B.O. Drops but Hong Kong FilMart Is a Go

By Frater, Patrick | Variety, November 8, 2019 | Go to article overview

B.O. Drops but Hong Kong FilMart Is a Go


Frater, Patrick, Variety


CIVIC PROTESTS on the streets of Hong Kong have hit theatrical box office to the tune of 20%. But organizers of FilMart, Asia's biggest film and TV rights market, promise that their March 2020 event will go ahead.

The protests, which were sparked by a piece of legislation that would have breached the firewall between Hong Kong's common law legal system and mainland China's Communist Party-controlled judicial system, have now run for 22 weeks.

Civil disobedience shows little sign of halting, despite the withdrawal of the extradition bill, and protests went from being largely peaceful until two months ago, when they became significantly more unpredictable and violent.

The darker turn of events has shown up directly in the direction of the territory's box office. While June and July actually saw year-onyear increases of 23% and 14%, respectively, the subsequent trend has turned sharply negative.

August recorded a drop of 17%, September a punishing 32% fall and October a 13% decrease, according to data supplied by Hong Kong Box Office, a venture backed by the Hong Kong Theatres Assn. and the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Assn.

Despite that gloom, the message being promoted by the Hong Kong Trade Devel- opment Council at the recent Busan and Tokyo film festivals, and again at this week's AFM, is that FilMart will operate as normally as possible.

"We will put in place contingency measures such as shuttles from the airport for visitors concerned by protests or disruption to public transport," sources close to the TDC have told Variety "Similarly, we may expand incentives such as hotel room discounts for registered buyers. …

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