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The Golden Rock - July 6th, 2007 Edition

Saw the new Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille today, and had a great time as expected. Of course, I was especially excited to see this because it marked Brad Bird’s first film since The Incredibles, which was also the last Pixar film I wanted to see (I still haven’t seen Cars yet). It’s less “action-packed” than The Incredibles, which can be expected since it’s about a rat who becomes a chef, but there are still some really exciting sequences here that shows how far computer animation has come. The best part is that as excitedly real as it looks at times, the animators still have their feet firmly planted on fantasy land, with rats that walk on two feet and emote as if they’re human. And the writing is again top notch, with great comedy bits and even instances of subverted cliches. The rat clan on the move scenes do get a little goosebump-inducing, but like the usual Pixar films, this is a ton of fun to watch.

- As always, we start with the Hong Kong Thursday opening day box office numbers. The “official” opening day for Die Hard 4.0 was a little lackluster, making “only” HK$740,000 on 51 screens after the weeklong preview made HK$6.36 million. Shrek 3 will remain a viable competitor this weekend, as it made another HK$600,000 on 51 screens for an 8-day total of HK$13.37 million. Hooked On You might seeing a fair drop this weekend, making only HK$350,000 on 32 screens on Thursday. I don’t see it doing any better than HK$500,000 per day over the weekend. After 8 days, it has earned HK$5.46 million, which means it should end up being a moderate earner, but not a homerun by any means.

Remember I said Wonder Woman might be a huge hit? I was dead wrong, especially when I found out it only opened on 12 screens on Thursday. What’s worse is that it only made HK$90,000, despite film critic Shek Ki giving it a very positive review on Ming Pao daily yesterday (no link, sorry). The weekend’s third opener, Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse segment Planet Terror, actually did better than Wonder Women and made HK$140,000 on 15 screens, despite the no-one-under-18 category III rating.

- The Korean summer hit Black House is heading to Japan in October. Unlike other Korean films, this one might actually have a fanbase in Japan because it was based on a Japanese novel. Hell, they’re even putting on a wide release of 250 screens.

- The Tokyo International Film Festival has picked a new programmer for the Winds of Asia section, which promotes young talents from Asia. He wants to expand the scope to South, Middle, and Central Asia. Why doesn’t he just say “the rest of Asia” instead?

- After a theatre in Tokyo found enormous success with their screenings of the hit Korean drama Hotelier, the theatre is going back for some more Yong-sama classics. Starting on Tuesday, the theatre is screening each week two episodes of the complete version of Winter Sonata, THE drama that started the Korean wave in Japan. The theatre first decided to play it on three of their screens simultaneously, but when the tickets were quickly sold out, they will now play it on all their screens except one. The power of Yong-sama prevails.

- On a related note, overseas sales of Korean TV programs, mostly dramas, has seen increase in some markets. However, it also saw a decrease in key markets such as China, Japan, and Taiwan.

- The New York Asian Film Festival is winding down, and Asian Cinema - While on the Road uploads another report, this time about the screening of the Pakistani zombie horror flick Hell’s Ground and hanging out with hip Asian directors on the 4th of July.

More news throughout the weekend as they come in. And remember the Podcast on Sunday.

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