Yau Ma Tei Theatre

6 Waterloo Road,
Hong Kong

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Additional Info

Functions: Opera House

Styles: Art Deco, Neo-Classical

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Yau Ma Tei Theatre

The Yau Ma Tei Theatre is the only pre-World War II theatre building remaining in Hong Kong. It is situated in the Yaumati district on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. The theatre opened to business on 14th June, 1930 with 980 seats. For the first year of operation it operated as a silent cinema. It screened its first sound film on 15th June 1931, a Chinese film “A Mysterious Murder”. Before the outbreak of war on 8th December, 1941, it showed Chinese dialect and selected English language films.

During the war years, only films censored by the Japanese Army could be shown. After the suspension of electricity on 20th August, 1944, the theatre closed its doors.

The Yau Ma Tei Theatre reopened after the end of World War II on 21st November 1945 with the Hong Kong film “The Fantastic Knight, which was made in 1940. In the 1950’s, the theatre was managed by Shaw and Sons Limited. It was a neighbourhood cinema, and showed first run Chinese dialect and selected English films until 1987. From 1988 until its closure on 31th July, 1998, it showed pornographic films.

The Yau Ma Tei Theatre was classified as a ‘Grade II Building’ by the Hong Kong Government. From a press release issued by the Government on 18th April, 2007: “The government is planning to convert the former Yau Ma Tei Theatre into a Cantonese opera centre, and the project concerned is expected to commence in 2008 for completion in 2012”. The Yau Ma Tei theatre re-opened on 17th July 2012, now with a reduced seating capacity for 300.

Contributed by Raymond Lo

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

hhpy on June 1, 2011 at 3:44 am

corrected now… it took me minutes to drive Google earth from Kowloon Tong to Yaumati.

Suwanti on August 22, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Chinese name:油麻地戲院.

Suwanti on October 26, 2011 at 1:54 am

According to one source, the theatre will be re-opened in 2012 after extensive renovation as a Cantonese opera theatre.

Suwanti on April 17, 2012 at 3:30 am

The renovation of the theatre has been completed and will be officially opened in July, 2012 as a Cantonese opera theatre.

Suwanti on April 22, 2012 at 2:27 am

According to an article published by the Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao on 22nd April,2012, the exact opening date of the theatre should be 21st June,1930.

hhpy on April 27, 2012 at 4:34 am

Just found a document for the theatre during the renovation project. http://www.amo.gov.hk/form/YMTT_RBB_HIA%20Report.pdf

For those who are not familiar with Hong Kong, this is a great reading, not only about the history of this cinema but also some background about the culture of the city. Fascinating.

Suwanti on July 18, 2012 at 2:16 am

After extensive renovation, the theatre officially re-opened on 17th July, 2012 as a Cantonese opera live theatre.

Suwanti on December 19, 2012 at 3:22 am

The renovated 300-seat Yau Ma Tei Theatre has a stage with computerized lighting system,audio system,motorized flying system and subtitle system.

gc on June 23, 2013 at 8:38 pm

According to Chinese newspapers Sing Dao Daily 星島日報 and The Kung Sheung Daily News 工商日報. After the Second World War, the reopen day of Yau Ma Tei Theatre was on 21-November-1946 (Thursday) show time: 2:30pm,7:30pm,9:30pm

Suwanti on December 21, 2013 at 9:53 pm

The first film shown at the theatre was Fine Manners.

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