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Archive for November, 2007

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 11/20/07

- Those Hong Kong Sunday box office numbers are out, and at least two of my predictions were correct. Beowulf did indeed take the top spot with a strong HK$1 million from 40 screens, although the IMAX and 3D showings, which account for at least 4 screens in Hong Kong, are charging people double the money for the film. The animated film has a respectable 4-day total of HK$3.72 million.

I was right about Bullet and Brain, which didn’t see any significant rise in box office with a HK$210,000 take from 27 screens on Sunday, making its weekend take HK$940,000. This caused it to be bumped to 4th place, thanks to a dramatic increase for Tokyo Tower (HK$330,000 from 13 screens with no ticket price inflation for a 4-day total of HK$1.06 million) and the continuing strong showing by Lust, Caution. With another HK$250,000 from 31 screens in the bank, Ang Lee’s erotic espionage drama managed to cross the HK$45 million line on Sunday.

Derek Kwok’s The Pye-Dog (which I saw today and sadly was not blown away by) did slightly better during the weekend with just HK$130,000 from 28 screens on Sunday. After 4 days, the character drama with Eason Chan has made only HK$750,000, including previews. The weekend’s other limited release is David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises did OK, with HK$62,000 from 5 screens on Sunday for a 4-day take of HK$200,000. I’m contemplating whether to go watch it as I type now.


- Japanese box office figures also came out from Box Office Mojo. At roughly the same exchange rate from last week (anything less than a 1 yen-difference would be considered roughly the same around here), The Sky of Love dropped by only a modest 23%. It’s set to pass the 2 billion yen mark probably by yesterday, and on par to pass the 3 billion yen mark as well. Meanwhile, now I realized that I screwed up with reading the rankings yesterday and reported that Always 2 is at 3rd place. With a drop of 34%, the hit sequel is actually at 2nd place with a current total of 2.19 billion yen and will definitely surpass the first film’s gross.

With a drop of 44%, I may be wrong about The Bourne Ultimatum being a big hit, but at least I’ll be right about it passing the 1 billion yen-mark. A number someone should verify is the screen count of the Yakusho Koji starrer Zo No Naka. Somehow, the film managed to lose 260 screens and now has a huge per-screen average.

The Golden Rock - November 19th, 2007 Edition, plus Box Office Report

Usually, I would separate the box office report into its own entry, but there are so little news out there that I decided to cram both into one

- Since my usual box office source hasn’t updated its latest box office figures, we’ll just have to predict what’s going to happen when someone updates some figures. Thursday opening day figures put Beowulf on top with a solid-but-unspectacular HK$630,000 on 40 screens. However, I have no idea whether that includes the 3D and IMAX numbers. Nevertheless, it should do sizable business over the weekend, despite its final gross now dependent on word-of-mouth.

The Wong Jing-written/produced action flick Bullet & Brain managed to make HK$200,000 from 27 screens, which means it might stay at second place. Of course, that would only happen if Tokyo Tower doesn’t see a jump from a fairly strong opening day gross of HK$146,000 from 12 screens. There’s also Lust, Caution, which is heading to the HK$45 million mark and may have already reached it by today.

Down for the count is Derek Kwok’s The Pye-Dog. Despite the “we have a good movie on our hands!” advertising campaign (which is actually true, according to the boss), the film only made HK$80,000 on 28 screens and looks to disappear from Hong Kong screens by next week. We’ll leave everything else for when the numbers come out.

- In Japanese attendance rankings, the teen relationship drama Sky of Love takes the top spot again, with Resident Evil III, Always 2, and Bourne Ultimatum holding on to their spots. But don’t let the rankings fool you, though: Bourne Ultimatum’s opening is actually 124% of the original’s and 158% of the second film, so expect it to be an over-1 billion yen hit. The only new entry is Saw 4 at 7th place, which is on par with the franchise’s take in Japan.

- In South Korean box office, Le Grand Chef tops the box office for a third week in a row, Once is a limited release hit,  Seven Days couldn’t get the huge opening it might’ve wanted, and a Korean film with 400-screen release could only muster a 5th place opening.

Korea Pop Wars also has a write-up of the October music charts, except I don’t listen to Korean music and have no idea who those artists are.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Not much has changed in the fall 2007 - Galileo is still a big hit with a 22.9 rating average, Iryu 2 is now slumming in the mid-10’s (although it rebounded to a 17.6 from 15 rating last week), and Hatachi No Koibito continues its seemingly endless freefall, hopefully without dragging down Masami Nagasawa’s career along with it. At least Yukie Nakama’s Joshi Deka is keeping it company with its own failing ratings, and Dream Again featuring Takashi Sorimachi managed a small rebound just when it seems to be going down that path as well.

The hit network of the season is again Fuji TV, who not only has Galileo, but also the Saturday 11pm drama SP, which has been scoring in the mid-10s, a fairly impressive figure in that time slot. Then again, who wouldn’t want to watch a drama that has an end credit sequence that starts with a slow-motion jump kick done to a boy band pop ballad on Saturday night at 11 pm?

(Check out Tokyograph for all drama sypnosis)

-  On the other hand, TBS has the biggest flops of the season, which doesn’t look too good for a network that has experienced a decline in advertising income for the first half of the fiscal year (which started in April).

Two Chinese TV stations are jointly producing a 100-episode animated series based on Confucius’ life. I hope at the end the philosopher doesn’t come to a realization that media censorship and communism are great things.

- Bae Yong-Joon has suffered an injury while filming a big fight scene for his hit drama Taewangsasingi that he’s currently “treating” with painkillers and tape supports because of the tight shooting schedule. Despite his reputation, Yong-sama still sounds like a bad ass.

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 11/18/2007

This week’s song of the week was originally heard on Khalil Fong’s excellent live album. He called this song “a rare touching but simple” English song. From the 1996 album Urban Hang Suite, it’s Maxwell’s Whenever Wherever Whatever.

The Golden Rock - November 18th, 2007 Edition

- Courtesy of Twitch, the first real teaser for the Death Note spinoff Change the WorLd is now out with actual clips from the movie. However, it won’t be released until February 9th in Japan, so I guess it’s too early to get excited about what’s on screen. Then again, my Japanese isn’t that good.

- In “they’re getting ahead of themselves” news today, America’s Summit Entertainment bought up the remake rights for the Korean film Seven Days, about a lawyer who must save a man on death row to save her own daughter, before it even opened in Korea. Sounds like a derivative thriller only Hollywood can make, so why don’t they just make the damn thing themselves? Oh, wait….

- It’s reviews time! Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the low-budget V-Cinema film Sundome, which actually managed to get play in a hip Shibuya theater.

- Grady Hendrix writes about the current media situation in Pakistan during the current government repression. Case in point: they’re still releasing the country’s exploitation gory horror film.

- The Daily Yomiuri’s weekly Teleview column bashes the hell out of flopping drama Joshi Deka and writes about the sad sad ways Japanese comedians can make money through spelling simple English.

- According to usual Tony Jaa collaborator director Prachya Pinkaew, him and the action star had a falling out, and their future collaborations have been canceled. Did Pinkaew get pissed because Jaa’s directorial debut Ong Bak 2 has even less story than Ong Bak 1?

- The MTV concert series unplugged is finally going to China. Too bad I have no idea who the hell those two first artists are, and we know that Cantopop tend to suck too much to attract that kind of talent.

- Actress Rie Miyazawa talks about her latest film with the Daily Yomiuri. Miyazawa plays a woman who works with her late husband’s apprentice to keep a small town theatre running in the 1950s after the husband’s death.

The Golden Rock - November 16th, 2007 Edition

Unlike many websites out there, The Golden Rock usually updates on the weekend. However, it mostly involves spreading whatever news we can find on Friday and spreading them out over three days. That’s why we’re starting our (mostly) daily posts on a Friday.

- Twitch has a link to the first footage from the Jet Li-Jackie Chan Hollywood White-kid-magically-goes-to-China-to-save-the-world-and-woos-Chinese-girl family flick The Forbidden Kingdom. You have Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and you still need them on wire-fu? That can’t be good.

- When I was studying in Japan, one of my favorite magazines was Tokyo Walker, a comprehensive magazine that doesn’t have any celebrity gossips and simply offer stuff for non-essential self-indulgent urban living. Imagine my pleasant surprise this morning when I found ads all over the MTR this morning for the new Hong Kong Walker. Coming out next week, I’ll be sure to give everyone a look. Why? Because Stephen Chow is the cover man, and he’ll be talking more about his latest A Hope for the inaugural issue.

- After the success of the Death Note series in Japan, Warner Bros. Japan is planning to get more involved in production and development of films in Japan in order to boost the sale of remake rights to Hollywood. One of the films they’ve got going, according to the report, is the latest from Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori “Ichi.” However, the introduction says that actress Haruka Ayase will be playing the role of the blind swordswoman. The problem is that Haruka Ayase looks like this:


It’s going to be a little hard to buy her as a blind swordswoman.

- With lax copyright law, many young Koreans are now watching movies downloaded on their computer. However, this isn’t your typical illegal Bittorrent movies - these “peer-to-peer” clubs are actually paid and still very illegal. What the hell’s the point to pay to watch illegal movies?

- The Tokyo International Film Festival has found a new head, but make your own damn pun about the man’s name.

The Golden Rock - Box Office Report - An Introduction

One of the most consistent features of this blog is the box office reports - first it just started as the opener for every entry, and now it belongs in its own section. To this day, I cannot explain why analyzing box office figures is such a big thing for me, though I think it has something to do with box office numbers getting misread all the time. For example, just because a movie opened at 8th place doesn’t necessarily means it’s bad. If the movie opened at 8th place on just 5 screens with a US$200,000 per-screen average, that’s an amazing opening. On the other hand, if your movie opened on 3000 screens with just a US$1,500 per-screen average, not so amazing.

Since I never went in-depth into what all those box office numbers mean, I’ll take the opportunity to do this after only getting 3 hours of sleep. Hopefully all those screen counts and whatnot would make a bit of sense in the future:

Hong Kong:

Screens: Roughly 150 (much of them from multiplexes)

Exchange rate: HK$7.8=$1. This is solid, trust me. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the United States dollars.

Measure of success: HK$10 million.

I live in Hong Kong, so my analysis of Hong Kong box office will always be more detailed. In this city, a usual wide release would be anything that opens on more than 20 screens and under 45 screens. A major blockbuster, of course, would get a lot more screens (Spiderman 3 got 105 at one point). Many films used to go past the HK$10 million point back then, but this is the post-BT post-pirated VCD world, so 10 million’s a high enough bar to set.

If you look at the top 10 right now, only two films are past the HK$10 million mark: Lust, Caution at HK$43.65 million and Brothers at HK$11.15 million. They’re both hits, and everything else is probably not until we look at their release pattern and their per-screen average.

For example, and this is not from the chart, a movie opens on just 4 screens. The basic standard for an “ok” per-screen average is at least HK$10,000. For this 4-screen release film, it should at least have HK$80,000 for that day’s box office take to be considered good.


Screens: roughly a few thousand

Exchange rate: 110-120 yen=US$1. It jumps often, which is why I often report the figures in yen instead of dollars.

Measure of success: 1 billion yen.

Japan is the second-biggest market in the world for Hollywood films, and it’s pretty clear why: They charge people 1800 yen a ticket, and Japan has more people than The United Kingdom. Here, the success of a film can be hard to determined because first there’s an attendance ranking out (whose actual figures I believe should be incorporated for all box office charts), then I rely on Box Office Mojo’s figures for percentage drops and per-screen averages.

That method has two problems: 1) There are discrepancies between the attendance ranking and the Box Office Mojo numbers because films that attract kids and older audiences often mean less money is earned because their tickets are 300 yen cheaper (that’s roughly 3 dollars per person, which makes a difference). So a kids’ film would rank high on attendance, but may drop a place or two in the chart with numbers; 2) Box Office Mojo’s exchange rate changes every week, which means I have to calculate everything back to yen to get an accurate number.

In Japan, anything around 100-350 screens would be considered a wide release. However, they tend to put foreign films for wider release (Spiderman 3 for a crazy 700-screen release), while the biggest live-action Japanese wide release is Hero at 475 screens. Also, while per-screen average can be high at US$10,000, remember that’s partly because the ticket prices are so damn high. That’s why we have blogs like Eiga Consultant, who sometimes look at actual attendance record for smaller limited releases.

South Korea

Screens: Roughly 1800 (according to Korea Pop Wars)

Measure of success: 1.5-2 million admissions

I started following South Korean box office when crossing the one million admissions mark was considered record-breaking, which should tell you how much Korean films have changed over the years. Now, a film has to get to at least 1.5 million admissions to be considered a genuine success. And if you have a blockbuster on your hands, it better gets past the 2 million mark - even D-War got to 8.4 million admissions, people.

I don’t track South Korean box office very much because I don’t know the language, I’ve never been to the country, and Mark Russell’s Korea Pop Wars already covers it well enough that I don’t have to go too much into detail about the figures.

Now, this is the part where I’m asking for help. I would like to start tracking Taiwan box office numbers, so I’m hoping a kind reader out there can help me out with a Chinese site with actual Taiwan box office figures. Also, what’s the measure of success, and a rough total screen count figure.

Then again, I figure many of you out there may not care, but it never hurts to be comprehensive.

Next time: Hopefully some real news reporting

The Golden Rock - Resurrection Edition

This may be the first time many of you are reading The Golden Rock, which would mean 1) It’ll take a while before you find out my poor musical taste, 2) It’ll take a while before you find out my expert typo skills, 3) How lazy I can get when I get really lazy, and 4) I may have a lot of time on my hands.

Essentially, what this blog does for you is the role of a news aggregator. I look at tons of blogs and RSS feeds so you don’t have to. Plus, I might know more Chinese and Japanese than you, which is supposed to give me a slight advantage. Then again, so do many of you.

A typical post would probably include many sections like this:

- China’s CCTV will broadcast two and a half hours of live footage from the set of John Woo’s The Battle of Red Cliff. Knowing a thing or two about filmmaking, that means it’ll be at least two combined hours of setting up shots and only half hour of them shooting different angles of the same scene. In other words, I can just go to school for that. Plus, hasn’t it been proven that the general public don’t care about filmmaking?

So the link means you click on it to see the actual report, and you would want to do that because as you can tell, each section includes more smart-ass comments than actual news reporting. As a mass communication in college, I can tell you that’s what a blog is for. If you want unbiased news reporting, so watch the BBC. Nevertheless, I can guarantee that I don’t report and make smart-ass comments on things I don’t know about, and I don’t assume that my word is the word of all (*clears throat*). In fact, I’ll even ask you readers out there for some help, though that has never quite worked out in the past. Hell, I’ll be happy if this blog gets more than 100 readers a day.

Let’s let it start here. Next time, I’ll explain what a box office post is, and I’ll eventually find time to get to a real post. If you’re still reading by then, I owe you an e-drink.

The Golden Rock - November 9th, 2007 Edition

- Earlier in the week I wrote that the Japanese film Always 2 opened at 150% of its sequel’s opening. Thanks to Eiga Consultant, I now realize I was wrong. At 550 million yen, its opening is actually 256% of the original’s opening, which means if the word-of-mouth holds up, Always 2 may be heading for the 5 billion yen mark to become the second-biggest film of the year behind Hero.

- Speaking of Always 2, the Daily Yomiuri devotes some time to the blockbuster sequel, first with what seems like a pseudo-review for the film, then with a short feature on star Hidetaka Yoshioka.

- Under “big TV network exploits small town troubles” news today, Japanese network TBS will produce a drama about the troubles of Yubari, Hokkaido when the town literally went bankrupt. Who knows? Maybe it might turn out good. It probably won’t.

- The Academy has announced their final list of qualified films for the best animated film awards - Japan’s Tekkonkinkreet and the Hong Kong-produced TMNT are on that final list. Note that this does not mean they are now Oscar-nominated films; it just means they may be.

- In more Imagi news, the Hong Kong animation firm has acquired screenplay rights for Fluorescent Black, an original story that will first be adapted as a “graphic novel” before becoming an animated film. This is the first Imagi project that isn’t based on an established story.

- Lust, Caution is not only a commercial hit in Mainland China, the censored version, which still has several nudity-less sex scenes, has touched off a massive internet debate about sexuality on screen and even Mainland censorship.

- Speaking of Chinese censorship, the Canadian Broadcasting Company has reportedly pulled a documentary on the persecution of Falun Gong members in China after pressure from Chinese diplomats. It’s hard to believe that Canada has to be afraid of China when Hong Kong police don’t even stop Falun Gong demonstrators from putting up a huge sign saying “Destroy the Chinese Communist Party” in the middle of the busiest district in Hong Kong.

- In Hong Kong, director Christopher Nolan says that he did not take out a scene in which Batman jumps into Victoria Harbor due to pollution, but because of a script change. In fact, he said he would have no problems dumping actors into pollution anyway. Christian Bale must be thanking someone that it didn’t happen.

- Independent Korean directors are celebrating the opening of Indie Space, the first theater in South Korea dedicated to showing Korean independent feature films and short films.

- The Yomiuri’s Teleview column writes about the role of the middle-aged people working in Japanese television.

The Golden Rock will be going away for a few days. This blogger will be shooting his final project this weekend while some administrative stuff gets taken care of. We’ll be back on Monday, when we might have a little surprise.

The Golden Rock - November 7th, 2007 Edition

- It’s Oricon charts time! Mr. Children scores their 27th consecutive number 1 single this week, while Glay’s latest EP could only get a 2nd place debut. As for the album chart, The Backstreet Boys’ comeback album manages to hold on to the top spot for the second week in a row, as Seamo’s latest manages a second place debut with 56,000 in sales. Go read more at Tokyograph.

- Despite delays and 7 minutes of cuts (though some of the sex scenes remain), Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution is a hit in China and is expected to surpass the distributor’s forecast for its final gross. It’s even made people discuss film sexuality, though it couldn’t avoid the juvenile “shameless actors will do anything for money!” comments.

- As for South Korea, October 2007 box office is down 33% from October 2006. Before someone screams “piracy,” a possible explanation for the drop is because the Chuseok holiday occurred in September this year.

- It’s reviews time! Variety’s Derek Elley actually manages to survive the Mainland Chinese comedy Contract Lover and lives to tell about it. Elley also reviews Taiwan’s Academy Awards best foreign film entry Island Etude (also known as “the movie that replaced Lust, Caution”). Then Russell Edwards caught the hit “cell phone novel” adaptation Koizora (Sky of Love) at Tokyo International Film Festival.

Elsewhere, Lovehkfilm’s Kozo offers up reviews of the Hong Kong “relay” film Triangle, the small Hong Kong film Magic Boy, and the hit Japanese drama adaptation film Hero. Meanwhile, Sanjuro offers up reviews of another Japanese drama adaptation Unfair: The Movie and the Korean summer horror hit Black House.

- Both Ryuganji and Jason Gray write about the latest controversy regarding Toho actually asking people to give a standing ovation for the cast at an opening day event for the Japanese film Always 2. This comes after Toho had a PR nightmare on their hands when Erika Sawajiri ridiculed her latest film Closed Note at a similar event.

Jason Gray coverage
Ryuganji coverage

- The fifth Bangkok World Film Festival is over, and the Austrian film Import/Export won best film, while Taiwanese art film Help Me Eros managed to earn the special jury prize.

- Did I enjoy the comic adaptation film Honey and Clover? Not greatly. Was it a really big hit? Not really. That’s not stopping Fuji TV from bringing it to the drama world next season on Tuesdays at 9pm. Maybe it’d be better off there.

- With the possible exception of 28 Weeks Later, Fox Atomic hasn’t released one movie that can be considered “good.” However, that’s not stopping them from becoming the first Hollywood studio to produce a movie in South Korea. This one doesn’t sound any good, either.

- Under “Hong Kong people just like to complain, complain, complain” news today, after Batman realized Victoria Harbor’s water is too toxic to jump into, environmental groups and some tenants are complaining the producers’ request to keep the lights on at night for buildings along the waterfront.

To answer the group Green Sense: No, you cannot just “turn on” lights at night through post-production because there’s no light on the buildings themselves. For a group named “Green Sense,” you certainly don’t have much “common sense.”

- Under “most dubiously interesting idea” news today, Japan’s NTV is planning a “blog drama,” in which the path of a TV drama will be decided by fans who contribute to the drama’s blog.

The Golden Rock - November 6th, 2007 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Galileo saw another small decline in its 3rd week, though it’s still very strong at 21.3 rating (yes, I realize that the 4th week has already been shown, and we’ll look at that next week). Fuji’s 3rd Saturday 11pm drama SP premiered to a fairly strong 14.5 rating, which makes it the strongest premiere ratings for that time slot (Liar Game premiered at 12.3 and Life premiered at a 11 rating.). The challenge now is whether word-of-mouth will carry like the previous two dramas have.

Meanwhile, Iryu 2 rebounded slightly to a 15.8 for the 4th week, Hatachi No Koibito dipped all the way to a 7.4 rating, Joshi Deka continues its fall to an 8.4 rating for its 3rd week, but Takashi Sorimachi’s Dream Again does manage to rebound slightly to a 10.0 rating in its 4th week.

All Japanese drama information on Tokyograph

- In American Film Market news, both buyers and sellers are complaining about the slow start. This is, of course, due to the constant stream of film markets happening not only in Asia, but also in Rome.

Meanwhile, since I’m a Hong Kong blogger, why would I not include a link about a panel on Hong Kong? Of course, it’s going to be about lots and lots of co-productions.

- Then in your daily Andrew Lau news, the Weinstein Company decides to give Lau another Hollywood movie to work on, even though his first Hollywood movie hasn’t even been released in Hong Kong.

Sorry this is a truncated version of the usual posts, despite having lots of news out there. We’ll try to do things more normally tomorrow. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen