Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Million Dollar Baby" producer urges HK film makers to box clever

BEIJING - March 12,2005 -- Hong Kong's ailing film industry has been complacent about its past success and must reinvent itself to regain former glories, Andre Morgan, the producer of Oscar-winning boxing drama "Million Dollar Baby" believes.

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In an interview, the veteran producer, who cut his teeth in the Hong Kong movie industry during its 1970s heyday of Bruce Lee and kung fu, said filmmakers also needed to devise ways to counter challenges from emerging Asian movie-making nations and take advantage of the massive Chinese audience on its doorstep. Morgan blames reduced investment for steadily eroding Hong Kong's dominant market share in Southeast Asia.

Once the world's third largest movie-making centre after Bollywood and Hollywood, the Hong Kong film industry has seen the number of productions dwindle from more than 300 a year in the 1980s to just 64 in 2004, according to the city's Motion Picture Industry Association, while its workforce has shrunk by 80 percent.Yet Morgan believes the business is going through a cycle typical to all industries and expects it to be on the way to recovery soon when Hong Kong's economy picks up.

Fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin, Morgan is no stranger to the Chinese movie scene and has been credited with helping bring kung fu and the legendary Bruce Lee to western audiences. Between 1972 and 1978, Morgan produced 15 to 20 Chinese pictures and says he was the first movie maker to take a Chinese film crew to Australia, the Netherlands, the United States and Nepal.

He has now returned to Hong Kong to team up with leading Hong Kong director Peter Chan to make the first Chinese musical in more than 40 years, "Perhaps Love", set in the glamorous but sleazy Shanghai of the 1930s, and modern-day China. Morgan said China represented the best opportunities for Hong Kong's beleaguered movie industry as filmmakers are offered incentives to shoot there, and a free-trade pact allows for national distribution of local productions.

Source: CRIENGLISH.com. Image from Xinhuanet

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