June 26th, 2007
- The Japanese box office numbers just came out on Box Office Mojo, except they didn’t provide the exchange rate they used this week, so we’ll just simply have to trust their number. Anyway, Pirates of the Caribbean drops another moderate 23% for a current total of roughly 8.36 billion yen already (and this monster is still making more than 500 million yen a weekend!) , so it should go well past the 10 billion mark Sony couldn’t get Spiderman 3 to hit. More amazingly, the comedy Maiko Haaaan!!! drops only 3.1% from last weekend’s gross to make roughly 738 million yen already and should go past the 1 billion mark pretty easily as well.
Other than Spiderman 3’s slow but consistent drop (only 25% this week, but a weak per-screen average means its pulse is quickly growing weak) and the small 20% drop for Sono Toki Kare Ni Yoroshiku, everything else on the top 10 are dropping at the usual 30-40% rate. Furthermore, this weekend’s double whammy of Shrek 3 and Die Hard 4.0 should give the box office a knock on its ass.
There’s an interesting addition this week on the chart worth mentioning that didn’t show up last week . The dark comedy-suspense-one-set film Kusaragi opened on the weekend on the 15th on only 28 screens and still managed to make 20.4 million yen. While that’s only 49% of the opening for star Oguri Shun’s last film Ghost Train. To be fair, Kusaragi opened only on 30% of the screens Ghost Train opened with, so this opening of 729,000 yen per-screen is pretty impressive. As for its second week, it seemed to have played even stronger with a roughly 839,000 yen per-screen average for 30 screens. I have to admit, a film about 6 guys coming together to mourn the death of their D-grade youth idol does sound pretty interesting, even if it’s from the writer of a commercial heart tugger like Always - Sunset on Third Street.
One movie that did open this past weekend but didn’t show up is Yuko Takeuchi’s return to the big screen with Side Car Ni Inu(more info from Hoga News). What’s the big deal, you might ask? The big deal is (and I’m afraid this involves a bit of geinou gossip) that this is Takeuchi’s first film role since her rather ugly divorce with Kabuki bad boy Shidou Nakamura (which got set off when he got caught drunk-driving with another woman in the car). To add irony into this, she actually plays the mistress of a married man who moves in to the family home one 80s summer.
Anyway, the film actually seems like a lot more innocent than it sounds, and it just opened in a limited release. I look forward to Eiga Consultant’s analysis of it (with a star like Takeuchi, it’s bound to come sooner or later), though some theaters seem to be reporting that it’s not bringing in a lot of audiences. Meanwhile, check out the official site for a trailer (click on 予告編)
- In Korea, the win by horror film Black House in nationwide attendance marks the first time a Korean film has taken the top spot at the box office in eight weeks.
- The hit drama of the Spring season Proposal Daisakusen (Operation Love) wrapped up its run Monday night Japan time, and it managed to score a season-high 20.9 rating (roughly 13.56 million viewers), effectively saving the season from total embarrassment. It’s also by far the winner of the season with a season average of 17.3 (roughly 11.23 million).
- Nielsen EDI, a firm that tracks box office and TV ratings, is expanding their box office tracking service to South Korea and Japan. Too bad a little blog like mine won’t benefit from it.
- The Tribeca Festival, started after the 2001 World Trade Center attack to revive New York, is bringing a mini-version to Beijing?! So, will it be more overpriced movie tickets and glamourous superstars, or will there actually be quality movies shown there?
- Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor was released on DVD with English subtitles earlier this month in Japan. Now the people who didn’t want to shell out 3000 yen for it can get the Hong Kong edition in a few days.
- The Bangkok International Film Festival was forced to drop the Cannes jury award winner Persepolis as its opening film after the Iranian government called to complain. The animated film is directed by Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian living in France, and the film is an autobiographical work based on her childhood in Tehran. Another ugly example of politics unreasonably intervening in art.
- As I was browsing around the Tokyo movie theater websites, I found the new films by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, who made Trick the Movie, Memories of Tomorrow, AND Sairen in 2006. This year he’s off making three more with the already-released Taitei No Ken, Hotai Club (with Yuya Yagira), and Jigyaku no Uta (starring Hiroshi Abe and Miki Nakatani). Click on トレーラ to see the trailers in their respective official sites.
Anyway, this goes to show that Japanese directors work surprisingly hard, mostly regardless of the reaction to their work. Tsutsumi is not the only one that has made three films in a year: Isshin Inudou saw three films released in 2005, Takeshi Miike often see 3-4 releases each year, and Isao Yukisada even follows up the biggest blockbuster of the year in summer 2004 with a huge historical blockbuster in time for New Years 2005. Of course, the film industry has to be healthy enough to enable these filmmakers to make so many films, which would explain why people are so impressed that Johnnie To can work on so many films at once.
- This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, and Vancouver, which has been named mini-Hong Kong by some, is holding a small film series as a part of the Vancouver International Film Festival to celebrate it. For some reason, they managed to pick both the Election films by Johnnie To to be part of the screening. Considering those films are known to be allegories for the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong, it’s like showing Wag the Dog to celebrate Independence Day in the United States.
- In Hong Kong, one pop culture way to celebrate the handover anniversary is getting a bunch of pop stars together and sing a song! “Have You After All” features Andy Lau, Alan Tam, Hacken Lee, Eason Chan, Joey Yong, Leo Ku and even some Chinese opera singers pretty much praising how great Hong Kong has been in the last ten years. Especially cringe-inducing in its ass-kissing is the line about “Lion Rock connecting with the Great Wall/It can be felt in the veins” and the random Mandarin lines towards the end.
Then some Hong Kong netizens come along and make a spoof of the song (a version with English lyrics here), not only writing satirical lyrics to lampoon the Hong Kong government with a pro-democracy slant, but also finding buddies to imitate the singers in the original song (especially spot-on are the Alan Tam and Chinese opera singer impressions). The best part is that the spoof got 10 times more viewers than the original song on Youtube.
It has become such a pop culture phenomenon that a RTHK program (RTHK is the government-run radio station with television production as well) would use the spoof as a way to mock the government (At one point, the host says everyone should get a “Don’t Speak Taboo face mask” and a “Don’t Hear Taboo ear plug”) and the Chief Executive. Of course, there’s also the anti-democracy spoof of the spoof, which just goes to show how much freedom of speech people still have in Hong Kong.
(Thanks to EastSouthWestNorth for the idea)
- Lastly, Christina Aguilera says that she has been reading scripts to find the right role for her acting debut. I hope she never finds that script.