Hong Kong Box Office: Local Films Drive Rebound in 2022

A succession of locally-made hit films released in the second half of the year helped the cinema box office in Hong Kong to stage a remarkable comeback in 2022.

Aggregate box office for the year was HK$1.14 billion ($147 million), some 40% lower than pre-pandemic 2019, according to new data from Hong Kong Box Office Limited. In its annual assessment, the organization echoed its earlier alarm and described the situation in 2022 as “very severe.”

The full year total was only 5% lower than in 2021 and was achieved despite cinemas being closed for 104 days on government orders in 2022, following local authorities’ attempt to limit the spread of COVID.

Closures meant that Hong Kong cinemas were dark during the 2022 Chinese New Year and Easter peak periods. (In 2021, Hong Kong’s cinemas were ordered shut for 48 days.)

And even after cinemas were allowed to reopen in late April 2022, the government continued to intervene in the sector, maintaining seating limits on cinemas for almost all of the year. Theaters’ seating capacity was capped at 50% for one month and at 85% capacity until as recently as December 21.

As conditions stabilized in the second half of the year, Hong Kong-produced films enjoyed a strong surge in popularity. Four Hong Kong pictures achieved top ten places in the full year chart, with “Warriors of Future” breaking local records with HK$81.8 million ($10.5 million), to place third behind “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

The three others were “Table for Six” with HK$77.1 million ($9.88 million), “Mama’s Affair” with HK$41.0 million ($5.26 million) and “The Sparring Partner” with HK$39.4 million ($5.05 million). Other Hong Kong hits included “Chilli Laugh Story,” “Detectives Vs Sleuths” and “Hong Kong Family.”

HKBO Limited showed that the number of local releases dropped to just 27 in 2022, compared with 49 in 2019 and 46 in 2021. But their aggregate revenues and market share climbed.

In 2021 Hong Kong films scored HK$244 million ($31.2 million) or a 20% share. In 2022, they achieved HK$337 million ($43.2 million) for a 29.5% market share.

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