Watching movies has long been the biggest enjoyment that Hong Kong people have. There was nowhere to go except theatres whenever you wanted to watch a movie int the old days, nevertheless, theatres have undergone many changes over a hundred years. Below are some interesting records which may enable us to have a flashback of the cinematic history marked by vicissitude and to gain some new insights through the past.
1. The first theatre in Hong Kong as a trading port
Tung Hing Theatre, which was built in 1867 and located between Market Street (which was re-named as Po Hing Fong in 1909) and Grace Street (which was re-named as Po Yan Street) in Sheung Wan, was re-named as Chung Hing Yuen (or Chung Hing Theatre) towards to end of the 19th century. At the time the Duke of Edinburgh visited Hong Kong in 1869, a Cantonese opera was perform purposely by the Chinese community as a tribute to such asignificant guest. Movies were started to show in the early 20th century and the theatre ceased operation in early 1910.
2. Theatre with the most spacious seats
Palace Theatre, which was situated at the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay, was inaugurated on 14 November 1979 and claimed to be the one and only theatre, which was the most luxurious and high-class in Hong Kong. The first movie put on screen was "Alien", followed by "America Gigolo" and "A Clockwork Orange". Among those screened movies, "Somewhere in Time" was shown up to 223 consecutive days, set a record for one single movie to be shown at one single theatre. The record was later broken by the movie "Yen Family" screened exclusively at CineArt House (for which it has been played for 567 days from 20 December 1990 to 10 July 1992 with a total box office taking of HK$11,546,013.00 for one single film at one single theatre). Palace Theatre stopped operating on 24 April 1994 and the film last screened being "The Innocent".
3. The largest number of screens in one theatre
PREMIERE ELEMENTS 及 K11 Art House each has twelve screens.
PREMIERE ELEMENTS situated at 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, and commenced business on 1 Mar 2019.
K11 Art House situated at Level 4, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloona and commenced business on 6 Mar 2021.
4. Theatre holding the largest capacity and that the least
Paris Theatre, with a seating capacity of 3,000, starting business on 25 August 1966 and closing down in March 1992, with the first film "Colourful Youth" shown was the largest theatre. Nowadays, Sunbeam Theatre is the largest theatre with a seating capacity of 1033, starting business on 16 September 1972.
5. Theatre charging the highest price
The theatre charged the most to date is the CORONET in Emperor Cinemas Entertainment Building, each being at HK$290 (including Delicate Gourmet Treat).
6. Evolution of tickets
Prior to 1980 a theatre used to be with a capacity of over 800 seats in different divisions, including the front-stall, back-stall, dress-circle, lodge and etc., with different prices set for each category. Alongside the change of times came the change of the mode of theatre management, big theatres have been redeveloped into mini-theatres with multiple screens. Nowadays there are only general seats (or hall seats) in the mini-theatres together with "wing-boxes" for couples in love, with tickets being charged at a standardized price.
7. The first theatre selling tickets through computer
It was Imperial Theatre which at an early stage in 1989 first equipped with the service of selling tickets through computers, being followed suit by such other circuits as UA, Broadway and Golden Harvest, has become a general practice.
8. The first theatre presenting ticket sales through telephone and website
The UA chain of theatres was the first to service "booking through the City Line" in 1993 and later on website in 1997.
9. The First theatre employing digital-screening
The New Imperial Theatre at 220 Wanchai Road in Hong Kong was the first theatre to screen movies using digital-screening technique on 1 July 1997 and the movie was named "Our Last Day" directed by Cheng Pou-soi and produced by B & S Film Production Ltd. That theatre has closed down.
10. The first mini-cinema
It was the Capital Theatre in Tonkin Street in Shumshuipo; it commenced business in mid 1982.
11. The first theatre equipped with air-conditioning
It was the King's Theatre in Queen's Road Central between Wyndham Street and D'Aguilar Street. The theatre was built in 1931 and demolished in 1990; and the building now on the site is the re-erected "Entertainment Building"