Hongkongers call for more cut-price cinema ticket days to boost business in city, say night at movies no longer affordable

Hongkongers call for more cut-price cinema ticket days to boost business in city, say night at movies no longer affordable

Hong Kong residents have called for more “cinema day” discounts throughout the year as many flocked to theatres to take advantage of cut-price tickets on Sunday.

Some who bought tickets complained going to the cinema was no longer affordable entertainment in the city.

Leung Hoi-yung, a 21-year-old student, was among dozens who queued up at Golden Harvest Cinemas in Kowloon Bay’s MegaBox in the afternoon for cheaper-than-usual HK$30 (US$3.83) tickets for Japanese anime film Haikyuu!!: The Dumpster Battle with three friends.

“It’s difficult to find affordable entertainment and leisure activities in Hong Kong for HK$30,” she said. “I enjoy watching movies, but the usual ticket prices ranging from HK$90 to HK$120 per movie are quite expensive.

“When you factor in transport costs and meal expenses, it easily adds up to several hundred dollars each time.”

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More delighted movie-goers with their HK$30 bargain basement tickets to see top box office attractions. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Leung said she hoped cheap film tickets could become a regular event at weekends because it would encourage more people to visit city shops and restaurants.

“If you want to create an inclusive and enjoyable movie experience for everyone, having a single day of discounted tickets a year will not make much of an impact,” she added. “For me, I would be just staying home and tuning in to Netflix for movies if there is no mark down on tickets.”

The event, organised by the Hong Kong Theatres Association, involved 63 cinemas, including ones owned by Golden Harvest, Broadway Cinemas, Emperor Cinemas and MCL, which sold tickets for HK$30 each on Sunday.

Hong Kong’s retail and catering sectors have reported hardship amid a rising trend of city residents spending weekends and holidays in Shenzhen and other neighbouring mainland Chinese cities since the border reopened. Many claim a trip across the border offers better value goods and services.

The first Cinema Day was held on April 27 last year as part of the “Happy Hong Kong” campaign, a government drive designed to bring back positivity after city life was blighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Theatres Association logged a record high single-day attendance of almost 222,000 film fans on Cinema Day 2023.

Dickson Yip Sung-tak, 38, bought tickets to watch Kung Fu Panda 4 in the afternoon and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire at night back-to-back on Sunday with his wife and two sons, aged seven and nine, because of the attractive ticket price and free parking available at MegaBox.

Big demand for discounted tickets for Hong Kong’s Cinema Day on Sunday

“For just HK$240, my entire family can indulge in a full day of entertainment with two movies that my boys wanted to watch,” Yip said. “I am also allowed to redeem two hours of free parking with two ticket receipts.

“It is totally worth the money, considering that a typical meal for a family of four can cost close to HK$1,000,” the business owner said.

“Sometimes, I take my children to Shenzhen for weekend outings because there are more things to do like kart racing, which is way cheaper than here.

“Hong Kong needs to have some compelling incentives to attract us to stay and spend.”

The Golden Harvest and MCL websites showed they had full houses in the afternoon, but there were more seats available for movies scheduled to screen after 9pm.

Some people also used the event to say goodbye to the Golden Harvest Kai Tak in San Po Kong’ Yue Xiu Plaza, which launched in 2018, but where the curtain was scheduled to come down for good on Sunday.

“It’s quite nostalgic to me as I was born and raised nearby so this is my go-to theatre since I was a student and dating my boyfriend,” Janice Yuen Sau-han, a 21-year-old beauty consultant, said.

She picked the Chinese comedy YOLO to watch with her boyfriend.

“This cinema is small and somewhat run-down, but that’s the memory I have with my boyfriend,” Yuen said.

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“I will go to visit the nearby MCL cinema at AIRSIDE in Kai Tak in the future.”

She said HK$30 for a movie was a very attractive deal and that she also hoped it would not be a once-a-year offer only.

“I believe many people refrain from visiting cinemas because of the high ticket prices,” she said. “I would not watch YOLO at the cinema if there was no discount. It’s actually available on some mainland streaming websites.”

Veteran filmmaker Tenky Tin Kai-man suggested an increase in the number of cinema days to at least six or more a year, particularly over low season periods.

“This approach can help extend the peak season by offering discounts during the non-holiday low season, indirectly attracting more audiences back to the theatres,” Tin, who is also the spokesman for the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, said.

He added the industry needed to review its strategies amid the surge in people who opted to spend time across the border for movie experiences.

“Online ticket purchases in mainland China do not incur handling fees and even offer discounts,” Tin said. “Some films even premiere there before being released in Hong Kong, resulting in weak box office performance.

“By extending the cinema days to low season periods, we will have an edge to fight back the competition on the mainland while promoting and marketing the industry ourselves.”

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