New York Chinatown Theatres under the Hong Kong Circuit System
Abstract

According to film historian Zhong Baoxian, the Hong Kong film industry in the “Golden Age” of the 1970s and 1980s was dominated by three major theatre chains or circuits, which maintained their regular film supply by setting up their own production companies. As a case study in the international distribution of Hong Kong cinema during this period, this essay examines the business records of the Sun Sing Theatre in New York’s Chinatown, now in the collection of New York’s Museum of Chinese in America. The Sun Sing was not only an exhibition site, but also the headquarters of Gordon’s Film International, a company that distributed films from Hong Kong to theatres in North America in the 1980s. The author argues that the circuit system, which made a soaring industry possible in Hong Kong, has ironically contributed to the demise of the business and entertainment culture of the Chinatown communities in North America.