Hong Kong’s biggest cinema will close next month when its lease comes to an end, it has been announced.“Due to the expiry of our lease, the Grand Cinema will cease operating on February 28, 2019,” the cinema announced on its website. “Thank you for your continued support in the last 11 years.”
The Grand Cinema is inside the upmarket shopping centre Elements, at Kowloon Station. It has 12 screens, with about 1,600 seats in total.
It was opened in 2007 and operated by the Shaw Group. The cinema was a joint project between the group and Multiplex Cinema Limited, which poured more than HK$100 million into it in one of the biggest investments for a cinema project in the city.
Tenky Tin Kai-man, head of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, was surprised by the news. He suspected the reason for the lease being terminated might be a rent increase, but said he was not worried about the premises’ future because the cinema is in a prime location and is popular with film producers for premieres.
“It is large, well located and convenient, and close to parking,” he said.
Tin said high ticket prices caused by high rents were the main thing that discouraged people from going to the cinema. Other factors included the popularity of the online streaming service Netflix, which keeps many film fans at home.
Tin said high rent was a general problem for cinemas in the city, especially when the box office struggles. He said he hoped the government would help provide more suitable venues for the industry to rent.“Cinemas are important in cultural inheritance,” he said.
A representative from the Grand Cinema said the decision to close was because the Shaw Group needed to consolidate its operations. “So when the contract was about to expire we decided not to renew,” she said, declining to say whether the rent to renew had increased.
The Elements mall said there would be a new operator for the premises, but did not say when, or whether it would continue as a cinema.
The Grand screens both mainstream and independent films. It first introduced the Dolby Atmos system, a surround-sound technology, to Hong Kong and has consistently been one of the top five local cinemas since its opening in 2007, in box office takings.
There are 57 cinemas in Hong Kong, with about 250 screens and 40,000 seats.