Sunday, January 24, 2021

[2021.01.25] HONG KONG CINEMAS HOPES FOR A LUNAR NEW YEAR BAN LIFT

Raymond Wong says although operation is tough he still has hope for cinemas in the future

Carlos Chan and Michelle Wai starred READY OR KNOT hopes for a smooth Lunar New Year release

THE WAY WE KEEP DANCING was scheduled for a Lunar New Year release long ago but still does not know whether they will open on time

SUGAR STREET STUDIO goes against tradition and daringly chooses a Lunar New Year's Day release

Lee Kai Ming believes that in 2021 cinemas would gradually improve and is confident in a complete recover in 2022
courtesy of mingpao.com

The pandemic severely impacted the cinema industry. In 2020 cinemas were forced to close three times, losing Easter, Summer, and Christmas golden periods. Currently they still are unable to resume operation. The government's social distance measures would end on January 27th, by then the cinemas would have halted operation for 142 days. So far they still do not know when they would open up again. The Hong Kong Theaters Association wrote to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor and other officials in hopes of discussing under conditional restrictions the resumption of business so thousands of employees would be able to get past the Lunar New Year. Not just the cinema employees but cinema bosses also complained. The earlier government assistance was only the bare minimum. One of the cinema owners Raymond wong Pak Ming lamented that the pain was beyond description. Sunbeam theater's Lee Kai Ming felt that optimism lay within pessisism as he described the cinema and the stage businesss as early in the recovery stages and would slowly return this year; founded last year ACX cinema circuit even planned to expand.

With 6 cinemas under its banner in Mongkok, Kowloon Bay, Causeway Bay, Chai Wan and Tsuen Wan, boss Raymond Wong Pak Ming lamented that due to the pandemic the cinema industry suffered beyond any description. He said, "Langham Place in Mongkok for example once made HK$ 123 million a year. Last year it only made HK$ 28 million all year and was already in first place. You can imagine how brutal the business was for other cinemas last year. Most of the time they were under government order to close. Even when they were opened, social distance order reduced the seat to half."

Although cinemas received government assistance, Wong Pak Ming felt that it did not help much. "In terms of assistance, cinemas received the least. Each screen received HK$ 100,000. The 6 screen cinema in Langham Place only received HK$ 600,000, but the Langham Place monthly rent was HK$ 6 million. Every month it suffered HK$ 5.4 million loss before employee salary and other expenses. The assistance was only given once, but the cinema suspended operation for more than a month. The loss is rather enormous."

Wong Pak Ming said that going to the movies is actually the safest. Everyone would wear a mask, no food or beverage would be permitted inside, and no one would talk while watching a movie. Thus last year not a single case was confirmed to happen inside a cinema. He said, "I hope the government would lift the restriction on cinemas as soon as possible so they can resume operation. Even with social distancing there would still have little room for survival. With full closure, the cineam industry truly is in trouble. Last year we already lost Easter, Summer, Christmas and New Year, we don't want to lose the Lunar New Year too."

Although current operation is difficult, Wong Pak Ming still had hope for the cinema industry future. Earlier he bought back 3 Cinema City cinemas that were currently in operation in Causeway Bay, Chai Wan and Tsuen Wan for HK$ 108 million. In 2017 Wong Pak Ming sold Transmit Media Entertainment (formerly Pegasus Entertainment), including these three cinemas along with Langham Place Cinema City for HK$ 486 million to Mainland property developer R&F Properties' Zhang Liang. The group earlier announced that due to these 3 cinemas' past performance, their pandemic caused temporary closure, and the rapid decline of cinema business profit, they along with the entertainment media marketing business were sold back to Wong Pak Ming and disturbed resources to other businesses with higher development potential.

Sunbeam Theater's Lee Kai Ming said that Sunbeam was just like other cinemas. Last year it halted operation for over 100 days and suffered tremendous loss. Despite being sold out, the Cantonese Opera performanced had to refund the tickets due to cancellation. He said, "The operation really is very tough. Luckily the property owner Law Sau Fai understood and didn't force us to pay rent. However that doesn't mean we won't have to pay. I hope he would be able to give us some discount."

He felt that every step would be difficult for the stage and the cineam business in the future. Despite certain hardship he was full of hope, believing that this business would recover from the pandemic in 2021 slowly. He was confident that in 2022 the cinema industry would fully return to what it used to be. He said, "There is optimism amid pessisism. I am grateful for the property owner and the audience's support and understanding. As a cinema operator, in the midst of all the hardship I feel love in humanity."

Formed in 2020, the ACX cinema circuit at the end of last year landed in North Point and set up its first cinema with 4 screens. The VIP cinema was the only one with massage chairs in Hong Kong. However only after 4 days of opening it was closed due to hte pandemic. Even though it still has not been able to resume normal operation, the company did not fear the pandemic or certain losses. It was still optimistic about the cinema industry's future and was looking for locations to keep opening cinemas. The Emperor cinema circuit in November last year also expanded with 6 screen, 800 seat cinema in Tseung Kwan O.

Whether cinemas would be able to open for the Lunar New Year, it remained unknown. However film companies have already made preparations in hopes of new films would be able to open for the Lunar New Year, including THE WAY WE KEEP DANCING, Carlos Chan Ka Lok and Michelle Wai Sze Nga's READY OR KNOT and the Eric Kot Man Fai and So Ho Yi starred ghost film SUGAR STREET STUDIO. The Andy Lau Tak Wa and Sean Lau Ching Wan starred SHOCK WAVE 2 originally was to open for Christmas last year. This film has already made over 1.1 billion RMB in the Mainland. Whether its Hong Kong release date would be extended to the Lunar New Year it remained undecided.

[2021.01.25] THE MUSIC MUST GO ON FOR THE HONG KONG RECORD INDUSTRY

Vincy Chan
courtesy of on.cc

The record industry under the pandemic faced difficult obstacles. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Hong Kong Group) as the Hong Kong record industry's leading organization is determined to guide the Hong Kong record industry out of the crisis and released "The Music Must Go On" plan, which would give some classic songs from records that reached platinum or gold record status in the past 40 years all new arrangement and drastically different styles. 55 record companies and music labels will participate in the plan, with 113 classic songs, 98 participating singers and bands, and create over 800 outsourced positions for the industry.

This plan has the sponsorship of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government's "CreateHong Kong", the assistance and support from the Hong Kong Record Industry Association and the Music Publishers Association of Hong Kong, and the enthusiastic participation from the industry. IFPI chief Fung Tim Chi said, "Under the pandemic, all performers and creative teams are forced to stop. When as many as 70% of professionals in the industry are freelance workers, the job stoppage has affected them deeply. As the industry organization, the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (Hong Kong Group) planned 'The Music Must Go On' plan. With strong support and sponorship from 'Create Hong Kong', the Hong Kong record industry in the short term would release a series of songs to provide jobs for professionals while entertaining music fans. The plan brings together singers and creative teams to study how to remake hits. They will bring pleasant surprises to music fans."

Famous record producer Cheung Kai Tim said, "The plan is very meaningful, it has several hundred classic Chinese songs for us to choose from to package anew and remake to turn into new 2020 versions. They benefit many friends in the music industry, like record companies, singers and musicians."

Under the Music Must Go On 2020 plan, the newly arranged classic songs included Zarahn's performance of George Lam Chi Cheung's DISCO BUMPKINS; Chris Babida's performance of Beyond's WIDE SEA OPEN SKY; Alfred Hui Ting Tung's performance of George Lam Chi Cheung's CHASING MEMORIEs; Janice Vidal (Wai Lan)'s performance of Danny Chan Pak Keung's RIPPLE; ROWENA CORTEZ's performance of Chan Pak Keung's My STORY; Linda Wong Hing Ping's performance of Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing's BLAME YOUR EXCESSIVE BEAUTY and Faye Wong's THAT HELPLESS DAY; Dear Jane's performance of Aaron Kwok Fu Sing's CALL OF LOVE; Candy Lo Hau Yam's performance of Eason Chan Yik Shun's SLOW DANCE IN THE DARK; Vincy Chan (Wing Yi)'s performance of Stefanie Sun Yanzi's DARK SKY; Terence Lam Ka Him's performance of Tanya Chua's PARABOLA; Susan Wong Chui Shan's performance of Anita Mui Yim Fong's HELL FLOWER and Sugar Club's performance of David Tao's LOVE ME OR HIM and Jacky Cheung Hok Yau's HOW TO LET YOU GO.

One of the participating singers Wing Yi would perform Stefanzie Sun Yanzi's DARK SKY anew. She said, "This plan gives me the chance to use my own style to interpret songs I like, as well as giving songs of a different eras a new change of clothes and continue to go on."

[2021.01.25] DADA CHAN BEGINS TO ACCEPT MOTHER ROLES

DaDa Chan shows support at Elaine Tang's restaurant opening
courtesy of singtao.com


DaDa Chan complains about the lack of suitors
courtesy of on.cc

courtesy of mingpao.com

Dada Chan Jing yeserday attended a restaurant opening. She said that during the pandemic she took the time to rest and improve herself, learning to cookies and training for her yoga instructor license. She admitted that she has not worked in months and would not make a new movie until next month. She would play a mother who suffered domestic abuse. She said, "I already started to accept having to play the role of Mama. In the film I even have a 7 or 8 year old son." As for her love life, DaDa who has been single for over half a year joked that she had to recruit for a boyfriend. Ultimately she has already reached marriage appropriate age and would like to have children. Unfortnately destiney has not yet arrived.

Friday, January 22, 2021

[2021.01.23] YEUNG PAN PAN PRAISES PHILIP KEUNG FOR HIS LOYALTY DESPITE HIS FAME

    courtesy of singtao.com

courtesy of mingpao.com

Philip Keung Ho Man yesterday spoke to Yeung Pan Pan on her Hong Kong Open Television program. Hak Jai said that his martial art master happened to be Sister Pan Pan's coach. They had quite a history and even worked together on several films. They could say that they grew up together. Sister Pan Pan said that Hak Jai had a good foundation anda lot of experience. She was happy for his career journey progress, even after rising to stardom he remained as loyal as ever. "After I switched to behind the scene work, when I asked Hak Jai to work on a movie, even for just one scene he would help out as soon as I asked. Now he is getting more and more famous, I am afraid that I can't afford to hire him. I have to make my movies even better to be able to." Hak Jai said that he was very loyal and would cherish his relationships with people. He was also happy that earlier at Sister Pan Pan's film festival in Malaysia, he won Best Supporting Actor with SHOCK WAVE -- the first film award in his life.

Hak Jai mentioned that his film SHOCK WAVE 2 is currently in release in the Mainland, Taiwan and other places. The response has been great. The Mainland box office made over 1.1 billion RMB. He was confident that the performance would continue to rise. Unfortunately the Hong Kong release due to the pandemic had to be postponed. He said, "I am a little disappointed, I hope cinemas will be able to open soon. I know many viewers are looking forward to seeing this film. I will go to see it then too. Earlier I was working in Beijing, so I couldn't make the film's Beijing premiere."

[2021.01.23] AARON KWOK LOOKS FORWARD TO THE RETURN OF CINEMA

courtesy of singtao.com

The 45th Hong Kong International Film Festival will take place between April 1st and 12th, 2021. For the first time it will be in a physical and online mixed format in order to bring viewers more perspectives and program exchange new experience. The event yesterday announced that Best Actor Aaron Kwok Fu Sing will be the film festival ambassador for the third year in a row. Famous Hong Kong graphic designer Frank Chan Wa Hung would create the design for this year's creative theme, and famous fashion photographer KAON would shoot an all new promotional photo.

Sing Sing said, "I sincerely look forward to the pandemic being gone as soon as possible, for every business to see the light of day soon. In particular for more movies to start production and cinemas to open again." As for launching the film festival again this year, Sing Sing continued, "I am very honored to be the Hong Kong International Film Festival ambassador again, to do my part to promote film. Due to the pandemic, this year's film festival will be in a phsyical and online mixed format for the firs time. I believe viewers would be very excited about being able to return to cinema. At the same time they would be able to enjoy the film festival's all new experience online, they would feel double the excitement."

Thursday, January 21, 2021

[2021.01.22] ERIC TSANG, WONG CHO NAM RETURN TO TVB AS EXECUTIVES

Yu Wing Shan calls Eric Tsang her mentor
courtesy of singtao.com

Eric Tsang 

Wong Cho Nam prepares to return from the Mainland 

Nat Chan hopes to work with his buddy again

Samantha Ko had a lot of fun on the SUPER TRIO game shows and looks forward to new challenges

Venus Wong looks forward to her father in law's new programs

Chin Ka Lok (left) and Timmy Hung (center) spent a lot of time on SUPER TRIOS 
courtesy of on.cc




Leanne Li and Wong Cho Nam earlier at an event get a photo with AMERICA'S GOT TALENT host Terry Crews

Eric Tsang in the past worked with Jerry Lamb (left) and Chin Ka Lok (right) on countless SUPER TRIOS.  Will he work with them again?

TVB Chairman of the Board Hui To hires Eric Tsang and Wong Cho Nam as TVB executives.  Elaine Lok welcome both on their homecoming.



Amigo Chui 

Steven Ma
courtesy of mingpao.com

Stepping in 2021, a new climate arrives at TVB. TVB board of directors chair Hui To yesterday announced the TVB hiring of Eric Tsang Chi Wai as vice general manager and executive council special consultant, effective immediately. Chi Wai will be fully responsible for variety and information entertainment programs, and shoulder the duties of cultivating and on and off screen television successors for TVB, creating even more employment opportunities for young people and injecting even more youth elements into TVB programming. Wong Cho Nam will serve as the first Creative Officer, assisting Tsang Chi Wai on variety and information entertainment program content business development. Tsang Chi Wai's wide influence and resources in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland film and television caught Hui To's eyes, with his rich experience in both on and off screen production.

Hui To said that TVB, in the face of ever changing technological advances, entertainment and information broadcasting new formats, the Guangdong Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area's new opportunities, and the international new media market that is full of opportunities, needs to continue to elevate its program content quality. It alos needs connections everywhere, to a variety of audience. Talent has always been the key to competition at the television station. In order to reach the aforementioned goals, the group needs to greatly invest in manpower resources, strengthen on and off screen, production management and content creation talent's training and recruitment. Chi Wai will be fully responsible for TVB's variety and information entertainment program, setting variety and information entertainment content strategy, widening variety program markets and channels, deepening the connection and cooperation between film and television industry's on and off screen talent. Chi Wai will also shoulder another important task, responsible for cultivating on and off screen successors for TVB and creating even more employment opporutnities for young people, and injecting even more youth element into TVB programs. Hence Wong Cho Nam has always been invited to serve as the group's first Creative Officer, assisting Tsang Chi Wai on variety and information enteratinment program content's business development. Conceivably the duo will be able to provide new ideas to variety program creation, expand open cooperation with Hong Kong film and television industry, promote Mainland, Greater Bay Area and international Chinese market's business expansion, and strengthen cross platform new media business.

Tsang Chi Wai would return to TVB as the vice general manager and executive counicl special consultant. Chi wai said, "First, I am very honored to receive the trust and the invitation from the TVB executive council and chair Hui To. I can return to this big family of TVB, a place where I grew in televsion, and work with my past colleagues together. I am truly very happy! Even more importantly, TVB next year will step into its 55th anniversary. I really want to continue share past joy with the audience, but I also hope that everyone can march forward hand in hand. At the same time, I also hope that through my year of experience in film and television, with new ideas from the younger and new geneartions to be able to cultivate even more talent, producing even more high quality and variety of programs and bring even more joy to everyone in TVB's traditional spirit of 'giving our all, doing our best'!"

As for the first Creative Officer Wong Cho Nam responded, "Thank you TVB and Chair Hui Tao for the invitation, I am very honored! I look forward to doing my best at this position, to thank TVB and the Hong Kong audience. I really want to thank the Trio Leader (Tsang Chi Wai). From the beginning when I went to work in the Mainland, he gave me a lot of advice. For the past decade I developed very well out there. I hope to be able to open even greater market for TVB's new generation of artists. In recent years I also slowly learned many new digital platform's operation methods, like live broadcast/e-commerce/AR VR variety program production. In the process through working in the Mainland I met top production teams from different places around the world, including Korea, the U.S. and Japan. Their variety program from content creativity to technology are very innovative, so I hope to be able to bring my outside experience over the past few years to TVB, strengthen program creativity and cross platform. In particular TVB's 55th anniversary is on the way, which requres even more seroius thinkin and planning. I hope my return would be able to bring Hong Kong viewers with even more positive energy and innovative entertainment." Cho Nam also pointed out that currenlty he is making preparations and looked forward to seeing his TVB colleagues as soon as possible.

Anita Yuen Wing Yee after learning that Chi Wai would serve as a TVB high level executive joked, "In my mind I can only think of in future award shows, winning artists would all thank Tsang Chi Wai and not just Sister Chun and Ms. Lok, haha!" Reporters asked her to return to TVB as well to make series, then when she would win an award she would be able to thank Tsang Chi Wai? Len Len said, "I would consider making a series, but my mind is full of strange ideas. I really can talk to him about becoming a program host!" Len Len also seriously said that Chi Wai has a lot of experience in this business and helped many artists, he as a TVB high level executive may be able to bring a new vision and enable the television station to bring even more and better programs to everyone! Samantha Ko Hoi Ning said, "I am very happy that Brother Chi Wai has returned to our big family. The Trio Leader will be able to bring a lot of joy and positive energy to the audience!" Nat Chan Pak Cheung who no longer wanted to work hard joked, "I get to work again." Seemingly he has high expectation for his buddy's return to TVB.

Chin Ka Lok said that he received the good news yesterday afternoon and called the Trio Leader personally to congratulate him. He also congratulated Cho Nam on becoming a high level executive as well. Ka Lok said, "Trio Leader Mr. Tsang Chi Wai over the years has brought a lot of joy to everyone. I hope this time he would be able to bring even more new ideas and new programs to everyone, because Hong Kong now needs a lot of positive energy, more joy and entertainment. For the past few years Hong Kong people have suffered. I believed this is a great transformation for TVB, able to inject new idea. I also feel that this is a shot of confidence!" Ka Lok also joked, "Now I am waiting for them to blow the whistle, if they need a hand from me I definitely will help!"

TVB assistant general manager (non drama production) Yu Wing Shan once was rumoted to be at odds with Tsang Chi Wai. Now tha Tsang Chi Wai has become her superior and vice general manager, Yu Wing Shan said, "Chi Wai isn't only my mentor but now also my superior. At work we have room to negotiate, which absolutely is a good thing!" She also denied that she was at odds with Chi Wai.

Making a name for himself in film, Tsang Chi Wai first joined TVB on January 1st, 1992. He created the TVB SUPER TRIO programs and successfully confirmed its variety program leadership position. For the past 30 years he has had numerous close collaborations with TVB and with many on and off screen personnel he created many memorable and classic programs. Chi Wai also spared no effort in promoting industry development, previously and currently serving many important tasks in show business like the Hong Kong Performing Artist Guild president, the Hong Kong Film Award board of directors vice chair. Thus he would be beneficial to promote TVB's further open collaborations with various Hong Kong art scenes and create the future together.

Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts graduate Wong Cho Nam in recent years has been developing in Mainland's social media platform and internet variety programs and e-commerce platforms with great success, as he has bcome familiar with the merger of traditional and technological innovations. After joining the TVB management team he will promote cross platform channel development, merging his Mainland new media experience and greatly increasing TVB's business opportunities in the Mainland and the Greater Bay Area.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

[2021.01.21] BREAKOUT BROTHERS COULD TURN INTO A LUNAR NEW YEAR FILM

courtesy of on.cc

As the novel coronavirus persisted, the Hong Kong cinemas would extend their closure until January 27th. The film release schedule has been chaotic as many blockbusters waited to open. Already opened in the Mainland, movies like SHOCK WAVE 2, BREAK OUT BROTHERS insisted on opening as soon as cinemas would open up again. They could "transform" into Lunar New Year films at any moment!

SHOCK 2's released has been delayed again and again. Its film company Universe's boss Daneil Lam Siu Ming said, "We are helpless due to the pandemic, but whenever cinemas would open the movie would open. Right now cinema would remain close for another week. If they would open up again we would have two weeks before the Lunar New Year, the movie would be out until then."

The same went for BREAKOUT BROTHERS, which also turned its promotional posters into the "Lunar New Year version". Ultimately the release on such a hot schedule would have certain pressure. Producer Edmond Wong Chi Wun however was confident in the film.