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Nippon Friday

Before I get into the Japan news, let’s get into some Hong Kong box office business first -

- A total of five films opened in Hong Kong on Thursday opening day, and that would naturally take away quite a few screens from Spiderman 3. Losing about 40 screens, Spidey still made HK$1.12 million on 81 screens for a 10-day total of HK$34.71 million. Expect another fairly big weekend (maybe 2-3 million per day?) and smooth sailing for the $50 million record mark until those pirates come along.

The biggest opening this week is the sequel 28 Weeks Later. On 27 screens, the zombie horror film made $300,000, and may do OK for the weekend with about HK$500,000 per day. The Japanese blockbuster Umizaru: Limit of Love (which made an astonishing US$60 million-plus box office take last year, despite the ratings for the drama and the original film’s gross not all that spectacular.), which is playing in Hong Kong right after the end of the drama’s run on TV, made only HK$120,000 on 14 screens. Expect TV fans either having already downloaded this or just waiting to catch this on home video instead. Fracture also opened on 15 screens with only $100,000 on opening day, Priceless, starring Audrey Tautou and just opened last month here in the United States, made HK$60,000 on 7 screens, and the Singaporean blockbuster “Just Follow the Law” crashes and burn with just HK$10,000 on 7 screens.

Lastly, Herman Yau’s Gong Tau, which has a strange release date of Tuesday the 15th (I think it might be a Chinese thing), did OK with its advance midnight shows. On 15 screens, it made only HK$50,000, which is decent, considering it’s only one show on a weeknight. There will be more midnight shows through the weekend, which might help earn some buzz that it desperately needs.

- A Japanese streaming video site has the teaser for Hitoshi Matsumoto’s “Dai Nipponjin,” which just joined the Director’s Fortnight lineup at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s OK, I have no idea what the hell was going on in that teaser either.

- The previously-mentioned “King of Foreign Otaku” contest was on TV in Japan two nights ago, and Japan Probe has a report on it with short clips (the link he provides to the contest on Youtube is already gone. Well-played, TV Tokyo). And the winner is from Hong Kong! Represent!

Wait. Upon closer inspection, the guy’s name is Cheng Ga Fai….isn’t that the former radio host who specializes in Japanese pop culture?! I actually have one of his Tokyo guidebooks. Crazy…

- Kiroi Namida, starring boy band Arashi, opened April 14th at just one theater in Tokyo. After its expansion on April 28th to 31 screens nationwide (considering this is starring a fairly popular pop group, why not open it wider?). Eiga Consultant reports that it has since recorded over 107,000 viewers after 4 weeks (that’s a good thing), and that it’s pretty much attracting everyone from their 20s to their 60s (thanks to Arashi, director Isshin Inudou, and the writers of both the screenplay and the original novel.). The trailer actually looks pretty good, proving that boy bands in Japan don’t necessarily always make bad movies.

- Sakuran is coming to DVD on August 3rd, and this time, it has English subtitles! As much as I am looking forward to this one, too bad I won’t be able to afford it.

- This took a while. The Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization in Japan (did anyone actually know this existed?) formed a new Broadcasting Ethics Verification Committee that will investigate false information on factual TV programs. Call me a cynic, but I predict bureaucracy and politics to get in the way of getting any actual work done on this committee.

- Do they really need to do this? The head of the Motion Pictures Association John G. Malcolm is going all the way to Japan to encourage crackdowns on piracy and to congratulate Osaka police for taking down groups that produce and sell pirated films in the region. Of course, what Malcolm doesn’t know is that he’s thanking the worst police force in the country.

- With at least four Chinese films and one Japanese documentary being made about the Nanjing Massacre, a Japanese government official is saying to make sure the facts are “not distorted.” What part does he not want distorted, he didn’t specify, but I have a feeling it might the part that has something to do with Japanese soldiers killing Chinese people.

That’s it for today. More tomorrow, including Japan Times reviews.

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