Shaw Studios appear closer to being torn down for redevelopment

September 16, 2015 19:19
Piles of movie reels, scripts and filming equipment lie neglected and scattered in a warehouse at Shaw Studios, which was once the cradle of Hong Kong's film industry. Photos: HKEJ, Ming Pao

Shaw Brothers Studios in Clear Water Bay could face demolition as only one of the buildings in the former movie studio lot has been classified as a Grade One historical structure by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO).

The AMO is set to discuss whether a revision of historical building grades will be carried out on the site.

Its fate of being torn down for development could only change if the rest of the buildings within the studio are classified as Grade One historical buildings, Headline Daily reported.

Shaw Studios, the world's largest private studio when it opened in 1961, had been the seat of the late tycoon Sir Run Run Shaw's entertainment empire.

It symbolized the golden age of Hong Kong's film industry and was often being referred to as the Hollywood in the East.

But now it lies unattended and poorly maintained. Pictures shared by some netizens show piles of movie reels, scripts and filming equipment scattered around in the warehouse as garbage.

Movie reels of the some of the blockbusters of the old time, such as “The Killer Snakes” which was released in 1974 and starred Kam Kwok-leung, could be seen covered by a thick layer of dust.

Heritage conservationist Yuen Chi-yan said it is a pity that objects and equipment within the Shaw Brothers Studios are being treated as rubbish.

He slammed the AMO for leaning towards the current owner of the property, Fosun International (0656.HK), by not assigning an overall historical building grading to the studio, but instead giving each building an individual grade.

Yuen fears the owner will simply tear down the buildings for redevelopment.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said Celestial Pictures, which owns the rights of all of Shaw Studios’ movies, has donated the original films, sound tracks, trailers, posters and other materials of some 700-plus movies to the Hong Kong Film Archive between 2006 and 2009.

Celestial Pictures said in reply to media query that it has purchased the rights of 760 Shaw movies for DVD and VCD production for over HK$100 million. The company said some of the trashed items at the Shaw Brothers Studio are duplicates of little value.

The Development Bureau, meanwhile, said that it has been in regular dialogue with the owner of the studio and that the two sides have exchanged opinions regarding conservation of the site.

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