Hong Kong productions reversed their downward slide at the local box office in 2003, grossing $47m (HK$366) as of December 14, up 11.6% from the same period last year, according to industry body, the Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA).

In addition, Hong Kong-produced films accounted for 46.7% of this year's total box office, up from 40% the previous year. However, the number of Hong Kong films released as of December 14 stood at only 77, compared to 92 in 2002 and 133 in 2001.

Six of the 10 top grossing films were Hong Kong productions, including The Twins Effect that took the second place with $3.7m (HK$28.4m) and Running on Karma that came in fifth with $3.4m.

Of the 176 foreign productions released, only four managed to crack the top 10, including Finding Nemo, The Matrix Reloaded, The Two Towers and Catch Me If You Can. Most notable was Finding Nemo which emerged as the overall highest grossing film, scoring $4m between 17 July and 14 September. But the foreign box office receipts were down by 14% to $53.9m.

Despite the local box office success, total box office receipts slumped by 4% to $101m compared to $111m and $134m for the full year of 2002 and 2001 respectively.

MPIA chairman Crucindo Hung expects the Hong Kong box office to receive a year-end boost as several blockbusters are scheduled for release over Christmas period. These include The Return of the King, Subway (which stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai), Anna in Kung Fu Land (which stars Ekin Cheng), Infernal Affairs III, and Golden Chicken 2.

The prequel to Infernal Affairs, Infernal Affairs II was a box office hit that came in seventh this year, raking in $3.2m while the first Infernal Affairs was the top grossing film in 2002.