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Archive for May, 2007

The Golden Rock song of the day - 5/30/07

Today’s song of the day may be Hong Kong legendary rock band Beyond’s most rebellious song, though you probably can’t tell that from their fashion and smile-filled introduction. You don’t even have to know Chinese to know they’re angry - the last lines of the chorus is “We don’t need you anymore/go to hell!” Most recently found on one of their many compilation discs, it’s “Can’t Be Forever.”

The Golden Rock song of the day - 5/29/07

The idea for today’s song comes from Miss Japan’s victory at the Miss Universe contest. It’s the perfect time to use the boy group SMAP to tell all Japanese women that they’re beautiful (well, at least all the women that passed the audition). I agree with them too. From their latest album Pop Up! Smap, it’s “Dear Woman.”


SMAP:Dear WOMAN
Uploaded by DIABOLOS777

And what better way to remind them that than a shampoo commercial? The text says “The women of Japan are beautiful.”

Just look at those perfect heads of….hair.

The Golden Rock - May 29th, 2007 Edition

Before we get into the more controversial stuff, let’s follow our usual order:

- This is why you want more than one source for box office news. Variety Asia and the Japanese press have been reporting that Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End actually beat the opening weekend record in Japan set by the second Harry Potter movie. Opening on Thursday night, Pirates made 1.9 billion yen in three-and-a-half days. In fact, according to Eiga Consultant, its Saturday and Sunday gross of 1.47 billion yen is 148% of Dead Man’s Chest’s opening Saturday-Sunday gross (the previous Pirates movie). Then why does Box Office Mojo writes it as a disappointment?

Last year, the opening gross of Dead Man’s Chest is marked as US$16.6 million at the exchange rate of US$1=116.172 yen. However, Mojo wasn’t able to take in the fact that Dead Man’s Chest actually had weekend previews the previous week. Buena Vista probably calculated it all into the opening weekend gross to rig the numbers, or Mojo didn’t know about the screenings and just put whatever it made total as its total two-day gross. This week, At World’s End made about US$12 million in 2 days at the exchange rate of US$1=121.839 yen, with a total US$15.9 million. So not only did Mojo not know about the preview screenings for Dead Man’s Chest, it also failed to account the changing exchange rate, which shows At World’s End made more in yen in its first 3 days than Dead Man’s Chest in its first 2 days PLUS 3 days of weekend previews, which accounted for 0.94 billion yen, or at the exchange rate at the time, 8.09 million of Mojo’s reported 2-day gross.

OK, it all seems a little complicated, so here’s a summary: At World’s End made more money, despite Mojo’s one-sentence opinion that it disappointed because it forgot changing exchange rate and the lack of weekend previews.

Elsewhere on the rest of the Japanese box office top 10, seems like Kitaro drew more audiences, but For Those We Love made more money because of the adult audience it attracts. Same thing for Pacchigi - Love and Peace, which may be pulling in an older audience (senior tickets are cheaper as well) than Stranger Than Fiction. Spiderman 3 will probably pass Spiderman 2’s gross in Japan, but will not likely hit the 10 billion yen mark that Sony was hoping for. Everything else except for Bizan is seeing over-30% drops simply because there’s not enough screens to go around in Japan. This week’s strongest Japanese film opening is Shaberedomo Shaberedomo, a drama about Japanese comedians that opened with 39.7 million yen on just 98 screens. This looks like one of those movies with staying power anyway.

- In Korea, Jeon Do-Yeon’s best actress win at Cannes, the second ever for an Asian actress, for Secret Sunshine seems to be having a significant impact on its box office, with online ticket sales increasing to 31.6% of overall sales. Then again, this type of character-driven films probably depends more on word-of-mouth in the long run anyway.

- Everyone in Japan probably already know by now that Miss Japan is the new Miss Universe. In fact, two of the five finalists are from Asia (with two from South American, and Miss USA rounding out the rest). Asia represent!

Too bad that more people decided to tune into a rerun of a Charlie Sheen sitcom instead. And it’s even sadder that the ratings for amateur filmmaking reality show On the Lot continues to show that most people just don’t care about filmmaking. It’s like going to see a doctor and not care about how the doctor is going to fix you.

- With Spiderman 3 and Harry Potter holding their world premieres in Japan, Hollywood is taking Japan more seriously than ever, at least in promotion.

- r@sardonicsmile writes a rave for Japanese music film Custom Made 10.30, starring Kaela Kimura and Tamio Okuda. As a fan, she also introduces Okuda’s music in the post.

- I saw Batman Begins on IMAX, which was quite an experience, even though it was my second time watching the movie. What was that for, you ask? Christopher Nolan is now filming the sequel The Dark Knight, and he’s actually filming four sequences with IMAX cameras, instead of just letting them convert it from 35mm.

- EastSouthWestNorth is fuming at the further hypocrisy of the Hong Kong Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority. First the government prosecuted a man for just hyperlinking to some pornographic images on a Hong Kong forum. Except if you look at the board in question, you have people posting supposed pictures of their girlfriends and their wives with no constraint or morals involved. Meanwhile, you have the TELA going after inMediaHK for posting an artistic photograph with nudity that was already widely available on Flickr. The point is, with an entire forum of this crap, with even a warning on it, why did they even prosecute just one person?

By the way, link to forums in the EastSouthWestNorth is NOT work-safe, and not for anyone under 18 years old. There, just covering my own ass before I get arrested and extradited back to Hong Kong too.

- In what might also be considered an outrage to some, a Michael Bay movie is actually going to premiere at a film festival. Who knew?

- Korea Pop Wars has more posters for Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird, cheesy English tag lines and all.

- Stephen Fung’s Enter the Phoenix has been sold to be remade in Hollywood. I shuddered when the producer says “this movie should be remade for a bigger, broader audience.” Can you say bad gay jokes all around? Then again, the original has a kid smiling after a thermometer goes up his anus, it can’t really get any broader than that.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 5/28/07

With the death of Zard lead/only singer Izumi Sakai, The Golden Rock feels it’s only appropriate to choose a Zard song for today’s Song of the Day. However, since I don’t know much Zard songs, picking this song from its title seems like a natural choice. From the album “Forever,” it’s the title song “Forever.”

The Golden Rock - May 28th, 2007 Edition


As I wrote yesterday, I revisited the Iwo Jima saga by Clint Eastwood for Memorial Day in the United States. But except for my point that one should watch Letters From Iwo Jima before Flags of Our Fathers, I couldn’t write anything beyond that.

Anyway, my reasoning for the reverse order is simple chronological order: Letters takes place before and over the course of the battle of Iwo Jima, and at least half of Flags takes place after the battle. Since one is likely to suffer battle fatigue by the end of Letters, the fragmentary nature of Flags (which shows the battle using flashback moments) would work more effectively. In fact, if one looks closely, the scene transitions towards the end of Letters is similar to the first half an hour or so of Flags. Beyond those sections, Eastwood doesn’t use the fade-out approach as often, almost as if he wanted both films to work as one. Either way, even though Eastwood’s work doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, I think it’s still a monumental achievement, and it will hopefully be seen as that down the line.

- Feeling a little deja vu again, as I’m reporting another huge worldwide weekend for another huge blockbuster sequel. That’s right, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End has broken a few records around the world at some of the places that this blog covers. Starting in North America, Pirates broke the Memorial Day weekend record set by X3: The Last Stand (another 3rd edition of a blockbuster franchise).

According to a link at Korea Pop Wars, it also broke the global 6-day opening record set by Spiderman 3 (just read that complicated explanation to see how it works), even though it didn’t win the 3-day weekend record. But it didn’t break the best opening weekend record in Korea set by The Host, taking in 2.71 million admissions since it opened on Wednesday on a crazy 900 screens. Oh, Secret Sunshine had a pretty good opening too, plus a Japanese film crossed the 100,000 admission mark. Go read all about it.

- Back in the beginning of the month, Spiderman 3 made HK$28.6 after 6 days on over 120 screens in Hong Kong. It might not have beaten its opening day record (and in fairness, both films opened on public holidays), but Pirates might its pace by making HK$20.33 million after 4 days, including HK$4.62 million from 121 screens on Sunday alone. We’ll know by Wednesday when the 6-day gross comes out, but with 8.3 million to go in 2 days, the best Pirates can do seems to be matching Spidey, not beating it. Of course, note that Pirates tickets in HK cost HK$5 more than Spiderman 3, so if the same amount of people go watch it, then its gross would naturally be higher than Spiderman.

(reference: US$1=HK$7.8)

- In Japan, Pirates ruled at number 1, as expected. But all I gots right now is the ranking (that’s an intentional mistake, by the way, unlike the many typos I make in this blog), so more number crunching tomorrow.

- Very sad news also coming from Japan. Izumi Sakai, the lead singer of the pop group Zard passed away yesterday after an accidental fall. She was 40 years old.

- In Japanese drama ratings, We see Operation Love climbing from a 16.9 to 17.4, solidifying its status as this season’s top drama. Sadly, Joudan Janai went further down from a 11.7 to a season low of 10.7. Sexy Voice and Robo saw its 2nd episode replayed because its 7th episode is too close for comfort after a police-involved shooting last week, and the rerun got only a 6.0 rating. Aya Ueto’s Hotelier (based on the Korean drama) is seeing an up trend with a 9.3 this week, same as Liar Game, which has seen its ratings go up for a 4th week with 12.0 rating.

All Japanese drama information here.

- After its win at the Cannes Film Festival, Variety finally has a review of Naomi Kawase’s The Mourning Forest. Reviewer Russell Edwards says its ambitions are undercut by conveniently underarticulated affections, and won’t reach far beyond festivals and European arthouse audiences.

Meanwhile, Jason Gray updated his previous about with a few more words about the film and its upcoming limited release in Japan.

Eiga Consultant questions its commercial prospects. While The Mourning Forest is set for a 5-screen limited release nationwide, its success in Cannes may push it to become a small indie success like “The Seagull Diner.” However, it’s also going to be broadcast on the pay satellite channel for NHK in HD on May 29th, 3 weeks before its theatrical release.

- James Maruyama provides a review for the independent Japanese film “I am Nipponjin,” about a Japanese-American girl finding out the ways of her culture. Apparently, it’s better than it sounds.

- r@sardonicsmile has a look at the Hong Kong band scene, which include a clip of the documentary on my favorite HK rap group LMF. However, if you’re in a Cantonese-speaking work environment, the language is not work-safe.

- Jason Gray also reports that Martin Scorsese may be filming Silence, his adaptation of the novel on 17th century Japan, in Japan after all.

- Before moving on L, the spinoff for Death Note, Hideo Nakata finished his horror flick Kaidan. Twitch has the full theatrical trailer up. Am I the only one that thinks the Ayumi Hamasaki theme song is really out of place?

- Meanwhile, Yukihiko Tsutsumi, the director of Memories of Tomorrow and Trick, has signed up for yet another comic adaptation.

- Twitch is reporting some rumor from Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily (and we know how reliable Hong Kong entertainment news are) that Chow might take up a non-comedic role in a war film as part of his deal with Sony Pictures.

As kind of a related note, a Hong Kong entertainment reporter reported that Chow Yun-Fat is rumored to take a role in a kung-fu take on the Snow White story with Disney. I am not even joking, and I’m not being sarcastic. I heard this with my own ears.

- Under “no one really asked for this” today, Jackie Chan is joining George Foreman is a campaign to sell the George Foreman Grill in Asia. I’m not gonna bite.

- Twitch has a first look at Mathieu Kassovitz’s latest film Babylon AD, starring Vin “I should’ve starred in 300″ Diesel and Michelle Yeoh. It’s not even real footage, but rather behind-the-scenes stuff. Still, it’s actually looking pretty good.

Best of Golden Rock - May 21st to May 27th

The following is a compilation of the most notable news covered by The Golden Rock from May 21st to May 27th, excluding the Cannes Film Festival news:

- Jason Gray has seen Takeshi Kitano’s “Kantoku Banzai,” but has sworn to secrecy. So good luck trying to decipher his response, completely done in Japanese smiley faces.

- How can you get your movie into China without having to worry about blackout dates and import quota? Engage in an artistic battle royale with your fellow filmmakers at the Shanghai International Film Festival, and you shall get your wish.

- Following in the footsteps of Variety Asia, Hollywood Reporter has recently decided to expand their coverage into Asia with new offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. Good for them.

- EastSouthWestNorth has a link to an English TVB-produced special about The Society For Truth and Light, a conservative group in Hong Kong that is very much on the opposing side against the Chinese University of Hong Kong student newspaper controversy, and is a strong opponent against laws that outlaw discrimination of “sexual minorities” (that would mean the gays). The focus of the program is that they have recently been teaching a human rights course to schoolteachers. My favorite quote about the course: “If you think your time is valuable, don’t try to join this course.” Sounds like a quote ready for print.

- There have been clips of Sammi Cheng’s Hong Kong concert on Youtube, prompting the record company to ask Youtube to take it off the site. Problem is that these are just badly recorded clips from cell phones of digital cameras, so why start some petty copyrights fight to give up some promotion for the concert DVD?

- Apparently someone used a digital camera or something and bootlegged some footage from the reel for Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly from the Cannes Film Festival. It looks technically accomplished, with huge explosions and whatnot, but Feng Xiaogang is first and foremost a commercial filmmaker. And honestly, the battle scenes look like they were taken straight out of Taeguki, which took its battle scenes out of Saving Private Ryan.

- Who says that playing video games ruins your mind? Well, maybe in America, but in Japan, the Nintendo DS is actually being used effectively to learn English.

- Mark Schilling has written an obituary for director Kei Kumai, who passed away on Wednesday morning Japan time.

- LoveHKFilm also has some new reviews, including last week’s openers in Hong Kong - Herman Yau’s Gong Tau and The Matrimony, starring Leon Lai and Rene Liu. On the Panasian side, there’s also the Japanese films Midnight Sun, Strawberry Shortcakes, and Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Ozu tribute Cafe Lumiere.

Out of those, I’ve only seen Cafe Lumiere, and if i have never been to Tokyo, I would’ve been bored to death by it. But for some reason(most likely in that I’m a bit of a transportation nerd), I really liked how Hou Hsiao-Hsien captured Tokyo in such a naturalistic fashion. It’s not really a crazy city. In fact, despite its sheer size, the city is rather serene when you leave its busiest districts, and that’s what Hou managed to capture. Also, I was in a Japanese cinema class at the time, and I was actually looking for recurring Ozu themes throughout the film, which made it even more interesting. Plus, it was fun playing “what’s that train” and “which train station is that” throughout the film. However, I expect everyone else to be pretty bored.

- Good to see the Japanese government embracing the technology, with a government panel now encouraging webcast of television content without requiring getting permission from all rights holders, as long as royalties are paid.

This leads me to a short rant. Recently, I signed up for a Japanese video service named Gyao, which is by the Usen Group and basically provides streaming video service for free. Unlike websites like Veoh and Crunchyroll (no link for you!) basically allow users to upload and watch films for free and illegally, this one is actually 100% legal and free, paying for itself through advertising. It has films, music videos, dramas, basically everything users wanted when they go to sites like Youtube. I was signed up and ready to watch (I knew something was fishy when they asked for my Japanese zip code, though. I used the zip code of someone I know), then the service won’t let me watch it, limiting it to Japanese computers only.

Obviously, I understand that it’s a matter of copyrights when foreign films or films sold to foreign distributors are involved, but this just shows how much the studio cares about exposure versus pure profit. Who cares who watches their movies when they got money from their foreign deals all lined up? This disdain for international audiences by Japanese distributors are why copyrights for their shows are infringed all the time. This is why sites like Crunchyroll and Veoh pop up, while the Japanese authorities moan and whine about how foreigners are stealing their copyright. Mind you, I’m not going to start downloading Japanese movies without paying my dues, but I think they brought it onto themselves.

- Here’s kind of an interesting idea for a new film. The Korean-Canadian co-production “Anti-Hero” introduces a world where everybody has some kind of unique power (where are they going to think of 6 billion different unique powers?) except for the protagonist. Doesn’t that make him unique in the first place?

- Looks like Harvey Weinstein and Luc Besson are going at each other over The Weinstein Company’s release of Besson’s last film Arthur and the Invisibles. Even though Weinstein does have a record of screwing with their foreign acquisitions, I actually haven’t really heard anything positive about Arthur and the Invisibles, so it was probably going to flop anyway. Maybe Besson is just look for a scapegoat for failing to gauge the audience for this film.

- Another conflict that might pop up is going on in Japan, where outspoken director Izutsu Kazuyuki (Pacchigi - Love and Peace) praised films in general…..except Kitano doesn’t exactly care whether directors like films or not. This is ironic, considering Kitano’s movie emulates just about all popular genres of film, which I figured only a director that likes film would do.

- After becoming a limited release hit in Hong Kong, Borat has finally landed in Japan. Playing in about 30 screens nationwide (including just one theater in central Tokyo), the limited release strategy is another step by Fox to try and understand the strange Japanese market, where there really hasn’t been much of a pattern as to what type of Hollywood films work there (A.I. was a huge hit there while Batman Begins was not). Check out some of the more interesting promotional tactics. Also, the Shibuya theater linked above is offering admission for 1000 yen (scroll about one entry down) if you show up at the the theater on Mondays with a mustache on (fake mustache ok, but no stubble, not sure if the theater offers the mustache) and mention “hige” (mustache in Japanese) at the box office. Oh, and Japan Times has a review for it too.

- Everybody is finishing up their trilogies in recent years, from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Death Trilogy” to Gus Van Sant’s…..other “Death Trilogy” (apparently death at the hands of strangers is what he calls it) to Park Chan-Wook’s “Revenge Trilogy.” Apparently, even Takeshi Kitano has been doing a trilogy from “Takeshis’” to “Kantoku Banzai!”. Now he’s planning to finish up this “self-exploratory trilogy” with a movie about the life of an artist from success to ruin that will feature his own paintings. Parallel to Kitano’s own directorial career is still unknown, depending on the reviews for “Kantoku Banzai!”.

- There’s a law in China that bans all materials that deal with the supernatural. Films and books that deal with the supernatural are often banned, though there are ways around it, as evident in the recent thriller The Matrimony. The latest victim of this ban is the popular Japanese comic/animated series/films Death Note. Authorities in China finally got off their asses and seized over 2400 copies of the comic and 360 copies of what is probably the animated series or the films on compact discs. Thanks to the popularity of the comic, kids are also buying up the mock version of the Death Notebook (In Japanese, the word for notebook is “no-to,” or just “note.” So Death Note actually means Death Notebook), freaking out other kids by writing their names in it. Now that’s just plain mean.

- Since we were on the subject of law, Japan has finally passed a legislation in its parliament that bans the video recording of film in movie theaters. The fines are pretty heavy too, so think twice before bringing in that camera for the Death Note spinoff movie; keeping up your otaku cred isn’t worth that much.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 5/27/07

I don’t write about them much on this blog (probably because they broke up a few years ago), but I’m a fan of the British band Suede. After they broke up, lead Brett Anderson and former Suede member/mortal enemy Bernard Butler formed The Tears and has so far released only one album (Brett Anderson released his solo album earlier in the year, but I haven’t heard it yet). That’s where today’s song of the day is from. Even as a Suede fan, I have to admit that The Tears’ “Here Come the Tears” sounds like a pale imitation of Suede, but today’s track is still quite good (that’s why it got chosen today). It’s “The Ghost of You.”

The Golden Rock - May 27th, 2007 Edition

Cannes finally comes to a close, meaning that those who don’t really care can now rest easy. Of course, if all goes well, we’ll doing it all over again for Venice and Toronto later this year.

On the general awards front, the Romanian film “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” won the Palme D’or, Julian Schnabel won best director for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Gus Van Sant won the special 60th Anniversary Award for “Paranoid Park,” Fatih Akin won the best screenplay award for “The Edge of Heaven,” and Konstantin Lavronenko won best actor for the Russian film “The Banishment.”

On the Asian films front, Naomi Kawase’s “The Mourning Forest,” which screened on the last full day of screening in competition, won the Grand Prix (which is like a glorified 2nd place award). Variety and Hollywood Reporter critics usually don’t work on weekends (even during Cannes, apparently), so there are no reviews from them yet. However, we do have a review from Screen International’s Lee Marshall, who calls the film one of great emotional impact with a vision that is equal to Terrence Malick. Meanwhile, Mike D’Angelo has a short review on ScreenGrab, and he didn’t like it as much (it’s a short review, just scroll down. Thanks to Green Cine for the link).

Also, Jeon Do-Yeon won the best actress award for Lee Dong-Chang’s “Secret Sunshine,” which ups the awards count for Asian films in competition to two this year. Then again, the competition seems pretty heavy this year, so Asia should be glad that it represented itself quite well.

- Moving on, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, which has unfortunately not been doing very well anywhere it’s playing so far (it has open in most major territories in the world and has only made US$27 million). Now, Fox has moved up the North American release to July 20th from its second release date in September. This might be a good move, since it’s only going against John Travolta in drag (courtesy of The Movie Blog) and the new Adam Sandler comedy, which just got the R kiss of death from the MPAA.

- Everybody is finishing up their trilogies in recent years, from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Death Trilogy” to Gus Van Sant’s…..other “Death Trilogy” (apparently death at the hands of stranger is what he calls it) to Park Chan-Wook’s “Revenge Trilogy. Apparently, even Takeshi Kitano has been doing a trilogy from “Takeshis’” to “Kantoku Banzai!”. Now he’s planning to finish up this “self-exploratory trilogy” with a movie about the life of an artist from success to ruin that will feature his own paintings. Parallel to Kitano’s own directorial career is still unknown, depending on the reviews for “Kantoku Banzai!”.

- Japanese studio Toei and America’s Colombia Music are teaming up to make a series of short films for TV, DVD, and internet that will hopefully somehow lift sales by crossing CDs with DVDs. Their first film is called Metal Samurai. Good idea? Bad idea?

- Argentina and China are working on a deal to build a studio complex in Argentina. In addition, there are talks under way that would allow Chinese and Argentinean co-productions and other cinematic goodies.

- There’s a pretty ho-hum poster out for Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly. Am I the only one that’s no really excited about this?

- There’s a law in China that bans all materials that deal with the supernatural. Films and books that deal with the supernatural are often banned, though there are ways around it, as evident in the recent thriller The Matrimony. The latest victim of this ban is the popular Japanese comic/animated series/films Death Note. Authorities in China finally got off their asses and seized over 2400 copies of the comic and 360 copies of what is probably the animated series or the films on compact discs. Thanks to the popularity of the comic, kids are also buying up the mock version of the Death Notebook (In Japanese, the word for notebook is “no-to,” or just “note.” So Death Note actually means Death Notebook), freaking out other kids by writing their names in it. Now that’s just plain mean.

- Since we were on the subject of law, Japan has finally passed a legislation in its parliament that bans the video recording of film in movie theaters. The fines are pretty heavy too, so think twice before bringing in that camera for the Death Note spinoff movie; keeping up your otaku cred isn’t worth that much.

- Oh, there’s also a teaser poster for Kim Ji-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, currently in production. What the hell is that thing Song Kang-Ho is wearing?

- Since this is the summer of the sequels, Professor David Bordwell wrote about a virtual roundtable he had that discussed the possible merits of sequels in his blog.

Off to finish the second part of Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima saga. Yup, that means a feature tomorrow, right on time for Memorial Day.

The Golden Rock song of the day - 5/26/07

Today’s song of the day is again an alternate version that is probably not available on any record. From the Zazen Boys, who seem to make a very unique type of freeform rock that mixes R&B sensibility, it’s “Kimochi” from their first album. Except this is the live version featuring Shiina Ringo.

You can find another live version here, but embedding was disabled, so just clicked on the link.

Enough with the titles

I don’t know why I started putting titles for every entry, but after having to think of over 100 of them, I’m a little tired of them. So News from tomorrow on will just be under generic titles like “Golden Rock News for _______).

- The big worldwide opening this weekend is, as everyone knows by now, the third and (perhaps) final Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Spiderman 3 had already set the bar this summer with record openings all around the world. However, this blog only tracks a few, and it seems that Pirates isn’t quite tall enough for the bar.

In Hong Kong on Thursday opening day, Pirates took up 119 screens and made HK$6.8 million (this may or may not include Wednesday night shows, if there were any). It was close, but it fails to break the Spiderman record, which is 7.38 million on 122 screens. There are going to be arguments that suggest Pirates made less because it’s longer, but in Hong Kong, longer movies charge more money. In the case of Spidey, it saw a $10 extra charge because it runs at 140 minutes, while Pirates saw a $15 charge for the 168-minute length. Perhaps that’s the reason people bulked - it’s a three-hour movie that charges 15 dollars extra. This is the case where theater owners went a little too far in trying to make money, considering they are the ones pocketing this PLUS the 50% gross that’s the usual theaterowner fee. Of course, I’m making it sound a little bad, but the truth is Pirates still scored one of the Hong Kong’s biggest opening days ever.

On the rest of the top 10, Spiderman 3 still managed to make HK$600,000 on 33 screens for a 24-day total of HK$52.66 million. Gong Tau actually saw a better per-screen average than last week with HK$120,000 on 8 screens. There are only two openers, both limited releases, that entered the top 10: The animated Conan the tiny detective movie made HK$20,000 on 2 screens, which means it might be looking good this weekend for the family business. The art film The Go Master opened on one screen with HK$20,000. Looks like it’ll be the counter-programming indie hit this weekend.

Oh, in America, Pirates also failed to beat Spidey’s gross, though it also made a ton of money on Thursday night showings, which means it might be able to best Spidey’s record 3-day numbers.

- An Asian-American filmmaker hits it huge in Cannes. Raised in rural Arkansas and studied film at Yale, Lee Issac Chung’s Munyurangabo, about the Rwanda genocides, earned a rave review from Variety.

- Meanwhile, Fortissimo Films (which holds a number of Asian films, in case you wonder why it matters) have struck a bunch of deals at Cannes. Find out what Asian films are coming to your corner of the world.

- In the continuing saga of amateur college publishers versus the conservative Hong Kong society, there are now public comments criticizing the eight Obscene Articles Tribunal Adjudicators that participated in the mock classification of four articles, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong student newspaper.

Meanwhile, if anyone is still interested in what’s going on, EastSouthWestNorth translated the whole questionnaire, including the mock answers, at the risk of being reported to the TELA for reprinting obscene materials. I’m not currently living in Hong Kong, so I don’t believe I’m under the jurisdiction of this law (though I am a Hong Kong permanent resident), but much credit goes to Mr. Soong’s work and his dedication to cover the important topics of Chinese media. He even goes into the entire classification process, which I have no idea how I managed to miss the link for.

- Speaking of conflicts, looks like Harvey Weinstein and Luc Besson is going at each other over The Weinstein Company’s release of Besson’s last film Arthur and the Invisibles. Even though Weinstein does have a record of screwing with their foreign acquisitions, I actually haven’t really heard anything positive about Arthur and the Invisibles, it was probably going to flop anyway.

- Another conflict that might pop up is going on in Japan, where outspoken director Izutsu Kazuyuki (Pacchigi - Love and Peace) praised films in general…..except Kitano doesn’t exactly care whether directors like films or not. This is ironic, considering Kitano’s movie emulates just about all popular genres of film, which I figured only a director that likes film that do.

- After becoming a limited release hit in Hong Kong, Borat has finally landed in Japan. Playing in about 30 screens nationwide (including just one theater in central Tokyo), the limited release strategy is another step by Fox to try and understand the strange Japanese market, where there really hasn’t been much of a pattern as to what type of Hollywood films work there (A.I. was a huge hit there while Batman Begins was not). Check out some of the more interesting promotional tactics. Also, the Shibuya theater linked above is offering admission for 1000 yen (scroll about one entry down) if you show up at the the theater on Mondays with a mustache on (fake mustache ok, but no stubble, not sure if the theater offers the mustache) and mention “hige” (mustache in Japanese) at the box office. Oh, and Japan Times has a review for it too.

- Japan Times also has a review of nationalist Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara-penned “For Those We Love,” which he claims in an anti-war film….except reviewer Mark Schilling says Ishihara writes the war as “an idealistic crusade to free Asia from Western domination.” Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds awfully pro-WWII to me.

- The Hideo Nakata-helmed Death Note spinoff L already has an official site up with a teaser trailer. Don’t get excited, though, it includes absolutely no footage from the film, because it’s a teaser announcing that shooting starts in the summer.

- More movie website news: The website for Shinji Aoyama’s new film Sad Vacation is up and running, but no trailer on it yet.

- Lastly, there’s a 4-minute trailer up for Kenta Fukasaku’s latest film X Cross (no, not the action film he announced he would do a few weeks ago). According to the trailer, it’s about a woman running away from a cult that cuts young girls’ legs off, and it promises a scare every 5 minutes. Except for the cross-dressing killer, it looks pretty intense. Remember it’s the very fist link.

 
 
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