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Archive for October, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 31st, 2007 Edition

- Let’s first go over the Japanese box office numbers. Takashi Miike’s Crows Zero was quite a hit, making 397 million yen over the first two days from 259 screens, which was way more than enough to knock Hero off the top spot after holding it for 7 weeks. The drama adaptation is no slouch, though - it only lost under 18% of its business and is still on 475 screens. This is probably Fuji’s way of trying to push it to the 1- billion yen mark.

The other newcomers all found spots in the top 10, with Jigyaku No Uta (also known as Happily N’ever After) starring Miki Nakatani and Hiroshi Abe opening somewhat disappointingly at 8th place on 147 screens. Even more disappointing is Neil Jordan’s The Brave One starring Jodie Foster, which found only a 5th place opening after opening it on 294 screens and a big Hollywood-size premiere in Japan.

- The blog is now leaving the Oricon charts reporting to Tokyograph’s weekly reports because it seems like people don’t quite care about analysis of Japanese music charts. I care about numbers, but I deliver what people want, and I skip what people don’t. So, Bump of Chicken has two singles on the top 10, and a Morning Musume compilation album can only muster a 6th place debut.

- It’s reviews time! All from Variety this time are Russell Edwards’ review of the Tokyo International Film Festival opener Midnight Eagle, which is supposed to open day-and-date in Japan and North America, though it sounds kind of crappy. There’s also Robert Koehler’s review of Ryo Nakajima’s This World Of Ours, which is revealing plot details I’ve never heard of. Lastly, Derek Elley has a review of the Korean blockbuster May 18.

- Twitch has more about Danny Pang’s latest film In Love With the Dead. After reading the convoluted plot description, I honestly wonder if it’ll be able to top brother Oxide Pang’s The Detective.

By the way, I couldn’t get the trailer to work, but good luck to you.

- Just like The Forbidden Kingdom, Jet Li would like to tell you that The Mummy 3 may not be a very good movie.

- I know i should not judge a book based on its title, but why would anyone give $40 million for a film with a title like Laundry Warriors? I think it was the “We will deliver a stylized, partly anime feel, with the techniques of ‘300,’ but a look that is brighter” line that inspired their confidence. Their confidence, not mine.

Anyway, they’ll be shooting this thing in New Zealand.

- NHK will be airing a special of actress Takako Matsu’s singing career. For Hong Kong Japanese entertainment fans, Takako is known as half of the golden duo (with Kimura Takuya) that started the Japanese drama fever in the late 90s with the drama Love Generation. Perhaps that’s why I can’t really buy the idea of her being a singer.

- Kaiju Shakedown writes about Japanese director Masato Harada’s two latest movies. One of them happens to be that suicide song movie from earlier in the year that had advertisements in Japanese toilets.

- After the live-action franchise has proven to be a hit (though not very good in quality), Capcom and Sony will be working on a CG 3D feature animated film based on the Biohazard franchise set to be released in the second half of next year. For those not in the know, Biohazard is better known as Resident Evil outside Japan.

- Last but not least, director Senkichi Taniguchi, who directed several screenplays written by Akira Kurosawa, has passed away at 95.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/30/07

- The Hong Kong box office numbers are back. On Sunday in Hong Kong, the crime drama Brothers topped the charts with HK$590,000 from 34 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.18 million. That means it will indeed reach the targeted box office producer Andy Lau hoped for, making it a qualified hit. Still hanging on at second place is Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, which actually almost beat Brothers with HK$568,000 from 34 screens. After 33 days, the erotic thriller has made an astounding HK$38.81 million.

Newcomer-wise, Saw 4 opened day-and-date to the United States, but didn’t open as impressively as it did in North America. From 26 screens, the horror sequel made HK$346,000 for a 3-day total of HK$1.12 million. The other horror opening this weekend was Rob Zombie’s “reimagining” of Halloween. However, it made only HK$70,000 from 13 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000.

Other flops that opened include the British historical drama Amazing Grace with only HK$176,000 from 15 screens for a HK$610,000 4-day total. There’s also the Communist propagandistic animated film Sparking Stars, which made just HK$88,000 from 10 screens for a 4-day total of HK$170,000.

- Some Japanese box office numbers are out, but I’ll wait another day for the full numbers to come out before I report what happened.

The Golden Rock - October 29th, 2007 Edition

- Another Monday, another look at Japanese drama ratings this past week. Galileo holds on to its strong premiere ratings with a 22.1 rating for its second episode. Abanrenbo Mama with Aya Ueto also managed to hold on well, dropping only to a 14.2 rating after its 15.3 premiere episode.

Several episodes saw its ratings increased - Hataraki Man went up to a 13 rating from the previous week’s 12.3, Friday night TBS drama Utahime went up to a season-high 9.8 after a dip to 7.5, and Mop Girl’s ratings have risen for the second week in a row.

The season’s biggest disappointment (and there are quite a few already) may be the sequel Iryu 2. After premiering with a strong 21 rating, its rating has fallen dramatically to a 15.5 rating by its third week, despite the first installment being voted the favorite drama that season.

All Fall 2007 Japanese drama information here.

- The Australian film Home Song Stories, which scored several nominations at the Golden Horse Awards, just won both best feature and an award for achievement in acting for Joan Chen at the Hawaii Film Festival.

- After this year’s TV remake of High and Low, another Kurosawa film is going down the remake route: this time it’s Hidden Fortress, starring Arashi member Jun Matsumoto and Masami Nagasawa. Directed by Shinji Higuchi, who last directed the disaster spectacle The Sinking of Japan, the remake will start filming next month and set for a Golden Week 2008 release.

- The Tokyo Film Festival just wrapped, and the jury awarded the Israeli film The Band’s Visit with the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Jason Gray has a bit more on Japanese Eyes section winner United Red Army.

- Speaking of festival, the Cannes anniversary commemoration omnibus film To Each His Own Cinema will actually be released theatrically in France. Twitch has a link to the trailer, though it only features one still from each film. In case you don’t know, the omnibus features quite a few Asian directors, including Takeshi Kitano, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, and Zhang Yimou, among others.

- Why didn’t someone think of using the name earlier? Isn’t it such an obvious website name for legit Japanese comics?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/29/07

The Sunday Hong Kong box office has not been updated yet, so just wait for another day.

- Japanese attendance ranking is out, but only in Japanese. Finally, Hero has been dethroned, and by a Takashi Miike film, no less. Crows Zero marks Miike’s first number one debut this year (out of his four or five theatrical release this year so far), and Miike’s first number one film….ever?

Meanwhile, Hero is still at number 2, while the melodrama Zo No Senaka starring Koji Yakusho opened at number 3, Neil Jordan’s The Brave One with Jodie Foster could only muster a number 5 opening, Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust did even worse with a 6th place opening. Opening in a somewhat wide release (only three screens in central Tokyo, but looks like a total screen count of 100 or so) is Jigyaku No Uta with Miki Nakatani and Hiroshi Abe only got an 8th place opening.

While the box office still seems somewhat quiet, there were still 6 newcomers on the top 10. We’ll see how everything else did when the numbers come out.

- In Korea, things were pretty quiet as Lee Myung-Se’s M opens only a third place with 276,000 admissions. Still 6 of the top 10 films are Korean, which has to be a sign of the industry turning around…or Hollywood just isn’t offering very good products.

The Golden Rock - October 28th, 2007 Edition

With The Hong Kong Film blog wondering whether Hong Kong box office source has closed down for good, this blogger has found a new box office source in Starting tomorrow, the Hong Kong box office report should get back to normal.

- The American Film Market starts this coming week, and both Korean and Japanese film companies have quite a few films in store for buyers there (probably ignoring the Tokyo Film Market in the process).

Korea’s Cineclick has Volcano High director Kim Tae-Kyun’s latest, about a North Korean ex-soccer player who crosses over to China and tries to get his family to join him. It will also be bringing a promo reel for Kim Jee-woon’s highly anticipated The Good, The Bad, and the Weird.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Fuji TV is taking Shaolin Girl (the Stephen Chow-approved “sequel” to Shaolin Soccer) and Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour, the follow-up to the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel.

- It’s not going to the American Film Market, but CJ Entertainment is trying to penetrate Hollywood by co-investing in the Warner Bros. film August Rush. Considering that it’s to be released next month, there’s surprisingly little out there about it in terms of buzz. There’s a website up, though.

- It’s reviews time! Lovehkfilm’s Kozo closes out October with a review of the much-hyped “TVB Tigers” reunion film Brothers and a review of Kon Ichikawa’s shot-by-shot remake of his own film The Inugamis. Meanwhile, yours truly have a review of the Japanese documentary The Naked Emperor’s Army Marches On and a review of the Japanese hosts comedy Waters.

- There’s a pretty big possibility that I’ll be watching the Kohaku in Japan again this year, which is why I care about this news: After two years of actress Yukie Nakama hosting as head of the red team, this year may see young actress Masami Nagasawa taking on hosting duties. The problem is that Nakama was chosen because she starred in NHK dramas, while Nagasawa hasn’t been doing anything for NHK. This signals a possible desperate move by NHK to bring in more viewers for the struggling new years show.

- Speaking of Japanese TV, the Daily Yomiuri’s Teleview reports on Beat Takeshi as an educator on this week’s Japanese TV, and a pretty positive on this season’s hit drama Galileo.

- If you are Japanese, and you’re asking what the hell is a Galileo, who the hell is Masami Nagasawa, and the only thing you get from this entry is Kohaku, then this new TV station is for you.

- Posters for Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai’s latest Mad Detective, starring Lau Ching-Wan and premiered in Venice, has started appearing in Hong Kong theaters. There’s no official release date yet, but the poster shows that it’s already been rated category-III (no one under 18 may be admitted). It seems like after the success of Election, SPL, and Lust, Caution, Hong Kong filmmakers are finding the guts to make some hardcore films again.

- Japanese pop singer Bonnie Pink, who has traveled to Sweden to record so much that she calls it her second home, announced that her latest album will be released in Sweden in February next year.

- The Hong Kong government will start a public consultation soon about the fate of public broadcaster RTHK after an independent committee suggested earlier that a new independent broadcaster be established. In addition, the broadcaster has also undergone a year of both private and public scandals.

The Golden Rock - Special Golden Horse Award Edition

- The biggest news of the day is the announcement of the Golden Horse Awards. After getting rejected from two important film awards, Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution finds a home in the Golden Horse with 11 nominations, including one in every major category (except for supporting acting roles, because let’s face it, Leehom Wang isn’t that good of an actor). Sadly, no Hong Kong films were deemed good enough to get a best picture, but it did get a nomination in all the other major categories.

Here are the nominees for the major categories:

Best film

What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?!
Tuya’s Marriage
Getting Home
Lust, Caution
The Home Song Stories

Best Director

Wong Quan An (Tuya’s Marriage)
Yau Nai Hoi (Eye in the Sky)
Ang Lee (Lust, Caution)
Li Yang (Blind Mountain)

Best Actor

Gurmit Singh (Just Follow Law)
Aaron Kwok (The Detective)
Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Lust, Caution)
Zhao Ben Shan (Getting Home)

Best Actress

Yu Nan (Tuya’s Marriage)
Joan Chen (Home Song Stories)
Tang Wei (Lust, Caution)
Li Bing Bing (The Knot)

Best Supporting Actor

Tony Leung Ka-Fai (The Drummer)
Louis Koo (Protege)
Wu Jing (Invisible Target)
Joel Lok (The Home Song Stories)

Best Supporting Actress

Chang Chun Ning (What On Earth Have I Done?)
Maggie Shiu (Eye In the Sky)
Fan Bing Bing (The Matrimony)
Alice Tzeng (Secret)

Best Adapted Screenplay

A Battle of Wits
The Sun Also Rises
Lust, Caution

Best Original Screenplay

Just Follow Law
Tuya’s Marriage
God Man Dog
The Home Song Stories

The complete list of nominees.

Hong Kong films (meaning the film is in Cantonese and/or the director originated from Hong Kong) accounted for a total of 22 nominations, although I’m somewhat disappointed that there are actually feature film categories with no Hong Kong films nominated at all.

Why the hell is Alice Tzeng nominate for Secret, but not lead actress Guey Lun-Mei?

Tony Leung Ka-Fai for The Drummer? Really? I swear half his scenes were leftover footage from Election.

The committee seems to love Aaron Kwok so much they should probably just give him an honorary lifetime achievement acting award already.

Thanks to the Hong Kong film blog for the link.

The Golden Rock - October 26th, 2007 Edition

The start of another weekend, and the beginning of spreading news out over 3 days. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of news all weekend.

- Last week I linked to the review for Suzuki Matsuo’s Welcome to the Quiet Room, which opened on 13 screens last weekend. With one theater in Shibuya seeing full house all day on opening day, the comedy-drama made an impressive 15.47 million yen, surely scoring the best per-screen average amidst the weak box office.

Meanwhile, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling chimes in with a review.

- There are also a ton of stories about the animated series Afro Samurai, which is seeing its extended cut get a theatrical release in Japan this weekend.

First, there’s a report from The Associated Press/The Daily Yomiuri about the reaction to the first series.

Then the Japan Times has a feature on what’s next, including a comic book version by the creator himself.

And then comes the confirmation that creator Okazaki is now working on the production of the second series.

- Don’t think I forgot about the Tokyo International Film Festival. Actually, I’ve been waiting all week for a review anywhere for the opening film Midnight Eagle. But the only news about the film so far is that it’s been sold to a few more territories, including this blogger’s current city of residency Hong Kong.

- At least we know Tokyo is the real land of opportunity: Even a movie a written by the writer of the Tony Jaa starrer Tom Yum Goong can win the Tokyo Project Award out of 37 other movies.

- Meanwhile, another film festival is underway. In addition to the Sylvia Chang tribute, the World Film Festival of Bangkok opened with the unintentionally funny historical epic Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (lovingly called here as “that Genghis Khan movie).

- Also, the Reel Asian International Film Festival in Toronto announced its lineup. Try to avoid the self-promotion along the way.

- Lastly, in your daily Lust, Caution news, the Philippines will be getting a full uncensored version of Ang Lee’s erotic espionage drama in its theatres while those in neighboring countries are stuck with a censored version.

Sadly, it has also become the little puppy without a home, as the Hong Kong Film Awards have also disqualified the Asian co-production because it doesn’t feature eight Hong Kong residents in key creative roles.

That, and a ton of other unfairness in the world from Kaiju Shakedown.

The Golden Rock - October 24th, 2007 Edition

For convenience, everything will be combined into one entry today:

- The Japanese box office numbers are out, and it’s consistent with the audience admission rankings. As expected, the box office is fairly weak, with The Good Shepard managing only a third place opening with only 97 million yen from 290 screens. Even less lucky is The Invasion with only 560 million yen. Disastrous is the Hollywood action film The Kingdom, which lost almost 53% of business from last weekend. The only films that are still really hanging in there are Hero, The Sign of Love, and Pan’s Labyrinth.

- Under “What silly thing will Jackie Chan do today?” news today, someone actually have the bad taste to ask Jackie Chan to sing the official countdown song for the Chinese Olympics. It’s OK, it’s one of the many songs the Olympic organizers plan to release to celebrate the Olympics. Seriously, how many songs does China need to celebrate the damn thing?

- Hideo Nakata is going back to Hollywood, this time adapting a Japanese novel for English-speaking audiences. No word on whether the adaptation will retain the Tokyo setting.

- Thai horror film Alone just won 4 awards at the Los Angeles Scream Fest, and no one had to censor the trailer for it to get attention either.

- I’m getting increasingly convinced that China is living in 60s United States with no racial tensions: a group of 40 conservative songwriters have signed a petition calling for a boycott of vulgar pop songs with “weird” lyrics and “lustful” themes. Next thing you know, they’ll be complaining about hip gyrations.

- I take that back - they seem to be living in a timeless fantasy communist world where producers actually think that putting the Twins as voice talents would help sell a propaganda animated film in Hong Kong.

- There will be a Japan Film Council established by April 2009 to help foreign producers coordinate their shoots in Japan. One of the reasons: The Last Samurai could’ve been shot in Japan instead of New Zealand. They probably shot in New Zealand because a bottle of coke doesn’t cost 140 yen there.

- Expect China to give The Knot its best film award at the Golden Rooster this week, because no way the film they picked to be their representative at the Academy Award would not be the best Chinese film of the year.

The Golden Rock - October 23rd, 2007 Edition

This is going to be another relatively short entry. Quite frankly, I was expecting more news from the Tokyo International Film Festival, but we only have this so far:

- The Tokyo film market started yesterday with higher attendance. However, with the Asian Film Market just wrapped up at Pusan and the American Film Market coming up, it seems like not quite enough is happening there.

- It’s reviews time! From Variety’s Russell Edwards comes a review of Kenta Fukasaku’s horror flick X-Cross. Also from Edwards is a review of Isao Yukisada’s moderate hit/Erika Sawajiri-controversy-fodder Closed Note.

- Under “this film may very well signal the apocalypse” news today, director Rob Cohen wrote in his blog that he has taken the shoot for “The Mummy 3,” co-starring Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Isabella Leung, to Beijing. With a scene described as “the Dragon Emperor racing through 1946 Shanghai Bund with 4 bronze horses,” don’t be surprised that you won’t find this film in a Mainland Chinese theater near you.

- Under “Japanese animation houses” news today, otakus, anime buffs, and fans of weird Japanese films will be quite happy about the team assembled for the new animated film Red Line. Meanwhile, animation house GDH will be releasing their first live-action effort in late November.

- Satoshi Tsumabuki will actually be in a film that might be interesting (as opposed to…5 seconds in The Fast and the Furious 3): He will play a teacher in a pseudo-documentary (based on a real 1993 documentary) featuring 28 children that will actually live together and raise a pig together. The film will follow a general plot, there will not be a script.

- In a crime against cinema, there has yet to be an American distributor for the excellent Memories of Matsuko because of “its depiction of domestic violence.” If it can be a 1 billion yen-plus hit in Japan, why can’t it stand a chance in America?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/23/07

- This week’s Hong Kong numbers come courtesy of Box Office Mojo, because hasn’t been doing its job for over a week now. Hence, the following covers the entire weekend rather than just Sunday.

As reported, Brothers takes the top spot over the holiday weekend with roughly HK$5.46 million from 35 screens. However, with its not-so-good word of mouth, it’s expected to take a dive this weekend and will probably wrap with under HK$10 million. Meanwhile, Lust, Caution is now at HK$35 million and may very well end with HK$40 million, making it harder for any film to even try and beat it for the rest of the year. Of course, be aware that like all films of this length, Lust, Caution is buoyed by a 10-20% ticket price inflation due to its length.

The TV drama adaptation Hero scores one of the more impressive opening weekends for a Japanese film with HK$2.21 million over 4 days from 27 screens, thanks to the now-legendary pairing of Kimura Takuya and Takako Matsu. The entertaining legal drama seems to carry pretty good word-of-mouth and maybe end up with over HK$5 million.

Also, two limited releases did fairly well in the crowded market this weekend: The British film Becoming Jane made HK$347,000 from 6 screens over 4 days, while the American hit comedy Knocked Up made HK$229,000 from 4 screens over 4 days.

- By the way, Lust, Caution’s gross dropped by 5%, despite it undergoing a 48-screen expansion to a total of 125 screens. After 4 weekends, the film’s made only roughly US$2.1 million at 20th place this weekend. No wonder James Schamus is cautious about expanding it. No pun intended.

- In South Korean box office, two big Korean films took over the box office with over 500,000 admissions each, while Resident Evil 3 could only get a 3rd place opening. Only 4 Korean films on the top 10 this week, and a surprising amount of small European films on the chart as well. Copyright © 2002-2019 Ross Chen