Kwun Tong's Silver Theatre, the last of four pro-Beijing theatres that once operated in the city, closed on July 9 after 46 years, during which it showed films about the lives of local people under colonialism, patriotic mainland movies and, later, mainstream films. But the theatre, which is making way for a redevelopment project, hasn't been forgotten by Chui Hin-wai, 52, theatre management department manager of the Sil-Metropole Organisation that operated the theatre. He shares his memories of 34 years in the entertainment industry with CityChat. 'I went into the cinema industry in 1975, when I was 18 years old. I first worked at the Ruby Theatre in To Kwa Wan, which was also owned by Sil-Metropole and opened in 1964. At the Ruby I was an usher to begin with. After several months, I thought of quitting and trying something else, but the management wanted me to stay. Afterwards, I was told to work in different departments - the art department, the ticket office and the film promotion department. I learned a lot of things. By 1981, I was house manager and had to deal with all matters in the cinema. In 1988, I became the manager of Sil-Metropole's theatre management department and have managed the company's cinema business until now. 'As far as I know, the Silver Theatre was built and opened for business in Kwun Tong in September 1963. In the 1960s, Kwun Tong was a new town. There were fewer people and fewer entertainment places. The Silver Theatre became one of the main entertainment venues at the time. The audiences were mainly families. Adults took along their kids to watch films. Sometimes I heard of kids following strangers into the cinema. Some kids who could not get inside even stood behind the curtain at the door and stole a glance at the film. 'Many years ago, there were different ticket prices for front seats, middle seats and back seats. The front seats were cheapest but sometimes people bought front seat tickets and sat at the back. Many different types of people visited the cinema - some of them very odd and some of them drunk. 'When I worked at the Ruby Theatre, the relationship among colleagues was like a big family. There was a canteen and dormitories, and we worked and lived together. In the 1970s, at least 40 people worked at the cinema. I recall some interesting stories ... About a year ago an old man got locked inside when it closed for the night. There were many false fire alarms and I called firefighters to the cinema several times but no fire really broke out. 'The Silver Theatre experienced good times in the 1970s and 1980s. Several hundred people would queue outside for tickets and revenue was more than HK$1 million a month. The cinema was about 80 per cent full in those days. The good times continued until the 1990s. But the bad times came in 2000. After that audience numbers fell as low as 4 per cent of capacity - about 16 people. 'Sometimes, if there was a popular film, a few hundred people watched it. But this was not often seen in recent years, except on public holidays and the summer break. The reasons for the low revenue could be explained by the bad film market and the Silver Theatre's structural difficulties. The old cinema lacked competitiveness in the cinema market. It could not compete with all the newer ones being opened. That was natural. 'Until 1990, the Silver was one large cinema seating 1,000 people. But then I had it divided into two houses with 440 seats and 804 seats so we could show a greater variety of films. In 2000, I kept the 440-seat house and rented the other one out. 'There were differences between old cinemas like the Silver and mainstream theatres in the city. The operators of most old cinemas also owned the building. But most mainstream cinemas these days can be found in rented premises in shopping malls. 'Although the Silver Theatre has closed, I am proud that I successfully changed it from one large house to two smaller houses and then rented part of it to boost revenue. When the redevelopment project is finished, I want the Silver Theatre to reopen and continue to serve the public. For me, I will continue to work in the industry as long as I can.'