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The Golden Rock - June 4th, 2007 Edition

- The world is changing fast. These days, a movie makes US$218 million by the end of its second weekend, and suddenly it’s a disappointment. Of course, Pirates’ disappointment probably has something to do with the 61% drop from last weekend, but that can be easily attributed to it 1) opening on a record-breaking holiday weekend, and 2) on too many screens to meet demands rather than relying on steady stream of word-of-mouth. I think the movie is getting generally good responses from people, but everyone that needed to see it had plenty of chances to see it already, so those that need convincing aren’t going to because they missed out on the first two. Anyway, with a current global take of US$624 million (to add to the over US$1 billion the second movie already made) there’s absolutely no doubt that everyone’s going to be smiling to the bank when it’s all over - they’re just upset that their deposit is a little smaller than before.

Pirates continued to do strongly (though still lagging behind Spiderman 3) on Sunday in Hong Kong, making HK2.55 million on 88 screens for a 11-day total of HK$32.92 million - that’s an average of almost HK$30,000 per day. Look for this sucker to break the HK$40 million mark, but remember - the ticket prices are 20-30% higher than the usual ticket price, so the only real gauge of success is audience admissions, and I don’t see Hong Kong releasing that type of figures anytime soon.

Meanwhile, urban romantic-docudrama-comedy Single Blog makes HK$280,000 on 28 screens for a lackluster 4-day total of HK$1.06 million. The word-of-mouth seems to be doing OK on the mov3 message board (a lot of them are saying it’s funnier than they expected), but quite a few people seemed to have gone in with free tickets. With Ocean’s 13 taking over the screens this weekend, I doubt the chain theaters are going to give this film a chance. By the way, as I mentioned last week, the “blog” connection is stated in the trailer - that 99% of the film is based on experiences people write in blogs. Just what blogs and how many blogs I have no idea. The rest of Hong Kong cinemas seem kind of ho-hum, except for the surprising performance of British film Cashback. On 2 screens, the comedy made an impressive HK$60,000 for a 4-day total of HK$190,000.

Box Office Mojo only has the top 6 movies on their site, so I’ll wait until they have the full ranking before I talk about numbers. However, I do have the attendance rankings, and as expected, Pirates took the weekend again (but with much more staying power than it did in the States). The bigger surprise is Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin showing up at 2nd place. Apparently, it opened wider than I thought, though it’s not playing in that many theaters in Central Tokyo (look at the screen counts for Pirates and the new Masami Nagasawa movie for comparison). It also beat Takeshi Kitano’s Kantoku Banzai by quite a margin, as Kantoku opened at only 10th place, right under The Banquet (!!).

Eiga Consultant further analyzes the opening weekend of the previous mentioned new Masami Nagasawa film, Sono Toki Wa Kare Ni Yoroshiku. Nagasawa got her big break with the 2004 Japanese blockbuster Crying Out For Love In the Center of the World (whose DVD probably sold so many copies that I managed to get a second-hand DVD in Tokyo for just 500 yen), and has had a considerable presence in both movies (Tears For You and Rough) and TV (Sailor Suit and Machine Gun and the currently-playing Proposal Daisakusen) ever since. However, the opening of Sono seems to prove that maybe she isn’t the big box office attraction after all. Sono made 89 million yen on its Saturday opening, which is only 94% of Rough and 23% of Tears For You. After the ratings disappointment that was Sailor Suit (only a 13.3 average rating, including a 45% drop from its first to third episode) and this, Eiga Consultant wonders whether the success of Nagasawa’s outing depend more on her male co-stars? After all, Proposal Daisakusen has boy band member Tomohisa Yamashita, and Tears for You has hunky actor Satoshi Tsumabaki. Too bad, I actually fell quite head over heels for Masami-chan (she’s three years younger than me, so I get to call her that!) after Crying Out for Love.

- Meanwhile, the recent blockbusters have been taking up so much screens in Korea (and pretty much everywhere else, come to think of it) that the Korean government is actually looking into whether studios are breaking monopoly laws. However, since these screen counts were reached by consensus between theaterowners and distributors (more demand=more screens=bigger cut), not much wrongdoing is likely to be found.

- Speaking of Proposal Daisakusen (as always, see Tokyo Graph for all drama introductions), it took quite a dive in the Japanese dramas ratings last week, dropping from a 17.4 % in week 6 to a 14.7% rating in week 7. Sexy Voice and Robo suffered from NTV dropping their 7th episode as episode 8 shows a new ratings low with only 6.5%. The Japanese remake of Korean drama Hotelier, starring Aya Ueto, also saw its lowest rating at 7.1 this past week. After announcing its planned 3-hour finale, Liar Game saw its first ratings drop in 6 weeks, from 12.0% to 11.4%. This is Fuji’s first attempt at a late-night drama, and it appears to have worked quite well. Meanwhile, TBS’s Sunday night disappointment Joudan Janai! finally stopped its freefall by recovering a slight bit on Sunday night. Starring Yuji Oda, the sitcom-like drama went back up from a 10.7 % rating last week to a 11.3% rating this week.

- Over the weekend, I posted a link to the Korean monster film D-War. Now an August release date has finally been set in both North America (where the distributor plans to open in on over 1000 screens) and in Korea. It’s hard to believe director Shim Hyung-Rae managed to get US$70 million to make this, although over half of it went to starting up a brand-new effects house for it.

- Director Katsuhito Ishii (Taste of Tea, Funky Forest: The First Contact) has leaked out some details of his latest film “Yama no Anata ~Tokuichi no Koi~.” A “cover” of the 1938 silent film “Anma to Onna,” the film will star SMAP’s Tsuyoshi Kusanagi as a blind masseur that I assume is not named Zatoichi.

- Spanish cinema is getting to be such a commodity that some of the biggest international film buyers are heading to Madrid for the latest screenings. I wonder if this is helped by the success of Pan’s Labyrinth, or am I just assuming too much because of my lack of knowledge about Spanish cinema?

- After the Indian film Rang de Basanti got nominations at the BAFTA, its studio UTV decided to release a new cut that’s 30 minutes shorter to capture more audiences. No word whether the new cut is approved by director Rakeysh Screwvalla, but he does have a comment in the article, so it would seem so.

- After appearing in 6 films, starring in one TV drama (Taiyou no Uta, or the drama version of Midnight Sun, which was confirmed to be inspired by the Hong Kong film C’est la vie, Mon Cheri), and releasing a single under said drama character’s name, Erika Sawajiri may be headed for a singing career. Sony Music has introduced a new singer named Erika who happens to look like her, has the same birthday as her, and even has the same voice….except she was born in Paris, unlike Sawajiri. But, but, she’s not even much of a singer.

- r@sardonicsmile is looking forward to the comedy Maiko haaaan, written by Ping Pong screenwriter Kankuro Kudo, and with good reason, too - it has Shibasaki Kou as a maiko.

- Twitch reviews the Korean animated film Yobi, The Five-Tailed Fox, from the team that brought you My Beautiful Girl Mari.

- There’s a parody of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing floating around the web, starring those Fisher Price Sesame Street toys. I’ve had neither, but I still found it hilarious.

- Jim Carrey is getting to be more of an actor than just another funnyman - I loved his performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I guess taking on a thriller like The Number 23 sounded pretty good on paper. Now he’s taking on the dark comedy I Love You Philip Morris, as a real-life character who escaped prison four times after falling in love madly with his released-cellmate.

- Lastly, one of those people who got sued by the America record industry for downloading is now fighting back, countersuing the RIAA and Universal on several counts, including trespassing. That way, everyone loses!

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