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Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
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that is associated with The Golden Rock.

The Golden Rock - June 20th, 2007 Edition

- I had no idea that the public holiday in Hong Kong ended up being on Tuesday the 19th, not Monday the 18th. That would explain why Fantastic Four ended up making another HK$2.12 million on 60 screens Tuesday in Hong Kong, bringing a 6-day total of HK$11.14 million. Simply Actors, starring Jim Chim and Charlene Choi, is a hit with HK$970,000 on 29 screens on its first full day of screenings (it made an additional HK$250,000 the previous night). Mr. Cinema continues to do weakly with just HK$300,000 on 27 screens for a 6-day total of HK$1.7 million. It has now surpassed Kidnap, which made only HK$230,000 on 25 screens on Tuesday for a HK$1.56 million after 6 days plus previews. Milkyway’s Eye in the Sky has accumulated a total of HK$340,000 after 4 nights of preview screenings. It opens officially on Thursday. 4 Hong Kong movies on the top 10 - that’s a rare sight for sore eyes.

- Oricon released the rankings for music and DVDs sold in the first half of 2007. On the singles chart, Sen No Kaze Ni Natte is the number one top-seller with 916,000 copies sold. Released late last year, sales for the single rocketed after Masafumi Akikawa appeared on the year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen, and has been steady through the first six months of the year. In a far-off second is Utada Hikaru’s Flavor of Life, which in my opinion is easily Utada’s most mediocre single ever released (And I’m speaking as a fan who has shelled out 30+ dollars for her stuff since her first album); it has sold nearly 630,000 copies. Arashi’s Love So Sweet rounds out the top 3, selling nearly 421,000 copies. It’s official: Hana Yori Dango 2 ruled the music world.

In albums, Mr. Children not so surprisingly tops the chart, selling over 1.12 million copies of their album Home. I was a little surprised that Koda Kumi managed to sell 998,000 copies of her album Black Cherry, and Ayumi Hamasaki rounds out the top 3rd and 4th place with her compilation albums A BEST 2 WHITE and A BEST 2 BLACK. More surprising is the third best-selling non-compilation Japanese album would not show up until 7th place with YUI’s Can’t Buy My Love. Even Avril Lavigne managed to sell 656,000 copies of the album with that annoying Girlfriend song. Someone save J-pop.

In the DVD charts, the best selling DVD so far this year is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (which I’m sure was helped by the follow-up At World’s End), selling 430,000 copies. Second place is Hitoshi Matsumoto’s roundtable discussion DVD with 310,000 copies, and third place is the best-selling Japanese film so far this year, Umizaru 2: Limit of Love, with 267,000 copies. Even the huge pop culture event of last year, Death Note, has only sold 244,000 copies of its complete set since March. The reason why the sales seem bad is because Japan has a very active rental market due the gap between the price of a rental (400-500 yen) and the price of a DVD (2500-4000 yen for a single movie). With such a huge price difference, it’s understandable why people would rather rent than buy.

- In the weekly charts, Sen No Kaze Ni Natte is still selling strong in the singles chart. This week, it’s at 16th place, selling 7,300 copies as it inches slowly towards that million mark. Meanwhile, YUI rules the chart with the debut of her new single, selling just 79,000 copies. The Korean boy band Dong Bang Shin Ki (TVXQ) managed to sell 35,000 copies of their latest single for a second place debut. Dreams Come True’s latest disappoints slightly at third place, with only 31,000 copies sold of their latest single. Even a wedding didn’t help troublemaker DJ Ozma’s latest single, debuting at 14th place selling only 7,400 copies. Gackt’s Japanese theme for Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige is expected to win the charts next week, as shown in the daily rankings.

On the albums chart, Bon Jovi’s album hits a very surprising first place, selling 73,000 copies. ZARD’s Golden Best compilation continues to sell very well as it remains at second place with another 54,000 copies sold. There’s no real major Japanese album release this past week, so it all looks a bit quiet. Next week, Crystal Kay may earn her first number one album, if the daily rankings hold up.

- In Taiwan, three Hong Kong/Macau university students decided to show how ineffective news reporting is by creating fake news items and forwarding them to television stations. And those stations actually ended up running the stories without any verification. Someone’s in the big trouble, and it’s not the students.

- Sales are down this year at the Shanghai Television Festival, especially historical dramas. Good news is that over 40% of the stall holders were from outside Mainland China, which means it’s no longer just a place for the Chinese market. However, only 1.2% of the buyers were from Europe and the U.S..

Meanwhile, the German film March of Millions took the top TV Film Award at the Shanghai TV Festival. The strangest win in my mind was the best TV Series Award to Living, based on the same novel as Zhang Yimou’s To Live. To Live gets banned, but the drama version wins an award in China?

- Twitch has a longer trailer to new director Carl Zhang’s Lovers. It looks real pretty with the filters and all, but all it says is that the guy has some style. Let’s hope his directing and writing will back it up.

- Since Japan’s United International Pictures is packing up, Hollywood studio Paramount just flat out decided to do things themselves by distributing their own films in Japan.

- Reviews, reviews, reviews. Variety surprisingly already has a review of current Japanese blockbuster Maiko Haaaan!!! up already, while the Daily Yomiuri has a review of Naomi Kawase’s The Mourning Forest. On the same note, Japan Times has a feature on the French translator who helped translate the scenario and the script to get French funding for The Mourning Forest, which makes the fact that he still hasn’t met the director somewhat strange.

- A government-appointed advisory panel in Singapore is urging the authorities to embrace the new media by finding new ways to take advantage of traditional forms of entertainment. Then there’s a bunch of vague official suggestions that look like English, but not really.

- Shanghai finally has their first full-fledged art house theater. Hong Kong had so many of them that they had to get rid of them one by one. OK, that’s not why they’re diminishing, but Hong Kong still has plenty of them.

- Andy Lau pisses off a CCTV program by refusing to appear on their human interest show. But then they piss off the people by complaining about it. This comment is my favorite: “If Andy Lau won’t come, you criticize him. What if Andy Lau criticizes you directly? Are you going to give him a physical beating?”

- Wilson Yip is making yet another Donnie Yen movie, but at least it’s not just another action movie. It’ll be a supernatural action movie. I thought China doesn’t like ghost and supernatural tales.

- Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi is fine too) is returning to the TV drama world, except it’ll only be a two-part made-for-TV film.

- The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (I think they mean Fantasy rather than boasting that the films will be fantastic) has announced its lineup, which includes Oxide Pang’s Diary, Yamashita Nobuhiro’s The Matsugane Potshot Affair, and a special program of films by Herman Yau.

- The international hit drama “Jewel in the Palace” (Dae Jang Geum) is going to the stage in Japan after it was successful adapted as a musical earlier this year in Korea. Performance will begin this December.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the Japanese documentary Election, which has seen very good word-of-mouth.

- Director Mamoru Oshii, best known for the animated film Ghost in the Shell, announced that his next film will be The Sky Crawlers, based on the novel by Hiroshi Mori. I haven’t seen any of his work, so I can’t really comment on this.

- Twitch has a set of reviews for the films playing at the upcoming New York Asian Film Festival in case you can’t decide what to watch. The festival starts this weekend.

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