The Hong Kong government closed all cinemas on March 28 as the second wave of COVID-19 brought by returnees began to spread. Cinemas reopened six weeks later, on May 8, as the number of cases in the city came under control and social distancing measures began to be relaxed.
The impact on the box office however was felt before cinemas closed and continued after their reopening.
According to figures provided by the Hong Kong Box Office Ltd., a company under the Hong Kong Motion Pictures Industry Association, box office income totalled just $37.8 million (HK$293 million) in the first six months of 2020. That was 72% down on the $135 million (HK$1 billion) recorded during the equivalent period last year.
While the number of local titles released fell from 21 to 18, Hong Kong production Dayo Wong’s self-funded comedy “The Great Grandmaster,” topped the chart. Released during the Lunar New Year period, about a week before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, it earned nearly $3.8 million (HK$29.5 million).
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South Korean disaster drama “Ashfall,” released on January 1, was the top-earning non-Hong Kong film, taking $2.4 million (HK$18.6 million). Sam Mendes’ “1917” was the top scoring Hollywood movie, with $2 million (HK$15.6 million).
Local films released after cinemas re-opened such as elderly gay drama “Suk Suk,” China-Hong Kong love drama “My Prince Edward,” and thriller “Declared Legally Dead” accounted for other top 10 chart positions.
Hong Kong has recorded 1,234 coronavirus cases and seven deaths.