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The Golden Rock - July 13th, 2007 Edition

- Remember yesterday I reported that the new Harry Potter played on only 42 screens in Hong Kong? According to the Hong Kong Thursday opening day numbers (where nothing officially opened since Potter opened on a Wednesday), it’s actually playing on 92 screens! This is probably because Ming Pao daily meant 42 theaters, and most of these theaters are multiplexes that are playing the film on multiple screens. This makes the negative reporting on Ming Pao’s part more accurate, since the film managed to take in “only” (”only” being a comparative term with Spiderman 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean) HK$3.15 million for the two-day total of HK$6.68 million. Simple math would show that the opening day gross was HK$3.53 million on 92 screens. Still, the opening is the highest in the Potter series, and apparently it’s the highest non-holiday opening day ever.

Meanwhile, Die Hard 4 begins to slip with only HK$360,000 on 36 screens after a 15-day official total of HK$13.48 million, and Shrek 3 also dies down with just HK$190,000 on 34 screens with a 15-day total of HK$18.85 million. Believe it or not, there are still four movies on the top ten, even though their grosses are pretty weak - Hooked On You leads the pack with HK$140,000 on 19 screens for a 15-day total of HK$8.09 million; Wonder Women made HK$60,000 on 9 screens for 8-day total of HK$1.11 million (making it the lowest-grossing handover commemoration film out of the three); Eye in the Sky made HK$10,000 on 4 screens for a 22-day total of HK$4.12 million; and Simply Actors made a measly HK$4,000 on 3 screens for HK$9.3 million after 24 days. This is scary: Only two HK films have broken that HK$10 million mark this year - Protege (good) and Love is Not All Around (bad).


- In a prediction of how the latest Pokemon film will do in Japan, 2 million advance tickets have already been sold before the film’s opening this weekend. While these tickets are cheaper, at least they’re money in the bank before the film has even opened. Plus, we know with kids’ films that admissions is the true gauge of success, not money.

- A month ago or so, the Hong Kong press covered the hell out of Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki’s visit to Hong Kong to shoot the MTV for her latest single, which also stars Hong Kong model-turned-serious-actor Shawn Yue (no kidding, he went to New York for three months for acting lessons, with a translator in tow and all). Turns out the whole thing is a short film that’ll be featured on the DVD accompanying the single, which apparently will be out on the 18th.

The MTV, which I guess is part one, is now on Youtube. Hong Kong certainly looks real pretty, but director Wong Hoi (I think he does music video in HK) edits the whole thing as if he’s trying to make Infernal Affairs 328, which again shows the ineptness of MTV filmmaking in Hong Kong (EDIT: Now I remember. Wong Hoi was the editor on Initial D, which means he was responsible for the incredible annoying editing style that single-handedly ruined the film. It all makes sense now.). Plus, the whole communicating by dictionary thing just reminds of that episode of Undeclared where one of the main character can only communicate with his new Japanese girlfriend through talking dictionaries in each other’s languages. The storyline, in which Ayumi plays herself falling in love with her bodyguard during a video shoot in Hong Kong, is especially strange, seeing how she had just announced her break-up with her boyfriend of 7 years.

- Speaking of Youtube, Tokyo local broadcasting network TokyoMX, which is like the community news channel, has signed a deal to put their program on the video site. They are the first Japanese television station to do so, and I hope more stations will follow their lead.

- Jason Gray talks about the latest film by Isao Yukisada, who is getting out of his period drama slump after making THE movie of 2004 Crying Out For Love in the Center of the World. Amazingly, this childhood fantasy film is actually an original screenplay rather than based on preexisting material.

- The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (better known as PiFan) launched on Thursday after years of turmoil. However, this year will see 215 films screened in 10 days, and ticket sales are up.

- In more festival news, Ang Lee’s latest Lust, Caution has officially been invited to the Venice Film Festival. This year’s festival, whose jury will be headed by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is already feeling the Chinese influence after this week’s announcement of Alexi Tan’s Blood Brother’s placement as the festival’s closing film.

- Lastly, Benny Chan’s Hong Kong summer action flick Invisible Target, which is one of Hong Kong films’ final hope this summer, has already been bought up by the Weinstein Company for distribution in North America, Australia, and South Africa. Distribution means they’ll hold it until everyone also bought the Hong Kong DVD, then release it with a corny English dub, straight-to-video style.

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