Hong Kong Box Office Records First Annual Drop in 10 Years

Courtesy of Edko
'Cold War 2' was the top grossing domestic film in 2016

The Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association cites "cooled" audience interest and uploads to Facebook, along with a weaker slate of Hollywood blockbusters compared to 2015.

The Hong Kong box office recorded a drop in 2016, marking the first decline in 10 years.

Box office revenue in Hong Kong reached $250 million (HK$1.95 billion) for the year compared with the 2015 gross of $255 million (HK$1.99 billion), according to Hong Kong Box Office Ltd., a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA) and the Hong Kong Theatres Association. That was a 2 percent drop in both U.S. dollars and in local currency terms.

The last time the Hong Kong box office posted an annual decline was in 2006, when revenue fell 1.72 percent.

The total number of films released increased last year from 332 in 2015 to 348. That included 61 homegrown films and 287 foreign imports.

The number of admissions decreased 5 percent to 25.66 million admissions, according to Nelson Iu, assistant general manager of MPIA. That was the first admissions drop in Hong Kong since 2006. "The movie-going atmosphere has cooled down a little," Iu said.

MPIA has also noticed a trend of recently released Hong Kong films being uploaded to Facebook for live-streaming just days after the film's bow in theaters. "Copyright infringement isn't a new thing, but uploading to Facebook for streaming is an occurrence that appeared more in 2016," Iu said. "We recorded 200,000 views of a local production on Facebook days after its theatrical release. That poses as a new threat to the box office."

Disney/Marvel's Captain America: Civil War topped the 2016 Hong Kong box office, grossing $14.5 million. South Korean zombie thriller Train to Busan took second place with $8.7 million, and Hong Kong production Cold War 2 came in third with $8.5 million.

The year-over-year drop in Hong Kong can also be attributed to the fact that 2015 was a banner year for Hollywood blockbusters. The 2016 top three's combined gross of $31.7 million paled in comparison to 2015's top three, which made $39.4 million. Those films were The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and animated feature Minions. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also released in 2015 and made $8.4 million in the territory by the end of 2015.