State Theatre

King's Road,
Hong Kong

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Empire Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Empire Theatre was the first deluxe theatre to be built in the newly developed North Point neighbourhood on Hong Kong Island. It opened on 11th December 1952, with Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman in “Just for You”.

The theatre was managed by Harry Odell’s Commonwealth Enterprise Corp.Ltd.

According to its opening advertisement, the theatre had a free underground car park for the patrons.

The theatre building had a restaurant and a billiards house, and the auditorium was on the first floor. It had a tringular shaped stage for stage performance. Due to the lack of a proper concert hall in Hong Kong in the 1950’s, the theatre was an alternative venue for recitals by visiting soloists.

It showed first and re-run English language films in its first three years. In 1956, Mandarin language films were shown. In its final year, it showed re-run English language films.

The Empire Theatre closed on 2nd September 1957.

A residential block was built on the adjacent site, and the theatre building became its annex.

The renamed State Theatre opened to business after extensive renovations on 8th February 1959 with a re-run movie “Pal Joey”.

An advertisement for the new theatre boasted of:

“New Westrex sound and projection equipment;

56 foot wide ‘giant’ screen;

New air-conditioning plant-York;

American ‘Bodiform’ chairs spaciously installed;

Luxuriously furnished and air-conditioned foyer for loge seat patrons;

Lift service to dress circle".

The spacious lobby on the ground floor of the former Empire Theatre was converted into shops with only a small part remained. The lobby of the State Theatre was connected with the shopping mall in the adjacent residential building. The underground car park was not mentioned and I assume that it was closed.

In its first year, re-run English language and first run Mandarin language films were shown. In the 1960’s, it showed first run English language films. From the early-1970’s until its closure on 1st March 1997, Mandarin language and Cantonese language films were shown. Its final film was Jackie Chan in “Mr. Nice Guy”.

Cantonese operas were also always performed at the theatre. It was a favourite venue for Mandarin vaudeville shows in the early-1970’s.

In the remaining years before its closure, the apparatus and service of the theatre deteriorated rapidly.

Nowadays, the auditorium has been converted into a billiards hall, and the facade of the theatre building is covered by huge bill-boards.

Contributed by Raymond Lo

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

hhpy
hhpy on May 7, 2010 at 3:06 am

a very old picture when State was still Empire:
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hhpy
hhpy on November 26, 2010 at 3:34 am

The history of State Theatre was amazing. My memory can only be traced back to the early 80s when State, together with Queen’s in Central and Tai Ping in Western District, was under Golden Harvest Circuit. It seems that GH had many of the important cinemas in Hong Kong at the time.

Suwanti
Suwanti on May 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Its Chinese name is 璇宮戲院 and 皇都戲院。

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