Golden Harvest is a film production, distribution, and exhibition company based in Hong Kong. It played a major role in becoming the first Chinese film company to successfully enter the western market with staying power. At the same time, it dominated HK box office sales from the 1970s to 1980s.
Golden Harvest ceased producing films in 2003.
Notable names in the company include its founders, the veteran film producers Raymond Chow
(鄒文懐) and Leonard Ho Koon Cheung
(何冠昌). Chow and Ho were executives with Hong Kong's top studio, Shaw Brothers
, but left in 1970 to form their own studio. They succeeded by taking a different approach from the highly centralized Shaws model. Golden Harvest contracted with independent producers and gave talent more generous pay and greater creative freedom. Some filmmakers and actors from Shaws defected. But what really put the company on the map was a 1971 deal with soon-to-be martial arts
superstar Bruce Lee
, after he had turned down the low-paying, standard contract offered him by the Shaws.
In 1973, Golden Harvest entered into a pioneering co-production with Hollywood for the English-language Lee film Enter the Dragon (龍爭虎鬥), a worldwide hit made with the Warner Brothers studio.
Golden Harvest supplanted Shaw Brothers as Hong Kong's dominant studio by the end of the '70s and retained that position into the '90s. Its greatest asset for years was that from the 1980s until very recently, it produced almost all of the films of Jackie Chan, Asia's top box office star. Golden Harvest has also produced a number of films for Jet Li and Donnie Yen.
The Company was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1994. Li Ka-shing and EMI became shareholder of the company in 2004.
Golden Harvest's activity has declined in recent years. In 2003, they withdrew from film-making to concentrate on film financing, distribution and cinema management in Hong Kong and in Mainland China.
It has cinemas not only in Hong Kong, but in Mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. Most of these are joint ventures. Golden Village is a joint venture with Village Roadshow and there is a Gold Class cinema and Asia's first multiplex. In Malaysia, the group has two brands. One is Golden Screen a joint venture with Malaysia's PPB group. The other is TGV Cinemas (formerly Tanjong Golden Village), which is a joint venture between Tanjong plc and GEMS of Malaysia. It has recently acquired Warner Village in Taiwan.
Golden Harvest Cinemas in Hong Kong
- Bordwell, David. Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-674-00214-8
- Teo, Stephen. Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions. London: British Film Institute, 1997. ISBN 0-85170-514-6
- Yang, Jeff. Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to Hong Kong, Taiwanese, and Mainland Chinese Cinema. New York: Atria, 2003. ISBN 0-7434-4817-0