Raymond Chow

Executive producer Raymond Chow was born in Hong Kong. At age thirteen he entered St. John's University, graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a major in Journalism.

Returning to Hong Kong, Chow began his professional life as a reporter for one of the city's English language newspapers, The Hong Kong Standard. In 1951 he joined the Voice of America office in Hong Kong.

In 1959 the Shaw Brothers film studio was expanding it’s activities in Hong Kong, and Chow saw an opportunity to join the film industry. He was initially employed as publicity manager, but was soon made head of production—a position he held for the next ten years.

Television was having a drastic effect on the film industry worldwide in the 60’s, especially in the United States. The major studios were heavily cutting back on production. Rather that follow suit, Chow reasoned that this was an opportunity to increase production of Chinese pictures, which would benefit from the shortage of product that would inevitably follow the cutbacks.

Staking the future on his convictions, he resigned and set up Golden Harvest in 1970. The new company produced eight features in it’s first year of operation. Raymond Chow quickly developed the company’s distribution activities in Hong Kong and throughout Asia.
With a strong regional base firmly established, Chow was ready to increase production to the level of twelve to fourteen pictures a year. But increased production required full-time access to studio facilities. To this end, with the aid of the Cathay Organization, Golden Harvest took over the Hammer Hill production complex, which is still the home base for the Golden Harvest Group.

Among the first Golden Harvest pictures to be produced from the new studios was The Big Boss, which launched the producer?s highly successful association with Bruce Lee. Apart from the huge local and regional success of the Bruce Lee films, they were significant in that they introduced Hong Kong productions and a new film genre to general audiences all over the world. Variety listed Enter The Dragon among the top fifty box office successes of all time.

Against this backdrop, Chow set about developing his film distribution operation on a worldwide scale while increasing the number of films produced specifically for this new international market.
Before the close of the group’s first ten years, Chow had made eight such films including Amsterdam Kill, starring Robert Mitchum, and The Boys in Company C, directed by Sidney J. Furie.

In 1980, the company celebrated ten years of operation with the opening of The Cannonball Run to record breaking business across the United States. Among the host of major stars heading the cast were Burt Reynolds, Roger More, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Fonda and Bianca Jagger, along with Hong Kong’s Jackie Chan and Michael Hui.

The Cannonball Run went on to accumulate a worldwide box office of over $160 million, but not before the National Association of Theatre Owners helped to make it a truly “golden year” for Chow by naming him the first recipient of the newly created International Showman of the Year Award in recognition of his contribution to the American motion picture industry. The same year the Prime Minister of Taiwan awarded Chow the Golden Horse Award as most outstanding international producer.

All this expansion into U.S. and international markets in no way meant that local and regional audiences were being ignored. Golden Harvest?s films with Michael Hui were the vanguard of the re-introduction of Hong Kong films into the vast Japanese market. Those of Jackie Chan, Samo Hung and others followed, their popularity eclipsing top stars from the United States.

Almost exactly ten years after the landmark success of The Cannonball Run, Chow greenlit a project that would go on to become the most successful independent film ever made: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That film and it?s two sequels marked the beginning of Golden Harvest?s association with New Line Cinema.

Despite the enormous success of Golden Harvest, Chow shuns the extravagant lifestyle often associated with movie moguls. What little time his workload permits for private life, Chow prefers to spend it with his wife, Felicia, son Felix and daughter Roberta. Any spare time he has is likely to be devoted to a round of golf with friends. He was honored with the order of the British Empire in 1987.