World Theatre

199 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan,
Hong Kong

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The World Theatre was situated in Sheung Wan on the Hong Kong Island.
The theatre which opened to business on 14th July, 1921, was built on the site of the former Imports and Exports Office, and designed by Messrs Little, Adams and Wood.

An article published by The Hong Kong Daily Press on 15th July, 1921 had a concise description of the theatre:"Modelled on the lines of the London Palladium the new theatre is a capacious building and a great deal of careful thought has been expended in the direction of making it as comfortable and as cool as is humanely reasonable and possible in the depth of a Hong Kong summer. It is well equipped with electric fans-there are 63 of them all together-and the lighting and fire appliances are of the latest. There is seating accommodation for about 900 people, 300 in the dress circle and 600 in the stalls, and the seats are so arranged that everyone has a good view of the screen. The stage is an adaptable one big enough to accommodate a vaudeville performance and shortly it will be furnished with special scenery which
is being painted by a local artist. One feature of the building which adds considerably to its convenience is the large number of exits that have been provided-the whole building can be cleared in the space of a few moments."

The theatre claimed to be " Hong Kong’s most modern and coolest picture palace", and
emphasized " entirely under British management" in its advertisements.
Some of the silent films shown at the theatre had either interpreters or music accompaniment.

The theatre building was long and narrow and parallel to the Des Voeux Road Central. The auditorium was on the ground floor of the theatre building.
The theatre was managed by the Hong Kong Amusements Ltd. during its early years, and closed on 24th July, 1935 due to poor business.

The Hong Kong Government took over the theatre building in 1936, and the theatre re-opened in the same year under a new management. The theatre closed after the outbreak of war on 8th December, 1941, and re-opened in 1942. During the war years, only films censored by the Japanese Armies could be shown at the theatre. The theatre closed its doors on 20th August, 1944 after the suspension of electricity supply, and re-opened on 16th October, 1944 after the electricity supply had resumed. On 6th January, 1947, there was an explosion in the auditorium.

The World Theatre closed on 1st February, 1955, and re-opened on 1st November, 1956.
Air-conditioners were installed in 1960.
On 9th June,1969, the theatre closed its doors, and re-opened on 8th January, 1971 under a new Chinese name. The theatre finally closed on 1st September, 1981 with a Chinese film.

A commercial building was built on the site of the theatre and the adjacent Marine Department building.

Contributed by Raymond Lo

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Suwanti on August 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

Its Chinese name is æ—-°ä¸—-界戲院 and 恆星戲院.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Thanks Raymond for a good read.

hhpy on November 26, 2010 at 5:22 am

the building on the right hand side of this photo could be World in an very early time.
View link

Suwanti on May 29, 2011 at 1:37 am

The photograph is wrong.

Suwantii on September 1, 2017 at 4:15 am

Chinese name 新世界戲院 and 恆星戲院.

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