After hitting a low point in the 2000-2005 era, Hong Kong’s cinemas have made a strong comeback, adding dozens of new screens and introducing new amenities that enhance the movie-going experience.
The factors we took into consideration while creating our ‘Top 5′ list include the size of the screen, the sound system, the seats, the accessibility of the location, ticket availability, and the overall experience.
The top five here are biased towards Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, as we have had less opportunities to attend film screenings in New Territories (though there are several cinemas there we intend to check out!)
Here are our Top 5 favorites:
The Grand Cinema at Elements, West Kowloon – This is THE place to see a big budget action or Sci-Fi movie. From the massive screen and loud sound system (“Shawâ€¦ Theaterâ€¦ Sound”), to the vibrating seats, this place will give you an immersive experience.
Only a few of the twelve screens are large, so pick your theater wisely (Use one of the movie apps, or go online and check the seating charts first.) Because of the size of the theaters, and the number of screens, there is a greater likelihood to get a good seat here.
The only negative of the Grand Cinema is that it can be hard to get to. One easy way to get there from Central is by taking the Tung Chung line from the basement of IFC to Kowloon Station. Elements shopping mall is just above the MTR. Jumping on a cross-harbor bus that goes through the Western tunnel is another option, but it’s still not easy to get to.
The Grand Cinema
Elements Shopping Mall
1 Austin Road West
West Kowloon, Kowloon
MCL JP Cinema, Causeway Bay – The JP is a classic Hong Kong Island cinema. Located in the epicenter of one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhood’s, the JP is surrounded by places to eat and shop, which makes it ideal for a night out.
With two big screens, steep stadium seats, and a strong sound system, even typically bad seats towards the back provide a perfect view.
A negative about the JP is that it can be hard to get tickets on a whim, as it’s located in always-crowded Causeway Bay and very popular. One thing that sets it apart are its late shows, that few cinemas in Hong Kong still offer. A very good choice for any type of film.
22-36 Paterson Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
UA iSquare IMAX – The new iSquare IMAX theatre in Tsim Sha Tsui rocks! It has an absolutely huge screen, great sound, and provides an impressive movie-going experience. The location is excellent and iSquare shopping center is actually directly attached to the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. Tickets might be a little difficult to book due to the popularity of the location, so this is one place you should count on booking in advance. Prices for IMAX films in general are expensive (around $120 HKD for normal IMAX, $150 HKD for 3D,) but it’s worth it for films with top-notch visuals. (An alternative, slightly cheaper IMAX theater is at Megabox in Kowloon Bay.)
7/F, iSquare Shopping Center
63 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Cyberport, Pok Fu Lam – Located sort of in the middle of nowhere, Cyberport is a great place to get a ticket to a movie that’s sold out everywhere else. Rather than sitting way in the back, or all the way on the aisle, at Cyberport you are likely to be able to score a great ticket with less hassle. The cinema has two good-sized screens and one smaller one. Accessibility, however is both an asset and a liability. Getting there by public transportation is very limited, which makes it favored by people who have a car and like to drive.
Shop L1 – 3, Level 1, The Arcade
100 Cyberport Road
Pokfulam, Hong Kong
AMC Pacific Place, Admiralty – Remodeled a few years ago, Pacific Place has several good-sized theaters and comfortable seats. Located in the transport hub of Admiralty, and grounding one end of the Pacific Place mall, its popularity, and convenient location can make it difficult to get a good seat. This is the preferred cinema for most of Sheung Wan through Wanchai, which makes it crowded. (If you’re living towards Chai Wan, there are several screens in Taikoo at Cityplaza, which are somewhat comparable). One additional negative is that ticket prices here seem to be around $15 HKD more expensive.
There are plenty of eating options in the mall for a quick bite before a show, and a few good places to go for a post-movie drink.
AMC Pacific Place
Level 1, Pacific Place
88 Queensway Road
Admiralty, Hong Kong
Golden Harvest Grand Ocean, Tsim Sha Tsui – There are very few movie palaces left in Hong Kong and this is one of them! The old school style theater is massive, with several sections and plush red seats. Though we haven’t visited the Grand Ocean recently, this remains a classic cinema. Most people don’t know about this place, or tend to go to one of the newer theaters in T.S.T., but the experience of viewing a film on a larger-than-life screen is what going to the movies is all about! The Grand Ocean theater is located on the bottom of Canton Road, just a few doors down from Lane Crawford.
Grand Ocean Cinema
3 Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Though not in the top five, the Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei is worth a visit. For over a decade it has been transforming into a sort of cultural hub. In addition to the cinema there’s an excellent cafe and book store, a DVD shop and a library of films. The cinema itself isn’t great, (smallish screens with an aisle running down the center, where the best seats should be!) but the extended facilities and niche films make it worth investigating.
3 Public Square Street
Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
One additional fact to point out – Tuesday’s are reduced-price ticket days at most Hong Kong cinemas. If you’re on the fence about going to see a film, check it out on a Tuesday!
SPECIAL TREAT! Read about the now defunct Hong Kong drive-in movie theater!
O.K. Smartypants, what are YOUR top 5 cinemas? Let us know in the comments!