×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hong Kong Protests Hurt Box Office, but FilMart Promises Business as Usual

Civic protests on the streets of Hong Kong have hit theatrical box office to the tune of 20%. But organizers of FilMart, Asia’s biggest film and TV rights market, promise that their March 2020 event will go ahead.

The protests, which were sparked by a piece of legislation that would have breached the firewall between Hong Kong’s common law legal system and mainland China’s Communist Party-controlled judicial system, have now run for 22 weeks.

Civil disobedience shows little sign of halting, despite the withdrawal of the extradition bill, and protests went from being largely peaceful until two months ago, when they became significantly more unpredictable and violent.

The darker turn of events has shown up directly in the direction of the territory’s box office. While June and July actually saw year-on-year increases of 23% and 14%, respectively, the subsequent trend has turned sharply negative.

August recorded a drop of 17%, September a punishing 32% fall and October a 13% decrease, according to data supplied by Hong Kong Box Office, a venture backed by the Hong Kong Theatres Assn. and the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Assn.

Despite that gloom, the message being promoted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council at the recent Busan and Tokyo film festivals, and again at this week’s AFM, is that FilMart will operate as normally as possible.

“We will put in place contingency measures such as shuttles from the airport for visitors concerned by protests or disruption to public transport,” sources close to the TDC have told Variety. “Similarly, we may expand incentives such as hotel room discounts for registered buyers. That’s because we know that if the buyers are there then the sellers will be too.”

The TDC’s approach of cautious optimism counts on the protests either dying down or that pragmatic folk will by then have adjusted to a new normal, despite the ongoing political crisis.

Some conferences and events have abandoned Hong Kong in favor of other destinations. The TV industry’s ongoing Asia Video Summit (previously called CASBAA) decamped to Singapore.

Others have decided to stick it out.

Theatrical exhibition and distribution convention CineAsia, set for early December, argues that despite the headlines, business activities are largely operating as normal. “The HK Convention and Exhibition Centre has been operating busily as normal every day and 46 exhibitions were held here between June and October… Cross-border sea and land transportation are convenient as ever, with multiple road and ferry connections. The Hong Kong Airport, after a short interruption early August, and flights in and out of Hong Kong, have since resumed completely normal,” CineAsia said recently in an email to participants.

Such a rosy picture cannot, however, be painted for leisure travel. Disney told investors on Thursday that there has been a “significant decrease” in tourism, causing it to rethink its planned expansion at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disney CFO Christine McCarthy told investment analysts that Hong Kong Disneyland revenue dropped by $55 million in the last quarter. She forecast a revenue fall of $80 million in the next reported quarter, and said that if the protests continue, the theme park could see a $275 million full-year drop.

More Biz

  • Sean "Diddy" Combs Revolt TV

    Sean Combs Slams 'Illusion of Economic Inclusion' at Comcast Amid Byron Allen Fight

    Sean Combs has come out swinging against Comcast in a lengthy statement prompted by the cable giant’s legal battle with Entertainment Studios chief Byron Allen. Combs accused Comcast of maintaining “the illusion of economic inclusion” in its handling of a carriage agreement with Combs’ Revolt TV channel. Combs was critical of Comcast for failing to [...]

  • Bon Iver Justin Vernon Grammys

    Bon Iver, Tanya Tucker, Thom Yorke Lead Indie Labels to 44% of Grammy Nominations

    Ever since Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” won Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards, independent labels have seen their star rise on “Music’s Biggest Night,” and that looks set to continue at the 2020 ceremony, where Bon Iver, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, Elvis Costello and others have gotten big nods. [...]

  • US Capitol

    Congress Introduces AM-FM Act to Revise Copyright Law for Terrestrial Radio

    Senator Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Jerrold Nadler today introduced the Ask Musicians for Music Act (AM-FM), which aims to revise existing copyright law for radio stations and musicians. Under the current copyright system, radio stations can use sound recordings over their airwaves without paying royalties to creators who own a stake in the sound recordings. [...]

  • Harriet Tubman Cynthia Erivo

    AMC Theatres Fires Three Employees Over Racial Profiling Incident During 'Harriet' Screening

    AMC Theatres has fired three employees in one of its Louisiana multiplexes after an incident during a screening of “Harriet.” An African American women’s group called the 504 Queens allege that 15 members were racially profiled while watching “Harriet” at AMC’s Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie on Nov. 7. A letter sent from the organization’s [...]

  • Byron Allen

    Byron Allen's Discrimination Suit Against Comcast Should Be Allowed to Move Forward

    More than anything, the Supreme Court justices seemed bemused. Comcast executives and entrepreneur Byron Allen came to the nation’s high court on Nov. 13 to duke it out over the racial discrimination case that Allen’s Entertainment Studios has pursued since 2015.  But the question put before the court was a narrow issue of legal precedent [...]

  • Christine Baranksi Karey Burke Coutney Kemp

    Christine Baranski, Karey Burke and Courtney Kemp Set for Brandon Tartikoff Awards

    Christine Baranski, “Power” creator and showrunner Courtney Kemp and ABC Entertainment chief Karey Burke are among the five recipients set for the 2020 Brandon Tartikoff Awards, to be handed out in January as part of the annual NATPE conference in Miami. Jeff Zucker, chairman of news and sports for WarnerMedia and president of CNN Worldwide, [...]

  • BMI’s Charlie Feldman Retiring After 31

    BMI’s Charlie Feldman Retiring After 31 Years With Company

    Charlie Feldman, BMI’s Vice President of Creative in New York, announced today that he will retire from the company at the end of the year. A 31-year veteran of BMI, Feldman will continue to consult for the company in the new year, according to the announcement. Mike O’Neill, President and CEO of BMI, said, “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content