Hong Kong cinemas are slashing ticket prices for the second time this year after a disappointing summer in which box office takings slumped by 36%

The Hong Kong Theatres Association announced that 51 of HongKong's 60 cinemas will cut admission prices to $3.20 (HK$25) every Tuesday and Wednesday for the next eight weeks. Tickets usually cost$6-$9 (HK$50-HK$70). US-owned AMC is the only major exhibitor not participatingin the scheme.

Two of Hong Kong largest circuits - UA and Broadway Cinemas - ran a similar promotion in March this year and reported a 200% increase inadmissions Over a three-week period. However customers were charged full pricefor many popular films when the scheme ran into opposition from distributors.

The latest promotion follows a summer in which piracy,record levels of unemployment and declining production levels have resulted ina dramatic decline in box office receipts. According toindustry association, the MPIA, takings for July and August totaled $22.6m(HK$176m), a 36% decrease from the same period last year. Domestic productionsgrossed only $8m (HK$63m), down 52% on July and August 2001 when local hits ShaolinSoccer and Love On A Diet were both released.

Hit by Hong Kong's weak economy and declining investorconfidence, several local studios have scaled back production activity thisyear. MPIA

Chief executive Woody Tsung predicts that Hong Kong isunlikely to produce more than 70 films in 2002, a steep decline on the 133films produced in 2001.

China Star Entertainment produced both of the summer'sbiggest hits My Left Eye Sees Ghosts which grossed $2.7m after fiveweeks and Mighty Baby which has grossed $2.3m after two weeks. Thecompany is currently planning a rights issue to raise more funds forproduction.