- I guess I should start off and tell you that there’s a new review/observation post at the spin-off about Maiko Haaaan!!! and Beauty and the 7 Beasts. I can give you a preview and say that Beauty and the 7 Beasts is the worse HK mainstream movie I’ve seen this year…and I saw Contract Lover.
- Stephen Chow’s A Hope has finally locked a release date of January 31st, 2008, although I’m not sure if that opening date also applies to Hong Kong. As for the alien, Chow reportedly told Oriental Daily that the design is a homage to Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not a rip-off. You can probably only use the word “homage” for films more than 20 years old.
- While Stephen Chow takes three years to make his follow-up to Kung Fu Hustle, Takashi Miike is already releasing his third theatrical release of the year. More information from Twitch and Ryuganji.
- Speaking of TV, Japan national broadcaster NHK, which charges pretty much every Japanese household a mandatory fee, saw its latest business plans rejected by the government because they’re making too much money. Making too much money means they are charging too much.
- On a personal note of interest, one of my favorite directors Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film There Will Be Blood was the surprise closing film of the Fantastic Fest, and the enthusiastic word-of-mouth are pouring in, first from the Hollywood Reporter, then from Twitch’s Peter Martin. I’m extremely excited to see this, but I know I probably won’t get to for a long long long time. Instead, I’ll probably go watch another Pang Brothers movie or something.
By the way, look for a new post or two at the spin-off this weekend.
- I would’ve been surprised if you told me six months about that Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution will be the Chinese blockbuster of the year in Hong Kong, but Tony Leung’s scrotum seems to do wonders in certain circles. On Thursday opening day, which is misleading because no films “opened,” Lust, Caution made HK$1.16 million from 62 screens, which has got to be a record for a category III film. If the reports from Edko are correct, the film took an amazing HK$3.01 million on the Wednesday public holiday alone, and a pretty damn good 2.5 day-total of HK$4.88 million. But will it make the targeted HK$15-18 million by the end of the weekend?
What about the other holiday films, you ask? Oxide Pang’s The Detective officially opened on Thursday, but was in theaters for 2 days before that as “previews.” Minus the HK$220,000 from 28 screens on Thursday, the Aaron Kwok-starring thriller made roughly HK$900,000 over 2 days and a total of HK$1.18 million so far. It should have a pretty solid weekend, but I doubt it’ll go anywhere near HK$10 million.
Forget about Wong Jing’s Beauty and the Seven Beasts…no, really, forget about it, the movie is shit. Box office-wise, it’s doing better than The Nanny Diaries and Stardust, but it’s still pretty shitty. On 25 screens, the ensemble comedy made HK$180,000, and has earned a 2.5-day total of just HK$660,000. Honestly, who did they expect to pay to watch Eric Tsang and Nat Chan go up against each other again? Oh, wait, I paid….
- Apparently Seven Swords wasn’t enough for him. After Missing, which is supposed to have something to do with a ring underwater, Tsui Hark will be working on what is being called his “comeback film.” The 13 Regiments will apparently group 13 stars together - including Simon Yam, Donnie Yen, and Nicholas Tse - and have them going around the world to recover Chinese relics scattered during “the war.” When the hell was Tsui Hark ever gone? He still has Triangle coming out, and he’s already working on one film before going on to this one.
- In a continuing crackdown of the media following that ridiculous mandate regarding talent shows, the Chinese government has shut down 1,466 ads that may contain offensive materials such as scantily-dressed women or sexually suggestive language. They even censored ads for underwears. Everyone wears underwears, people. Even communists.
- One director trying to fight against that is Chinese-American director Wayne Wang. According to him, a Chinese investor pulled out because Wang refused to cut a line in his latest film A Thousand Year of Prayers that says “Communism is good. It just fell into the wrong hands.” Any film that criticizes the Chinese government is of course a no-no, so the investor was forced to back out, taking away half the film’s budget.
- For those who has seen the Hong Kong action flick Invisible Target, do you remember the blonde guy who’s involved in two of the chase scenes in the first hour? I know, I don’t remember much about him either, but apparently he’s going to Hollywood. Are they really paying him “seven digits”? It’s probably in yen, right?
- the Tuesday numbers came out for Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution in Hong Kong, but I’ll leave the reporting to tomorrow when the Thursday numbers come out just to see how well it did on the holiday. Just for record, the Tuesday night showings earned HK$710,000 from 42 screens, which I’m almost sure may be a record for a category III film (at least for screen counts).
- In China, The Sun Always Rises may have opened at second place, but it only made US$598,023 from what is reported as a 600-screen release. That means each screen made less than US$1,000, and it comes with not very good word-of-mouth. However, that can’t really be helped, considering that an arthouse release would mean that the film would definitely not make back its US$10 million budget…not that it’ll do so at this point either.
Looking at the charts, it’s surprising that teen horror film Naraka 19 is actually close to making what Contract Lover did. Not that either of these films were very popular in Hong Kong anyway.
- As we usually do on Wednesdays, let’s look at the Oricon charts. As expected, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest topped the singles chart in its first week, selling just over 70,000 copies. However, that actually seems pretty spectacular when its closest competition, the latest from boy group Dong Bang Shin Ki, only had to sell 33,000 copies to get to second place. Looking further down, You Hitoto’s latest could only muster a 10th place debut after selling just over 12,800 copies of her latest. Expect the charts to be extremely quiet next week, with Ayumi Hamasaki winning the chart for a second week in a row.
Things were a little better on the albums chart, where Angela Aki’s second album topped the charts with 88,000 copies sold. Young enka star Kiyoshi Hikawa’s latest album is far behind at second place with almost 42,000 copies sold for his latest album. Leah Dizon’s debut album is already all the way to 24th place from 9th place last week, and expect things to be very quiet here as well next week when Angela Aki will probably lead the chart again.
- Hero, the Japanese drama whose film version is filling seats at movie theaters these days, remains a hit on TV. It’s not a new TV special, but a new cut of the TV special Fuji TV aired this past weekend. While it didn’t hit the original rating of 30.9 from last year, a 22% rating is still pretty damn good, considering how weak TV ratings have been overall these days.
- Today is Japanese commercial day at The Golden Rock.
First, we present the latest Softbank ad featuring Brad Pitt. In case you don’t know, this series of ads for the mobile phone service provider feature a Hollywood star walking down a street talking on their cool Softbank phone (for example, here’s one with Cameron Diaz, who’s in at least 3 of these things). This ad is no different, except this one is directed by Wong Kar-Wai. According to Apple Daily, the shooting of the “long take” (the cutting point is the pole, in case you don’t notice) took 3 days and 200 extras.
Second, Japan Probe brings us an ad for a Nagano newspaper by animation Makoto Shinkai, who scored a minor hit with his latest 5 Centimeters per Second. The animation is quite stunning, considering the plot is damn near non-existent.
The Japanese box office numbers came out, and as it is always the case with family films, Miss Potter got dropped one place from the admissions ranking when the numbers came out because family films attract more people that buy cheaper tickets. So Naoko Ogigami’s Megane got bumped up to 6th place, beating the British film by a mere 592,000 yen in ticket sales. But it did open on just 72 screens, and Eiga Consultant reports that the film is breaking records and selling out on its Tokyo screens, so its debut is actually quite impressive.
While it’s the second holiday weekend in a row, the gross for most films were actually quite significant, with every film in the top 10 losing at least 30% of their business from the previous weekend. Even Harry Potter’s hopes of reaching that 10 billion yen mark doesn’t look too good right now.
- It was a public holiday today in Hong Kong, so no way of knowing how the Tuesday night shows were for the competing films. We’ll know more on Friday night.
- The numbers for the Japanese weekend box office doesn’t come out until tomorrow, so we’ll just going a bit into audience admission rankings for now. For the third weekend in a row, the drama adaptation Hero starring Kimura Takuya lead the rankings, keeping newcomers Fantastic Four and Arthur and the Invisibles at second and third place, respectively. Also, Naoko Ogigami’s Megane opened at 7th place, although I don’t know how many screens it opened on.
- From the (in)famous Johnny’s Jimusho comes the newest disposable pop group Hey! Say! Jump! (Jump stands for Johnny’s Ultra Music Power. Glad they’re still about the music). As an expansion of Hey! Say! (Which debuted recently), there’s more of them than ever by making it 10 members.
- After the success of the Korean blockbuster D-War (7.8 million admissions in South Korea, and US$8.5 million and counting in North America as the most successful Korean film in North American box office ever), it’s inevitable that the filmmakers would do what every successful B-movie would do: the obligatory sequel!
- Did you know that it’s actually legal to download Japanese content from the internet for private use? Of course, it’s probably illegal to upload it, but it seems like the downloader carries no actualy legal responsibility. However, it might be too late to tell you this now, because the law is about to change.
- Korean director Lee So-Yeon’s Uninvited might have been a commercial flop in South Korea, but that doesn’t mean he’s not talented. His latest screenplay Hwan Gung, about a man who believes himself to be a warrior sent to send a woman who thinks she is a mermaid back to the sea, won the Busan Screenwriting Competition, which gives him a grant of 20 million won (roughly US$20,000).
- Under “I just can’t get interested in this” news today, Taiwanese idol Wu Chun will be joining the cast of Jingle Ma’s Wu Xia Liang Zhu (or a martial arts version of the classic tale Butterfly Lovers). Twins’ Charlene Choi will be playing the other ill-fated lover, and Nicholas Tse is also in talks to join as another potential suitor for Charlene’s cross-dressing character who will probably fight while hooked on some wire.
Honestly, this sounds like it’ll be a pretty shitty movie already.
- From the city where puppy movies go far, I should’ve seen this coming. After making just HK$110,000 from 20 screens on Thursday, the Disney animal superhero film Underdog rebounded for a pretty damn good HK$400,000 from 20 screens at the Sunday Hong Kong box office. However, after 4 days, it’s only made a total of HK$1.01 million.
Even though it’s only at 3rd place, the vigilante drama The Brave One also saw a rebound, making HK$340,000 from 30 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.2 million. The third and final opening film on the top 10 is Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises. From 5 screens, the film made HK$50,000 at 8th place for a 4-day total of HK$160,000.
As for holdover films, 1408 is still going relatively strong, making HK$340,000 from 27 screens for a HK$4.13 million 11-day total. Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus is fading away slower than I thought (I thought it’d be way down on the top 10 by now), making HK$250,000 from 33 screens for an 11-day total of HK$3.27 million. A good example of a movie fading away is the B-action flick War/Rogue Assassin starring Jet Li. On 28 screens, it only made HK$170,000 for a 11-day total of HK$2.58 million. Expect this to make single digits mid-week.
This coming weekend is a holiday weekend for Hong Kong films, with Lust, Caution and Oxide Pang’s The Detective vying for the top spot. Lust is expected to win, despite being category III and running 159 minutes, but according to Ming Pao, who probably just sent an intern to look at the Broadway Cinema website, presales are only so-so for now. Still, I wonder if that’s a good indicator of how it’ll do this coming weekend. We won’t know until Friday.
- South Korea saw a long holiday weekend, but Mark Russell’s Korea Pop Wars was cool enough to report on how the weekend box office is currently doing (apparently, most people have work off until Wednesday). Director Kwak Kyung-taek, who hasn’t had a real bona-fide success since his breakout hit Friend, sees his latest film Love take the top spot with so-so admissions. Meanwhile, as a sign of the resurgence of Korean films (or the gradual weakening of Hollywood films), 7 of the top 10 films are again Korean.
- On the other hand, Japan saw yet another public holiday on Monday (The autumn equinox?), so no box office rankings until tomorrow.