iSee State Theatre

Hong Kong's only remaining typical post-war cinema

A world-class theatre

State Theatre was the brainchild of Harry Oscar Odell, a Jewish film distributor, who saw a business opportunity in the lack of performing venues in Hong Kong after the war. He built a world-class theatre in North Point to bring international performers to town. First known as Empire Theatre, this was the first venue to show Western films and also a popular venue for classical concerts and musicals. Its fame reached wide audiences, even once bringing 17-year-old Teresa Teng to perform with the Taiwan Kaisheng Comprehensive Art Troupe; a big milestone in Hong Kong’s cultural and entertainment scene.

The fate of State Theatre

When it was renamed State Theatre in 1959, the focus shifted to more local Hong Kong films and performances. In the 1960s as more fancy venues popped up in other districts, its popularity dwindled. In 1997 the theatre stopped operating and the space was taken by a bargain billiard club. Slowly left to deteriorate, plans were made to demolish the theatre and build a high-rise commercial centre. But a heritage concern group campaigned for the preservation of the building and developer New World is giving the building a new lease of life.

What’s so unique?

The exposed arch-shaped concrete roof structure that carries the weight of the whole roof has been hailed “the only one in the world” by DOCOMOMO. Another eye-catching feature is the Chinese painting at the entrance titled, “Cicadidae and Dong Zhuo” by local artist Mei Yutian. His combination of Eastern and Western themes was bold and daring in those post-war days.

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