Golden Harvest Film Studio – Diamond Hill
Golden Harvest/Golden Studios was founded in 1970. When the Cathay Organisation withdrew from film production in HK, Golden Harvest took over their old studios at 8 King Tung Street, Hammer Hill Road, Diamond Hill. The studio was later used to make films by independent companies set up by artistes who then struck a deal with GH for funding, distribution etc. These included Golden Way, Bo Ho Films and Hui’s Film. In the late 1970s the studio was was occasionally rented out to other film companies.
Philip Edward Kenny writes about the above aerial photo: The studio lot is the triangular area in the top right. I’ve oriented the photo so that east is at the top, it makes viewing easier I feel, but in reality remember that really the picture should be rotated 90 degrees to the right. The lot was demarcated by hills to the top and right (east and south) and a stream to the left (north) and the point where the stream meets the road is where the studio’s front gateway was.
Phil has considerably more information on his excellent blog.
He adds, It’s worth pointing out that under the banner of “film studios” is a plethora of companies involved in various stages of film making. Some companies were just monetary vehicles that provided funding, some provided post-production facilities, a small number actually had studio space, some were only involved in distribution and some did everything, like Golden Harvest and Shaws.
You’ll find the number of film companies increased massively in the 1970’s when Golden Harvest set up operations. The studio system was based on the US one in that GH would provide funding, equipment, space, post production facilities and distribution for the smaller independent companies set up by the various artistes. As a result the film makers enjoyed more freedom and a greater share of the profits and it meant GH were behind hundreds of films throughout the 70’s and 80’s.
The above, undated, oblique photo is one of a set which show the studio in Diamond Hill, a film set, Jackie Chan and others. See Source 2 below.
Notable names in the company include its founders, the veteran film producers Raymond Chow (鄒文懐) and Leonard Ho (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 superstar with the filmThe Big Boss, 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 Hollywoodfor the English-language Lee film Enter the Dragon (龍爭虎鬥), a worldwide hit made with the Warner Brothers studio and Concord Production Inc.
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. Golden Harvest has also produced a number of films with Jet Li and Donnie Yen.
The Company was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1994.
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. .
In 2004, Li Ka-shing and EMI became shareholders of the company.
In 2007, Raymond Chow sold the company to Chinese businessman Wu Kebo, who owns the China-based Orange Sky Entertainment Group. In early 2009, Golden Harvest merged with Orange Sky and was renamed Orange Sky Golden Harvest (橙天嘉禾娛樂集團有限公司).
In 2009, Golden Harvest announced their relaunch and previewed a new trailer set for movies in 2010. (3)
This article was first posted on 11th September 2015.
- Hongkong and Macau stuff.blogspot Golden Studios – then and now. Philip Edward Kenny’s absorbing website
- hongkongmovietours.blogspot.hk – Golden Harvest studios A small photo collection of the demolished Golden Harvest Studios on the blog of Andi of Leipzig, Germany
- wikipedia – Golden Harvest
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I would like to use my network to make a movie called A Bronx Fight starring me Matthew R Jordan as Billy Lo. Also have a Ice House fight with one of the boss.
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What was the difference or division between Golden Harvest and Paragon Films Limited was? Was Paragon Films a division of Golden Harvest? An independent company? Or something else?
I don’t know the amswer to your question about Golden Harvest and Paragon. I asked Philip Edward Kenny who runs the HK Film blog
He sent this reply: I’ve heard of Paragon but don’t know who was behind it. Their existence on the HK company register (incorporated 1972, dissolved 1989) conflicts with the various film sites I use that show it as operating well after its dissolution year…but this is HK so who knows what corporate shenanigans were going on.
From what I can gather it was just one of the many independent production companies in HK operating in the same way as other production companies. Golden Harvest provided funding, studio facilities and distribution (local and overseas) for a film but the individual production company (Paragon) would be the company involved in the actual movie making process.
Hope this helps.
Thank you Hugh, for replying.
The weird thing about Paragon is personally I’ve seen little that actually separates it from Golden Harvest. Just two things really the company name and specific roles on movies, movies that ultimately have Golden Harvest involvement.
I thought I’d mention that, I found text on a poster for the movie H-Bomb (1971) that reads:
‘PRESENTED BY PARAGON FILMS LTD.
A GOLDEN HARVEST GROUP COMPANY’.
I assume this more or less confirms Golden Harvest owned and/or controlled Paragon?
On a side note while trying to research about Paragon, I came across ‘Artpic Company Limited’ which may have a connection to Golden Harvest and Armour of God though it’s probably not that important.
Without knowing who was behind it, it’s hard to say. Creating a ltd company in HK is very straightforward and is a common way for people to do business. Profits made by a ltd company can be paid as non-taxable dividends which is why so many people use them. This is why everyone set up their own companies to do deals with GH, it was just more tax efficient.
Perhaps Paragon was a joint operation between Raymond (or one of the other GH execs) with a specific person/group of people? Or maybe it was set up to do business in a certain region? Or it may just have been one of the many production companies who had distribution/funding deals with GH that informally fell under the GH banner without there being any specific share holding by anyone in GH? Or maybe it was a GH subsidiary? Without seeing the corporate structure in detail it’s hard to know.
Finding out company information in HK right now is a minefield. Ltd companies are used to hide all manner of goings on and HK has always been the place where “certain people” can get money out of “certain countries” and funnel it into property. The govt has cracked down on access under the premise of “personal data protection” but actually the real reason is that lots of high profile people were getting outed with their shady dealings (thin panama papers etc).