Theatrical box office in Hong Kong shrank a modest 2% in 2016. But with two local films and a runaway Korean hit in the top ten, there was reason for Asian film makers to cheer the performance.
Data from Hong Kong Box Office Ltd showed gross box office of US$252 million (HK$1.95 billion) compared with US$257 million (HK$1.99 billion) in 2015. The decrease came despite larger numbers of local and imported titles finding theatrical outings, a total of 348, compared with 332 in 2015. The number of Hong Kong films released last year grew to 61, up from 59 in 2015. The imports total rose from 273 in 2015 to 287 in 2016.
The record breaking winner was "Captain America: Civil War" with US$14.6 million (HK$113 million.) In second place, and breaking records for an Asian film in Hong Kong theaters was Korean zombie horror "Train to Busan" with a sensational US$8.77 million (HK$68.0 million.)
Breaking records for the top scoring local film, "Cold War 2" placed third on the overall chart with US$8.54 million (HK$66.2 million.) Also considered as a local title, Stephen Chow's "The Mermaid" placed seventh with US$7.12 million (HK$55.2 million.)
The differences between the Hong Kong scores and the box office results for mainland China are as wide as ever. "The Mermaid" and "Zootopia" ranked first and second this year in China, but only seventh and eighth in Hong Kong. "Train to Busan" and "Deadpool," which came sixth in Hong Kong, have not been allowed releases in the mainland.
China's top ten included three other China-Hong Kong productions that did not feature in the Hong Kong top ten: "The Monkey King 2," "The Man From Macau 3," and "Operation Mekong." Such scores are likely to fuel claims that the Hong Kong production industry is these days increasingly driven by mainland Chinese tastes, while Hong Kong audiences still generally favor Hollywood or local Hong Kong titles.