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The Golden Rock - July 12th, 2007 Edition

- The closest thing to a box office report today is that while Harry Potter is breaking records in North America, Ming Pao Daily in Hong Kong reports that it didn’t even get anywhere close to hitting the opening day records set by Spiderman 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean. On only 42 screens (Pirates and Spidey opened on doubled that number), Potter made reportedly HK$3 million, after ticket price inflation (It’s not even 140 minutes long!!!!!) and the IMAX 3d ticket sales, which is double the price of a normal ticket. Still, it’s the highest Potter opening in Hong Kong yet, and it didn’t even open on a public holiday, so it’s still safe to say that this movie is going to be huge.

- The new Japanese horror film Densen Uta (Infectious Song) has a simple idea - there’s a song that kills whoever sings it (come on, I have enough trouble finding enough Japanese songs to sing at Karaoke already!). I know it sounds like a horror comedy to poke fun at the sometimes infectiously fun (ha ha, I made a pun) Karaoke culture of Japan, but they are actually taking it seriously (click on 動画 for the teaser). According to the introduction on the site, it’s inspired by the urban legend surrounding the song Gloomy Sunday.

Still, you have to give it to Shochiku for finding creative ways to promote the film. First, they will put two versions of the song in Karaoke machines across Japan, and people who choose the wrong version will get a bit of a scare. They’re also planning on releasing the actual song as a single two weeks after the film’s release, and a second version will be released depending on whether the song is really infected or not. And Jason Gray reports that they’ve even gone as far as putting QR codes around strategic locations, including bathrooms at popular department stores.

In case you are not quite caught up with cellular technology, a QR code is usually a square of strange patterns that cellular phones can decipher. In most case, reading certain codes can lead users on mobile website the advertisers want you to go to. I personally didn’t find much practical use of it since it took me a while to figure that out when I lived in Japan. But now you can use it to buy movie tickets in Hong Kong. Anyway, I digress. Good advertising, Shochiku. Now I hope the movie is watchable.

- Gamers in China are pissed off because they waited a long time to buy their legal versions of the popular online game World of Warcraft, only to find that it’s been censored by the Chinese government. According to the game distributor in China, the skeletons used to symbolized dead characters were changed to graves in the Chinese versions because of the government’s agenda to promote “a healthy and harmonious on-line environment.” Now everyone can just go buy an uncensored American version down the street for one-tenth of the price. Yay.

- On the other hand, maybe they won’t find a copy, because a month-long piracy sweep across Asia saw millions of discs and thousands of burners confiscated, and the MPA promises there will be more. Of course, that’s not stopping people from being able to find copies of Transformers in the streets of Beijing.

- There’s a new trailer for Peter Chan Ho-Sun’s Warlords, starring Andy Lau, Jet Li, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. They’re not showing much, but at least it looks like it’ll pull no punches as a gritty period action flick. At least it wasn’t “illegally” leaked.

- There’s something special in the latest Rip Slyme music video, for those of you who know that sort of thing (I certainly don’t!). WARNING: The video is barely work-safe.

Then again, if that’s not work-safe, you can forget about watching American hip-hop videos on Youtube too.

- Johnnie To’s Hong Kong Western gunplay masterpiece Exiled is going to Korea, and I’m not exactly clear on how they want to promote it. They’re certainly not promoting the stars, that’s for sure.

- Speaking of distribution in Korea, major investor Sidus, who has seen its name on many Korean films, is going into distributing their own films themselves. This is a gutsy move, considering the somewhat dire state Korean films are in this year.

- Japanese-Canandian band Monkey Majik (as in their lead vocalist and guitarist are Canadian, and the other two members are Japanese) have a hit song on their hands without even releasing a single for it. Their song “Sora Wa Maru De” first appeared on a Japanese commercial earlier in the year, and has made its way up to the number one on the USEN request charts since then. I don’t have the commercial for it, but I personally don’t see the appeal.

- Naomi Kawase may be complaining about the government not supporting films on a national level, but the Sapporo city government is sure as hell doing plenty of good. Not only will they send film students from local colleges and Hokkaido University to go work on film and TV shoots in the Sapporo area, they are also sending four students every year to visual media internships in Tokyo. Now the Hong Kong government needs to do something like that before they just pour US$35 million into subpar films.

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