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Archive for October, 2007

The Golden Rock - October 22nd, 2007 Edition

Try not to be shocked - most of today’s news come from only Variety Asia and Tokyograph.

- Let’s do the Japanese drama ratings first (All drama information on Tokyograph) - a few more dramas premiered this past week, including the Monday 9 pm Fuji drama Galileo. With the hottest prime time drama spot, the Masaharu Fukuyama/Kou Shibasaki-starrer with a terrible theme song scored a very impressive 24.7 rating for the first episode. Meanwhile, the Aya Ueto drama Abarenbou Mama did OK in its premiere with a 15.3 rating.

Last week’s winner Iryu 2 (which may be getting its own movie with its strong ratings) saw a pretty big drop from its 21-rating premiere to a 16.8 rating for its second episode. Joshi Deka, the latest drama with Yukie Nakama, opened weakly with just a 13.4 rating playing at the same time as Iryu 2. Hatachi No Koibito, which the Daily Yomiuri’s Teleview column recommended this past weekend, saw its ratings drop even further to a 10.4 on Sunday night.

- Fuji TV is so happy about Galileo’s premiere ratings (the strongest since Saiyuki’s premiere back in January ‘06 for that time slot) that they’ve already greenlighted the movie version. The source material, a series of novels about a math genius, is probably all ready to be adapted, as soon as the movie makes Fuji a ton of cash.

- Variety Asia has a feature about the extent of Hollywood studios into foreign local industries. In Asia, the biggest Hollywood studios are Warner Bros. in Japan and Sony in Chinese-speaking territories.

- Under “Japanese adaptations and remakes” news today (in addition to Galileo), the fantasy trading card game Aquarian Age is heading to the big screen, and so is the successful daytime drama Sunadokei, which was based on a manga in the first place. Also, TV Tokyo is retelling the story of Sanshiro Sugata, a famous judo artist whose story was told by Akira Kurosawa in his feature film debut.

- Some film festivals that are not named Tokyo International Film Festival are also currently underway in Asia: The second annual Chinese Film Festival in Yokohama started today, with Feng Xiaogang and Zhang Yang expected to attend. Also, the first Phuket Film Festival started on Saturday as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the coastal town after the devastating tsunami three years ago.

- If you stop by a certain chain of love hotels in Tokyo, you’ll get to watch the Hollywood thriller Vacancy for free in your room. Apparently, these people got the idea that watching a movie about a couple trapped by maniacs in a run-down hotel room with hidden cameras and snuff tapes will “deepen the love”. I think they’ll probably just have sex instead.

- Under “what’s the deal in Japan?” news today, major studio Nikkatsu has signed a deal with Madhouse toon house to invade the US market together with a brand-new office in LA. Then, American distributor of Japanese films FUNimation will be delivering their acquisitions to US theaters digitally instead of the traditional way of shipping film to them.

- It’s reviews time! Catching up from last week, Lovehkfilm updated with several new reviews. Kozo gives us reviews of Kenneth Bi’s well-meaning but ill-conceived The Drummer, Kim Ki-Duk’s Breath, and Ang Lee’s erotic drama Lust, Caution. Meanwhile, yours truly checks in with a review of idol nostalgia drama Yellow Tears and the “historical” Korean blockbuster Hwang Jin-Yi.

- Variety has named Lust, Caution star Tang Wei one of the 10 actors to watch.

- Lastly, yet another one of the many films based around the Nanjing Massacre has started filming. Actually, the next time anything about this should be news is when they’re done making it, not when another one starts filming.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/22/07

- For some reason, has not updated their box office page for a week now. However, the Hong Kong Film blog comes to the rescue with their own box office report. On Sunday, the ranking the Hong Kong box office grosses are as follows:

1) Brothers
2) Lust, Caution
3) Hero
4) Resident Evil: Extinction
5) No Reservations
6) Becoming Jane
7) Michael Clayton
8) Knocked Up
9) Detective Conan

While there are no numbers, newspaper reports indicated that Brothers had a HK$1 million-plus opening day, and that it might’ve reached as much as HK$2 million daily gross over the holiday weekend. No idea whether it got anywhere near the HK$8 million goal producer Andy Lau is shooting for, though.


Measure of success in HK box office: HK$10 million

- Only the audience admission ranking is currently out for Japan. It shows Hero on top again, with three opening films from Hollywood taking the second through fourth spots: Hairspray, The Good Shepard, and The Invasion. However, if you remember, last week was a really slow week at the box office. With Hero on top again, it must’ve been REALLY slow this week.

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 10/21/2007

This week’s Song of the Week is again not picked because it’s any good, but because the video is so damn out there. From the man who introduced naked boob suits to the yearly New Year Kohaku show, it’s DJ Ozma’s Spiderman, courtesy of TV In Japan.

Seriously, the song is no good, and the video may not even be work-safe. Watch at your own risk.

The Golden Rock - October 21st, 2007 Edition

Let’s start off with some more news from the TIFF (That’s what the Tokyo International Film Festival calling themselves these days, despite Toronto having the same abbreviations):

- Jason Gray won’t be in the country for the rest of the TIFF, but he does have a link to the two-hour video of red carpet coverage and opening ceremony. I don’t think anyone is expected to watch all 2 hours of it, but you can see some interesting things, including finding out that Akiko Wada and Tokoro Joji are voicing Marge and Homer in the Japanese dub of the Simpsons movie, which will screen during the festival. D’oh!

For those not in the know, some fans protested to 20th Century Fox for not using the original Japanese voice actors for the film, but I guess Fox cared about getting non-fans in more than loyal fans.

- Meanwhile, the Winds of Asia section has a new programmer this year: Asian film scholar Kenji Ishizaka. Like many film scholars, he decided to bring lesser-known Asian films to the festival this year, particularly films from Islamic countries. The problem is even if you bring the movies, will people go see them?

Now, back to your regular news.

- Of course, we always start off with box office news around here. In the first seven months of 2007, local Japanese films have fallen to making up just 43% of the market, down 10 % from the same period in the previous year. Judging from this year’s output, the answer lies in the fact that there hasn’t been any huge blockbuster that reached the size of those last year. local megahit Hero opened in September, so we won’t know until the end of the year whether Japanese films will regain its strength. But there are still a few possible crowdpleasers on the way.

- The Daily Yomiuri’s Teleview column looks at two dramas where the Kanto and Kansai separation seems to be an issue: the new NHK morning drama Chiritotechin, which is getting much better ratings in the Kansai region than Kanto, and the Masami Nagasawa drama Hatachi no Koibito.

- Today’s Oriental Daily reports that some netizens are saying that the MTV for Jay Chou’s latest single “A Cowboy is Very Busy” (directed by Chou himself) is similar to the video for Christina Aguilera’s Candyman.

Jay Chou’s “A Cowboy is Very Busy” (try not to get too shocked)

Christina Aguilera’s Candyman

Personally, just because the diner images are similar don’t mean that one is copying the other, but what do you think?

- In more possible plagiarizing news in Chinese music, the Chinese blog 3cmusic reveals that netizens are saying that Hong Kong pop singer Paisley Wu’s “Don’t Think Just Do” has a similar arrangement (credited to veteran C.Y. Kong) to British singer Sophie Ellis Bextor’s “The Sun’s On Us.”

Don’t Think Just Do

The Sun’s On Us

Since “Don’t Think Just Do” seems to be a cover song, can anyone name the original track, and can that same person tell us whether that song has a similar arrangement as well?

- In more posting of Youtube clips, Chinese star pianist Li Yundi says in the an interview that he wonders out loud if treating classical musicians as pop idols (i.e. him) is the right thing to do. Probably not, but showing up on TVB promoting a Japanese drama that you have nothing to do with just seemed like such a right thing to do.

- In more TV news, Hotaru No Hikari, which averaged only a 13.6 rating on Wednesday nights during the Summer 2007 season, won four of the five awards at the Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix. The fifth award went to Arashi member Kazunari Ninomiya for his role in Yamada Taro Monogatari.

- Under “cut off one head, another one will pop up” news today, Taiwanese police arrested two people who run the website XYZ and confiscated 40,000 pirated discs of Hollywood movies. Yes, just two people and one of the many many websites that sell pirated discs.

- Under “what things will Jackie Chan say” news today, the action star, who is producing the Chinese reality show The Disciple in a search for the next martial artist, tells aspiring action stars to not bow the “old-fashioned way”. I hope he doesn’t mean greet your master with high-fives.

The Golden Rock - October 20th, 2007 Edition

The Tokyo International Film Festival is officially underway, with the action film Midnight Eagle premiering tonight. Variety’s already got their people on the job:

- Festival head Tsuguhiko Kadokawa says that he would like the Tokyo fest to become one of the big four film festivals, alongside Berlin, Venice, and Cannes. It probably helps that it’s part of a 40-day content festival that will overtake Hong Kong’s Filmart in terms of sheer size.

- Also part of both the film festival and the CoFesta (exclamation marks optional) is the Tiffcom. Slightly less ambitious than Kadokawa, Tiffcom would just like to be bigger than Filmart, which may happen if it isn’t programmed so close to the Asian Film Market in Pusan.

- Another major event is CoFesta is the Akihabara Enta Matsuri, where otakus can get their otaku on after catching a movie at the Tokyo Film Festival. I myself would rather stay at the film festival.

Now, we move over to the Daily Yomiuri for their coverage:

- Fest head Kadokawa also says as long as Japan is the second largest market in the world (note: that’s only for Hollywood films, and that’s because of how much Japan charges for a movie ticket), Tokyo will always be the center of Asia for films. I could argue that, but this entry’s getting long.

- Meanwhile, programming director Kazuo Kuroi talks about the films for the competition section this year. He said there’s only one Japanese film because the submissions “lack depth,” whatever the hell that means.

Now, your regular news:

- The Daily Yomiuri reviews director/writer/actor Suzuki Matsuo’s latest Welcome to the Quiet Room. I have my reservations after watching the manic Koi No Mon.

- Meanwhile, Japan Time’s Mark Schilling reviews the animated film sequel Appleseed: Ex-Machina, which is actually produced by John Woo.

- The Daily Yomiuri also has an interview with Appleseed director Shinji Aramaki, who complains that Hayao Miyazaki should be more proud of his Oscar (for Spirited Away).

The Golden Rock - October 19th, 2007 Edition

Today is a public holiday in Hong Kong, so no box office reports. However, from unscientific research (looking at the ticket sales on the internet and from my observation last night at the cinema), it’ll be between Derek Chiu’s Brothers (Four of the five tigers in one film! Review later on the spin-off) and the Japanese drama adaptation Hero. Andy Lau says he’s hoping for $HK8-10 million total gross. Can they pull it off over the holiday weekend? We shall know on Monday.

And now, your daily Lust, Caution news:

- EastSouthWestNorth has some stories about Lust, Caution’s Mainland release, including the fact that you don’t have to trek all the way to Hong Kong to see THE shot and how even the man who’s supposed to protect copyright in China can’t even believe there’s no pirated copy of the film out there.

Back to reality:

- The Tokyo International Film Festival is just getting underway, but don’t expect lots of reporting about the market there, especially when the tepid Asian Film Market just wrapped up a week ago at Pusan. More tomorrow when we get the news from The Daily Yomiuri.

- Twitch reports that Johnnie To’s Mad Detective, starring Lau Ching-Wan, has been bought up by the Independent Film Channel in North America. They will likely release the film in a small limited release before releasing it on DVD. Don’t take my word for it, though; I only said “likely”.

- It was much ado about nothing as an Indian court has officially dismissed a lawsuit challenging Eklavya’s entry to the Academy Awards.

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for another shortened entry for The Golden Rock.

The Golden Rock - October 18th, 2007 Edition

Three slow news days automatically add up to a slow news week in general. That means shorter entries. Expect short weekend entries if this keeps up. I may just post something in the spin-off instead.

- Lust, Caution’s chances at the Oscars has just decreased by quite a bit, as the Academy Awards foreign films committee disqualifies Ang Lee’s erotic drama as the Taiwanese entry because it’s not Taiwan enough. Essentially, the main gripe is that it doesn’t have enough Taiwanese involvement. That must suck for Lee, seeing that his Chinese movie for westerners, also known as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, manages to win best foreign film, while his Chinese movie for Chinese people gets disqualified.

Taiwan will submit Island Etude in its place.

- In another blow to the film (this ought to be the unofficial Lust, Caution blog), Chinese censors have apparently yet to screen the Mainland Chinese-safe version of the film, which means its November 1st opening date may get pushed further back. Meanwhile, pirated copies have finally gotten online, which may hurt the big chunk of change the film expected to make from the region.

- Meanwhile, Twitch has another update for the latest omnibus-film-in-a-city film Tokyo!. Apparently, Korean director Bong Joon-Ho’s section is done filming, with Michel Gondry’s getting ready to shoot later in the month. No idea when third director Leos Carax will be filming his, though.

Original Tokyograph story.

- Poor Twitch contributor Blake only got two questions with Park Chan-Wook because what was supposed to be a one-on-one interview became a roundtable with people asking about ridiculous rumors such as whether Park took a 5-year break to train being an astronaut. At least now you know he’s making a bat film for his next project.

- DVDTalk has a review for the American DVD of Kazuaki Kiriya’s Casshern, which boasts a so-called “director’s cut” that’s 25 minute shorter than the original Japanese cut. According to some poster on imdb, the DVD is missing not only scene selections, but the subtitles are also off-sync, and important bits are cut out.

- It’s no news, but Japan’s DVD market is still suffering, as sales for the first half year are down 2% from the same period last year.

The Golden Rock - October 16th, 2007 Edition.

There are days like these where there are so little news, I just decide to combine all the entries together.

- The numbers for the Japanese box office came out, and the rankings are pretty much the same as the admission rankings. However, what the rankings don’t tell you is what a quiet week it was. In fact, only one film made more than 100 million yen (number 1 film Hero), and the rest of the holdovers all saw fairly significant drops. Yes, that includes Closed Note, which is supposed to be doing pretty well, but actually doesn’t look to make that 1.5 billion yen mark Toho is setting.

Signs of Love (based on those Dreams Come True songs) actually lost only 25% of its audience in its second week, which is pretty typical in the pure love genre. It should wrap up with about 800 million yen. Not all that impressive, but it is what it is.

- Thanks to the success of Hero, Japanese distributor Toho is having their best September ever, which means expect more TV dramas going to a big screen near you in Japan.

- Two sites reported on the Sushi Ouji movie, so I’ll just use both links. Essentially, the drama that was the second worst-performer in the primetime ratings in the summer 2007 drama season (average 7.5 rating) was announced to have its own movie before the drama even began its broadcast. But now, TV Asahi has Warner Bros. Japan behind them and is planning to release it during next year’s Golden Week. They’re probably hoping for fans of the two stars’ respective boy groups to show up.

Tokyograph report.

Variety Asia report.

- The only reason I saved up this report was because I thought it was Tsai as in Tsai Chin.

Turns out it’s Jolin Tsai that’s doing a duet with Kylie Minogue in the Asian edition of her latest album. Actually, it would be so much more interesting if Tsai Chin, the songstress who brought us this, do a duet with Kylie Minogue, but that’s just what I think.

- Variety’s Richard Kuiper has a review for the highly successful Japanese animated film Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone.

- The Associated Press has an interview with Joan Chen, who’s been in the spotlight of recent Chinese cinema with her roles in Lust, Caution and The Sun Also Rises.

- Asian films are the big winners at this year’s Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia, including wins for Park Chan-Wook’s “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” and even Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django.

- The first still for the Pan-Asian film Blood: The Last Vampire, starring Gianna “Sassy Girl” Jun is up. Todd Brown says yes, I say no, thank you.

The Golden Rock - October 15th, 2007 Edition

- The new drama season started in Japan last week (Fall 2007 drama information from Tokyograph), and Iryu 2, the sequel to the hit drama from Spring 2006, got off to an excellent start with a 21 rating on the ratings chart. Meanwhile, Dream Again, starring Takashi “Genghis Khan” Sorimachi could only score a 12.9 rating for its premiere. Another star who might not be such a star is Masami Nagasawa, as her latest drama Hatachi No Koibito got only a 13.5 rating for its first episode. More premieres to come this coming week, so look for a slightly more comprehensive wrap-up next week. It all depends how tired I’ll be, really.

Now, the wrap-up from Pusan International Film Festival:

- The competition section of Pusan, called New Currents, actually has the least well-known films. This is probably because the jury tends to pick heavy art films with social messages, and Variety reports that history has repeated again this year.

- Meanwhile, it seems like the Asian Film Market was pretty quiet in terms of sales, with distributors sending people to just look as opposed to buy.

- Despite the festival running into obstacles and just being generally bland this year, the attendance was still record-breaking.

And now, back to your regular news:

- Wong Kar-Wai was supposed to make a biopic about Bruce Lee’s master and it was supposed to star Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, who reportedly spend the last few years getting physically prepared for the role. However, his 5-year rights is expiring and Raymond Wong’s Mandarin Films (who last made the Donnie Yen lovefest Flash Point) is stepping in and make their own film about Bruce Lee’s master.

This is in addition to the planned film by Fruit Chan about two childhood friends in 1950s Hong Kong who split up on their own roads, one of them being Bruce Lee.

- The teaser trailer is out for the Hollywood remake of the Pang Brothers’ The Eye, and I guess it looks blah.

- Also, the second trailer for Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly is online. I use Firefox, so I haven’t watched it, and I’ll probably watch the movie when it comes out anyway.

- In not-so-pleasant news for the blogging community, the Chinese government is continuing its crackdown of the internet ahead of the party congress.

- And yet, they decided to allow a shorter version of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, which was edited by Lee himself and is a few minutes longer than the Malaysian version, to play nationwide starting November 1st. Can someone tell me whether Lam Ka Tung makes an appearance at the end of the Mainland version? Someone who’s seen both Infernal Affairs and Lust, Caution should get this.

- Then again, despite the film having done very well in Asian territories, audiences in China may very well not even get what “the bad guy” in the movie does.

- China may seem pretty bad, but then the head of the Thai ministry of culture came out and pretty much says: 1) Thai audiences are not educated, and 2) just because said audience doesn’t understand a movie, it should be be classified and/or banned.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 10/15/2007

- In Hong Kong, Lust, Caution wins the Sunday box office yet again, making HK$1.25 million from 52 screens for a 19-day total of HK$30.06 million. Not only has Ang Lee’s erotic thriller now become the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year in Hong Kong, it is also now the highest-grossing category-III film (no one under 18 admitted) in Hong Kong history.

In the rest of the box office, the Hollywood romantic drama No Reservations is the strongest of the newcomers, making HK$340,000 from 28 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.19 million. Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney, did only ok (for a film of its kind, that is) with HK$200,000 from 17 screens for a 4-day HK$700,000 total.

Now we’re down to the disappointments - Kenneth Bi’s well-meaning but disappointing drama The Drummer made only HK$60,000 from 18 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$210,000. HK$30,000 of those came from opening day. Ouch. Death Sentence, starring Kevin Bacon, had a Drummer-like per-screen average and made only HK$40,000 from 12 screens for a 4-day total of HK$160,000.

In holdovers, Resident Evil 3 had a pretty solid second weekend with HK$600,000 from 36 screens on Sunday. After 11 days, the horror-action flick has made HK$8.95 million. Oxide Pang’s The Detective continues its slow fade with only HK$90,000 from 18 screens for a 18-day total of HK$5.22 million. Sadly, Wong Jing’s Beauty and the Seven Beasts had a higher per-screen average with HK$70,000 from 8 screens. Its 19-day total is only HK$2.88 million.

- In Korean box office, it was such a slow week that even The Nanny Diaries and Becoming Jane made the top 10. Hur Jin-Ho’s Happiness leads the chart again. Can anyone tell me whether it was any good?

- In Japanese box office, no numbers yet, but the audience ranking says that Closed Note is still doing quite well (despite never having made it to the top spot), Peter Berg’s The Kingdom made second place, and people are actually still going to watch A Perfect Stranger. Scary. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen