There’s a bright future for film making in our city

With the right network and support and a good story to tell, Hong Kong cinema can scale new heights

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 February, 2016, 11:08pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 February, 2016, 11:08pm

Those who think Hong Kong cinema has no future should take a look at the recent box office returns. The Mermaid by Stephen Chow Sing-chi has smashed Lunar New Year opening records with more than 2.8 billion yuan (HK$3.3 billion) on the mainland, making it China’s highest-grossing film of all time. The film is equally popular here, hitting more than HK$42 million.

Unlike many blockbusters that appeal with big budgets or sex and violence, the fantasy drama directed by the local-born comedian revolves around conflicts between property development and the environment. Reviews by local and foreign film critics are generally positive. The success owes much to Chow’s stature in the industry. He remains one of the most popular comedians, with many of his movie lines still commonly used by people in everyday life.

But experience shows that actors and film makers who do well here do not necessarily succeed on the mainland. Movies that sell on both sides of the border are rare. It has been argued that The Mermaid probably would not have done so well on the mainland without the backing of top Chinese production firms and distributors. Its success points to the way out for Hong Kong film makers. With the right combination of talents and support, our movies have the potential to reach out to a wider market. It is good that the finance chief has earmarked more funding to promote locally produced movies on the mainland.

Chow alone does not make an industry. And it certainly takes more than one film for the industry to make a comeback. The success of Chow has as much to do with his talent as the times that gave rise to his dominance in the entertainment industry. The question is – do we have another Stephen Chow?

There is no shortage of talent in the industry. Thanks to their resourcefulness and ability to adapt, many professionals have already made their names at home and overseas. With the right network and support and a good story to tell, Hong Kong cinema can scale new heights.