai Tak airport.

Aiming for the highest possible technical standards, the complex includes six large and medium-sized theaters (pictured) and three 20-seat VIP screens. Each is equipped with 4K digital projectors and Dolby 7.1 Surround. Five also boast Dolby Atmos systems.

In most other territories in Asia, where cinema and screen numbers are growing, the addition of a single new complex would scarcely cause a ripple. But in Hong Kong, where cinema numbers have dropped by 60% over the past 30 years, The Metroplex is a rare vote of confidence in the embattled sector.

At the end of 2013 there were 45 complexes in operation compared with 48 at the end of 2012. They had a combined 195 screens, compared with 207 in 2012, according to data from the Hong Kong Theatres Association.

Voicing a common feeling among many Hong Kong cinema operators, Tenky Tin, director of the Hong Kong Film Awards Association earlier this week said: “cinemas can’t survive because of the high rents.”

Hopewell, which currently has no other cinema interests, has decided that the sector is worth a serious punt, and has hired Bede Cheng, former selector at the Hong Kong International Film Festival as The Metroplex’s programmer.

Box office in Hong Kong last year managed a 4% increase to US$210 million (HK$1.625 billion), though the number of local titles released dropped from 52 in 2012 to a low of just 42.

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