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Archive for December, 2007

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 12/10/07

- The Hong Kong Sunday numbers are out (seemingly coming out earlier and earlier after went down for good), and Mad Detective takes the weekend again. It didn’t see a very big drop, as the Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai film made another HK$806,000 from 36 screens on Sunday for an 11-day total of HK$8.55 million. It’s extremely likely that the film will pass the HK$10 million mark, making it Milkyway’s most successful film since the Election flicks, which were also the last Milkyway category III (no one under 18 admitted) films.

In Love With the Dead, the latest from Danny Pang (of the Pang Brothers), also managed to hang on to second place in the second weekend. However, it only made HK$290,000 from 31 screens on Sunday for an 11-day total of HK$4.29 million. It will likely wrap up its run with a take similar to brother Oxide’s The Detective (I predicted last week that it wouldn’t). More astonishing is the staying power of the Japanese tearjerker Tokyo Tower, which made another HK$220,000 from 12 screens for a 25-day total of HK$4.56 million. With steady word-of-mouth, it may even surpass the Hong Kong gross for Kimura Takuya’s Hero when it’s all over. Meanwhile, the Hollywood comedy The Heartbreak Kid is also enjoying a healthy run as it stays in 3rd place on Sunday with HK$247,000 from 25 screens for an 18-day gross of HK$5.15 million.

The weekend’s only opener on the top 10 is Robert Benton’s Feast of Love, which did OK with HK$124,000 from 10 screens for a 4-day total of HK$450,000. Golden Horse winner Lust, Caution is still alive and well with HK$133,000 from 10 screens on Sunday for a 75-day total of HK$47.65 million, inching ever-so-slowly to HK$48 million. Still, I don’t expect it to pass the HK$50 million mark. Lastly, Andrew Lau’s Hollywood debut The Flock made just HK$42,000 from 16 screens for a 11-day total of just HK$650,000.

Speaking of Hong Kong directors in Hollywood, the Hong Kong Film blog actually mentions that Hong Kong directors’ Hollywood debut don’t fare well in Hong Kong anyway. For instance:

John Woo’s Hard Target - HK$2.56 million

Ringo Lam’s Maximum Risk - HK$2.38 million

Tsui Hark’s Double Team - HK$3.79 million

Ronny Yu’s Warriors of Virtue - HK$430,000

Kirk Wong’s The Big Hit - HK$1.32 million

Peter Chan’s Love Letter - HK$870,000

and of course, to add my own figures - The Pang Brothers’ The Messengers made around HK$4-5 million earlier in the year.

- In South Korea, the Hollywood family flick August Rush (partly financed by CJ Entertainment) made the top spot again, now with 826,000 admissions after two weekends. Lust, Caution continues to roll with over 1.6 million admissions, and expected to continue growing after its wins at the Golden Horse Awards. More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- In Japanese attendance charts, Always 2 have been bumped off its number 1 spot to third place by the new family film A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies (A family film with dogs in natural disasters), while Koizora stays at number 2.  Everything below that moves down one place. We’ll see how much business they lost in a day or two.

The Golden Rock - December 8th, 2007 Edition

- It’s reviews time! Japan Times’ Mark Schilling looks at Yoshimitsu Morita’s remake of Tsubaki Sanjuro, which he says passes the grade, though Kurosawa did it better. Twitch’s Todd Brown reviews Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second, which I loved even when I saw the trailer. I might review this when I have the time.

I don’t know if it counts as a review, but Daily Yomiuri has a report about the hit Japanese teen romance Koizora, though it seems like a hybrid of a plot description and a film review. The fact that my girlfriend hated the original “cell phone novel” doesn’t seem promising to me.

- The Korea Export Insurance Corp. will apparently now offer partial compensation through an export insurance policy for films targeted at an international market and/or has secured pre-sale deals that flops. I assume D-War doesn’t need that insurance.

- Japanese short film Frank Kafka’s A Country Doctor by Koji Yamamura picks up the Grand Prize at the animation festival I Castelli Animati in Italy.

- This weekend in Japan is the first film festival to feature films made entirely on cell phones. I expect the whole festival either to be on very small screens or on big screens filled with pixelated images.

- Somewhat related is the Daily Yomiuri’s Wm Penn pointing out the importance of cell phones in Japanese dramas this past year, including rescue tool, romantic triangle symbol, and character coding device.

- According to the official website,  Stephen Chow’s latest CJ7 is opening in North America 2 weeks earlier than Hong Kong. I know they want to open it in time for Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, but what’s up with that?

- If you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to check out the Toho Festival, featuring old Japanese monster flicks 4 weeks in a row!

- Japan Times’ David McNeill has a 2-part feature on the slew of films looking at the Nanjing Massacre this year from Chinese, Japanese, and Western perspective. Too bad the only Japanese perspective one seems like it might be a right-wing nut job (Seeing how “Japanese people don’t mistreat corpses like that, it is not in our culture” isn’t exactly the best evidence against the massacre). Then again, it’s not like the Chinese ones are going to be completely fair either.

Stay reading for the blog’s live coverage of the Golden Horse Awards.

The Golden Rock - Golden Horse Awards live report

The following is a minute-by-minute recap of the entire Golden Horse Awards as it plays on Hong Kong TV live. However, I missed the first half hour. But that’s OK - The show was over 4 hours long anyway.

8:00pm - Shit, I already missed half an hour of the awards, and the short documentary award only has two nominees.

I also don’t understand much Mandarin. Good thing the Hong Kong TV station has two on-air commentators to translate the important stuff.

8:02pm - Why is there a host standing on the side at all times?

8:06pm - That podium lady is actually interacting with the presenters. Is this a variety show?

8:08pm - These two guys have been onstage for 3 minutes, and I still don’t know what they’re presenting.

8:10pm - Best supporting actor! Which undeserving nominee will win?

8:11 pm - Tony Leung Ka-Fai wins for The Drummer/leftover footage from Election. He didn’t show up to recreate his dog-throwing scene in the film.

8:17pm - OK, I missed the Best Supporting Actress award, which went to Fan Bing-Bing for The Matrimony.

Oh shit, Kelly Chen is trying to sing classic show tunes in Chinese. Back to writing a real entry.

8:23pm - Well, that was less painful that the opening promised to be.

Whoa, a new podium lady.

8:26pm - a supermodel boasts that she’s been to Cannes a ton of times to suck up to Taiwan. zzzzzzzz…..

8:28pm - What On Earth Have I Done Wrong just picked up an international critics award.

8:35pm - These presenters seem familiar……didn’t they present the short film awards? Are they the official “not important awards” presenters?

8:36pm - OK, it’s Best Art Direction time, and it’s the first category where Lust, Caution shows up……and the awards goes to: The Detective???!!!! That means Aaron Kwok may just stand a chance.

8: 38pm - Best Makeup-Costume Design, no Hong Kong film, and Lust, Caution’s second chance…….and the award goes to: Lust, Caution, now picking up its first award of the night.

8:42pm - Best Sound Effects. Annie Liu forgets that Titanic is a disaster film and calls in a romance film. Yes, a romance film about a big-ass iceberg that kills hundreds of people.

Anyway, the award goes to: The Most Distant Course.

8:48pm - Best Editing, and Lust, Caution’s third chance…..the award goes to: The Sun Always Rises.

It seems like only half the awards actually see its recipients show up to claim the awards.

8:56pm - The Lifetime Achievement Award for Edward Yang, but ATV cuts off half of it for bad commercials?

8:57pm - Hou Hsiao-Hsien presents the award. At least he wore a suit instead of this:


8:59pm - And ATV cuts off Hou Hsiao-Hsien to change broadcast to its English channel in order to show some band awards in the Cantonese channel. That was abrupt.

9:04pm - 4 minutes into the coverage, and a commercial break already. This is a long night.

9:08pm - OK, music awards. but we know Jay Chou isn’t going to be performing his Best Original Song nominee because he’s in Hong Kong performing right this minute.

9:09pm - Podium Lady with Feather on Head returns.

9:10pm - OK, some other Taiwanese pop singer sings Jay Chou’s song……and sings it better.

9:15pm - Holy shit, he pulled off Shu Qi’s song from Blood Brothers… Shu Qi’s key.

9:21pm - OK, time for the award. The Best Original Song award goes to: Jay Chou’s song for Secret. Lyricist Vincent Fang shows up for the award.

9:23pm - The award show has so many dead moments that I just finished today’s entry WHILE writing this live report.

9:25pm - Best Original Music goes to: Lust, Caution. Its second award of the night, and presented by star Tang Wei.

9:32pm - Kelly Chen returns as a presenter. Cracks jokes in Mandarin, with drum sounds and all.

9:33pm - Best Cinematography. Soi Cheang’s Shamo’s first chance, and Lust, Caution’s sixth chance. The award goes to: The Matrimony, probably a surprise win, considering cinematography was one of Lust, Caution’s strong points.

9:36pm - Kelly sticks around for Best Visual Effects as well. I hope Twins Mission doesn’t win for this.

The award goes to: Secret?! OK………….

9:39pm - All three Podium People are at the podium to show some gag video with the host performing “magic tricks.” It’s kind of funny.

9:44pm - Then they waste some more time to put on a real magic demonstration.

9:48pm - Aaron Kwok is actually there, and they just pushed up to help with the magic thing. He probably thought they were going to magically give him the Best Actor award.

9:54pm - They should’ve gone to commercial to skip the whole thing.

10:06pm - Finally back to giving out awards. Now: Best Taiwanese Filmmaker.

And the award goes to: Ang Lee, to thunderous applause.

10:13pm - Best Taiwanese film time. And the award goes to: Secret.

10:15pm - Best new actor time. Korea’s Lee Jun-Ki speaks Mandarin! Tons of young girls scream!

10:18pm - And the award goes to: Tang Wei for Lust, Caution. Who seriously expected her not to win?

10:28pm: OK, Best Original Screenplay time. Protege is the only Hong Kong film in the category. And the award goes to: Home Song Stories. Poor guy’s English acceptance speech isn’t getting the laughs he want. Actually, thanking Lust, Caution for being an adapted screenplay is pretty funny.

10:31pm: Time for Best Adapted Screenplay. This is the more competitive one, as Battle of Wits, Lust, Caution, and The Sun Always Rises are all part of this. Oh, and Shamo too. The award goes to: Lust, Caution for its 4th award of the night.

10:33pm - Holy shit, Wong Jing and Chu Ying-Ping on the same stage. It’s time for an assassination attempt by movie critics!

10:36pm - The Audience Award for Best Film - Nominees are: Getting Home, What on Earth Have I Done Wrong, Home Song Stories, Eye In the Sky, Lust, Caution. Oh, they’re the same as the Best Film category.

And the award goes to: Getting Home. Whoa. Will this be repeated when the actual Best Film award comes? Does this mean Aaron Kwok has better chances of winning? nah.

10: 51pm - Time for the major awards. I think they skip some awards in the Hong Kong broadcast for commercials. Bastards…..

10:58pm - And they switch channels again.

11:00pm - Time for Best Actor. Aaron! Aaron! Aaron! Aaron!

And the award goes to: Sandra Ng rips the envelope!!!!!!!

And Ang Lee manages to piece it back together to give it to Tony Leung Chiu-Wai for Lust, Caution. Sorry, Aaron.

11:08pm - Come on, the award is going overtime already. Get Wong Jing off the stage.

11::14pm - Best Actress time. Who’s betting on Tang Wei? Will it be another upset?

And the award goes to: Joan Chen! For Home Song Stories. Another upset indeed!

11:17pm - Two more awards left: Best Director and Best Film. Will Lust, Caution take them both, or will they both be upsets?

11:21pm - OK, Aaron, sorry you lost. Just give out the damn award already.

11:23pm - Time for Best Director. And the award goes to: Ang Lee for Lust, Caution. It’s probably a heavy favorite for best picture now.

11:33pm - Here we go, the last award of the night. And the award goes to: Lust, Caution. That would make it 7 awards total to make it the big winner of the night.

And that would wrap up the coverage. ATV screwed up by skipping some awards and also switching channels due to contractual obligations. Plus the show itself is overlong with performances and demonstrations. Still, despite some upsets, there doesn’t seem to be one that was really out there. Anyway, a complete list will be out in a few days.

The Golden Rock - December 7th, 2007 Edition

- Let’s look at the Thursday opening numbers from Hong Kong to predict the weekend. Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective wins the day again with HK$518,000 from 36 screens for an 8-day total of HK$6.07 million. If this keeps up, it should wrap the weekend with nearly 8 million, though its chances of hitting 10 million is getting slim with The Warlords coming up this coming Wednesday night. Danny Pang’s out-there romantic horror In Love With the Dead will probably be able to stay at second place with a current 8-day total of HK$3.27 million. However, it should come short of brother Oxide’s The Detective’s gross of near HK$6 million.

Meanwhile, the only opening film that hit the top 10 is Robert Benton’s Feast of Love. From 10 screens, it made HK$60,000. It’s going to be a very quiet weekend at the movies.

- From Twitch is the first trailer for the Japanese cult film Machine Girl that looks really cool in that adrenaline rush way. Be aware, though - it’s not really safe for work.

- Yet another Japanese film awards has given the best film honor to Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It. This time it’s the Nikkan Sports Film Awards, who also gave Suo the best director award. Kimura Takuya, meanwhile, won best actor for Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor, Yuko Takeuchi picks up another best actress award for Sidecar ni Inu, Tokyo Tower’s Kirin Kiki picked up best supporting actress, Takashi Sasano picked up best supporting actor for Love and Honor, and Yui Aragaki picked up best newcomer for her two films this year - Warubobo and Koizora.

- Earlier (as in when we were still at Blogger), we reported that Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip are working on their 4th film together, the supernatural film Painted Skin. However, now that has changed, with Gordon Chan taking over. Donnie Yen will apparently play a ghost catcher. More exciting is the fact that this will be the first fantasy-horror film that is actually about the supernatural that was approved by the Chinese government.

-  While China did greenlight a ghost movie, Variety reported that they are starting their 3-month Hollywood film blackout period tomorrow. However, the Associated Press got right to Chinese film officials, who denied the report.  Then again, the Hollywood blockbuster I am Legend still hasn’t secured a release in China, despite opening in much of the world next week. The worse news is that Smith said he is meeting Stephen Chow this weekend, and that he is exploring the idea of setting his Karate Kid remake in Hong Kong.

More over the weekend.

The Golden Rock - December 5th, 2007 Edition

Before we go on to our usual Wednesday posts (Oricon charts), let’s look at how Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai’s Mad Detective is doing mid-week.

- On Tuesday discount day in Hong Kong, Mad Detective kept going strong with nearly HK$620,000 from 35 screens for a 6-day total of HK$5.01 million. With this pace and almost no competition this coming weekend, this could become the most successful Milkyway film since summer’s Hooked on You, and may even be Milkyway’s first film to hit the HK$10 million mark since the Election flicks. Everything else did not so well. Maybe more this weekend if uploads the Thursday numbers.

-The Oricon charts were pretty quiet this week, with Tokio’s new single winning the top spot by selling just 46,000 copies. Erika Sawajiri, seemingly still trying to recover from her PR nightmare a few months ago, could only sell 26,000 copies of her latest single for a 7th place debut.

On the albums chart, Kazumasa Oda beats his own record by being the oldest artist to have a number 1 album with his latest, selling 176,000 copies in the first week.

More details at Tokyograph

- Yoshimitsu Morita’s remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Tsubaki Sanjuro might have debut at 4th place with just 160 million yen, but its opening was 54% of the opening for Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor, which made a total of 4 billion yen. As for the audience breakdown, Eiga Consultant reports that the male-female ratio is 39:61 (!!!), those in their 40s made up 37.1 % of the audience, those in their 30s took up 22%, and those in their 20s took up just 17.2 %. Not sure how old those other 23.7% of the audience was, though.

When polled why they decided to watch it, 28.2% of the audience said it was because they were fans of star Yuji Oda, and 25.8% thought the content looked interesting. Period dramas such as Tsubaki Sanjuro tend to have stronger legs in the long run, so it looks like it will make it to 1 billion after all. It all depends on word-of-mouth, as is the case for most films in Japan that couldn’t open big.

- All Soi Cheang fans out there take note: his latest film Shamo, which has been stuck in limbo since it played at the Cannes market, is not likely to be released until March 2008, despite scoring 3 nominations at the Golden Horse Awards.

- Under “waste of time in a society based on timeliness” news today, you can watch Japanese comedy clips while waiting for your drink to come out of the vending machine. Does that mean now it’ll take 30-60 seconds for a drink to come out of the damn vending machine?

- It’s reviews time! From Variety’s Russell Edwards (this guy seems to make a daily appearance in this blog) is a review for Matsuo Suzuki’s Welcome to the Quiet Room. From Twitch/Lovehkfilm guest reviewer JMaruyama is a review of the hit Japanese drama Hero.

- I wonder if any fans of Korean movies ever sat there and thought that Korea needed disaster movies, because those people just had their wishes come true.

- Courtesy of Jason Gray, the website for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Ponyo on a Cliff is now open. However, there’s not much on it.

- Twitch has a trailer for the Korean serial killer flick Rainbow Eyes. And that’s all I have to say about that.

- NHK last scored a huge hit with Korean drama star Bae Yong-Joon when they aired Winter Sonata. Nearly 4 years later, they’re hoping for another hit with his latest period drama The Four Guardian Gods, which will also play in Japanese cinemas on a weekly basis in addition to the TV airings.

- Last week, we reported several Taiwanese films flopping on home turf and elsewhere. Kaiju Shakedown now introduces a few non-teen-targeted Taiwanese films this year, not including the two we mentioned last week.

- The Japan Media Arts Festival revealed their winners, with the sleeper animated hit Summer Days With Coo winning the grand prize in the Animation Division. The more surprising winner is Wii Sports picking up the Grand Prize in the Entertainment division.

- Under “Just for kicks” news today, here’s a clip of the least talented person to go on Bistro Smap ever. By the way, they call that bubble bursting thing “Paris Reaction,” which I can you can say the same for quite a few guys. Not me, though.

The Golden Rock - December 4th, 2007 Edition

- In Japanese drama ratings (one day late), many of the dramas that hit their season-low managed to bounce back. That does include the gradually failing Hatachi No Koibito, which finally saw a week with improving ratings as it bounced back by 0.2%. Hell, even Joshi Deka finally saw a rise in rating, bouncing from an abysmal 7.8 last week to a 9.3 this week. The same goes for Iryu 2, which went up from a 14.1 to a 16.6 for its 8th episode. The hit Fuji Saturday night drama SP, however, dropped to its season-low this past weekend. A preview for next week: Galileo drops to its season-low.

- Just before Mad Detective had its massive opening weekend in Hong Kong, IFC (Independent Film Channel) picked up the North America distribution rights last Friday. They will show it in theaters, for also make it a day-and-date release for video on demand, which is wise since the Hong Kong DVD would be out by then.

- When you buy legit copes of American movies on Chinese DVDs, you’ll get a refrigerator magnet with Jackie Chan’s face thanking you for buying legit products. Wouldn’t that make me want to buy them less?

- In case anyone in Japan (or planning to download) wants to know, this is the full Kohaku lineup this new year’s eve.

- Let me ask a hypothetical question: say you’re a South Korean director and you would like to receive the French Legion of Honor. What do you do? Make over 100 movies and win a few prizes.

- The Taiwanese film The Wall picked up the best film prize at the India International Film Festival, which screened 176 films from 46 countries.

- Kaiju Shakedown, which was kind enough to recommend you all to this blog today, compiles a sample set of reviews for the Japanese failed blockbuster Midnight Eagle. Here’s also a compiled set of reviews from Rotten Tomatoes.

- According to Apple Daily in Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wai’s English film debut My Blueberry Nights will open in Hong Kong on January 3rd, apparently a whole month ahead of the American release.  There’s even a real pretty website up now.

- An animation house named Animation Innovation Tokyo is doing what their name promises by setting up a new channel on Youtube to upload clips of potential anime series. Potential investors can watch these clips and decide to invest to make them into feature length films. They’re already asking for submissions for the 7th group of pilots.

-  While Yu Aoi getting cast in a Japanese TV drama is news, the bigger news here is it’s a 12-part series by 4 directors, and each director has complete freedom over the 3 episodes they’re in charge of - as long as they’re about lies.

- It’s reviews time! Variety has a review of Happily Ever After - or Jigyaku No Uta - by Russell Edwards.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 12/4/07

- The Japanese box office numbers came in from Box Office Mojo. Despite Always 2 and Koizora dropping around 30% each, it managed to hang on to first and second place. However, Beowulf did get the best per-screen average out of the top 10, despite opening at just third place. Midnight Eagle, which lost 66% of its business from last weekend after losing one screen to be at 100th place this weekend, lost only 30% of its opening weekend business in its second weekend for a 2-weekend total of 387 million yen. Sadly, the action thriller will not be hitting the 1 billion yen mark.

- As reported in Korea Pop Wars, it was indeed a rather slow weekend in Korea. To everyone’s surprise, the Hollywood film August Rush, which was co-produced by Korea’s CJ Entertainment, opened at number 1 (unlike in North America, where it stayed at 7th place for 2 weeks in a row). Lust, Caution has managed to see it admissions grow to 1.3 million now and may hit 1.5 million. If it becomes a hit in Japan, then Ang Lee’s film would officially have conquered all of Asia’s major moviegoing regions.

In a related note, Lust, Caution finally lost its number one spot in China after 4 weeks at the top.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 12/3/07

- The Sunday numbers from Hong Kong are in, and Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective is a bona-fide hit, making what looks like HK$1.15 million from 35 screens for a 4-day total of HK$3.85 million, exceeding my previous forecast. Danny Pang’s In Love With the Dead made HK$470,000 from 32 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$2.38 million. Depending on word-of-mouth, this should probably do just as much business as brother Oxide’s The Detective did in September.

In foreign opening films, the vampire film 30 Days of Night made HK$300,000 from 24 screens for a weak opening of HK$1.21 million. Andrew Lau’s Hollywood debut The Flock made only HK$100,000 from 18 screens for a HK$370,000 4-day total. Lastly, the Japan-Korean co-production Virgin Snow made HK$93,000 from 12 screens for a 4-day total of HK$HK$370,000 as well.

In holdovers, last weekend’s winner The Heartbreak Kid holds on fairly strong with HK$340,000 from 25 screens with a HK$3.84 million. The Japanese tearjerker Tokyo Tower saw another strong weekend boost, making HK$230,000 from 11 screens. After 18 days, it’s made HK$3.48 million and should have no problem getting to HK$4 million. The ultimate holdover, though, is Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution. After 68 days, it still manages to make HK$110,000 from 10 screens for a current total HK$46.93 million. It won’t cross 50 mil, but it’ll be close.

- In Japan attendance rankings, Always 2 and Koizora top the box office again.  Meanwhile, the animated film Beowulf opens at third, and the seemingly-somewhat-anticipated remake Sanjuro could only muster a 4th place opening. Everything else falls, and expect a more detailed look when the numbers come out from Box Office Mojo.

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 12/2/2007

I bought this album for a week and a half and really love the motown-meets-rock-bottom hybrid. I’m a little behind in the game, but this week’s Song of the Week is the song that embodies the most what the Back to Black album is. Inspired by the classic “Ain’t No Mountain,” it’s Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On Their Own.”

The Golden Rock - December 2nd, 2007 Edition

- Let’s wrap up the week with some Japanese box office figure. Earlier in the week, we reported the disappointing opening of the Japanese blockbuster film Midnight Eagle in its native Japan. Now we can put it into comparison - According to Eiga Consultant, the 185 million yen opening is only 62% of Takao Ozawa’s previous film Life: Tears in Heaven (domestic total: 1.6 billion yen) and only 69% of Yuko Takeuchi’s previous film Closed Note (domestic total: 1 billion yen).

The film was also a day-and-date release in the United States. On two screens (one in New York and one in San Francisco), the aspiring blockbuster opened all the way down at 88th place with US$2,543. That’s just a per-screen average of $1,271. 12 shows over 3 days=a total of 24 shows nationwide. That means each show made just roughly $106 dollars. Still, considering it didn’t get enough of the promotional push it needed, it’s a good starting point.

- Meanwhil, Yon-sama seems to be doing much better in Japan. Bae Yong-Joon’s latest drama The Four Guardian Gods of the King is set to be shown digitally in Japanese theaters with one episode playing 3-6 days a week. Sold in sets, the drama has already sold 1047 sets of the 24,000-yen set tickets. I know the numbers don’t quite add up, but it still prove the power of a Korean guy in glasses has over Japanese housewives these days…

- According to Jason Gray, another major trend from a foreign country in Japan now is the trend of French filmmakers going to Japan to make their films. Jason even has a term for it: Nouvelle Tsunami.

- From this weekend’s opening of the Tsubaki Sanjuro remake, another trend in Japanese film seems to be filmmakers remaking classic films almost shot-by-shot under the guise that it would attract attention on the originals. Kon Ichikawa did it, Nobuhiko Obayashi did it. Hell, even Yasujiro Ozu remade his own film back it the day. Does that make it OK?

- Guess which Hong Kong director is going back into the well of used ideas? According to Ming Pao, Stephen Chow announced that he will be making not one, but two movies based on the Journey to the West story that he and Jeff Lau used for the Chinese Odyssey films. The article, which I will not be translating word-for-word, says that like the earlier films, he’ll be making a two-part film that is now possible thanks to the ability of computer graphics. He also said that he will be sticking closer to the source material, unlike the Chinese Odyssey films, which were only loosely based on it. One reason that he’s going back to Journey to the West again is that the Chinese Odyssey films were considered his breakthrough work in Mainland China, where they thought the comedy in his earlier films did not translate well to Mandarin.

Like the columnist points out, when is Chow going back to movies WITHOUT computer graphics?

- It just opened in Japan this weekend, but Kenta Fukasaku’s latest XX (X-Cross) is already set to getting a Hollywood remake. The last film to accomplish the feat of getting a remake before it opened is the Korean thriller Seven Days, starring Lost star Kim Yun-Jin.

- With the Simpsons movie opening in Japan next weekend, it’d be good for Japanese fans to know that their voices were heard, and that the original TV voice dubbing cast, instead of the usual celebrity voices, will be back on the film’s Japanese DVD. Somehow this reminds me of the episode where Burns got 4 actors, including Michael Caine, to impersonate the Simpsons for Bart.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a feature of The Rebirth, the latest film by arthouse director Masahiro Kobayashi that features almost no dialogue. Actually, I’m quite intrigued.

- Japan Times also has a feature on the Japanese online film festival Con-Can, which recently wrapped up its latest edition.

- the Hong Kong Films blog reveals that next year’s big Lunar New Year movie Kung Fu Dunk may not be the most original film of the year. Hell, they can’t even seem to design original production stills. Is anyone that is not a Jay Chou fan seriously looking forward to this movie?

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri recommends the only two dramas still worth catching on Japanese TV this season.

- Meanwhile, Japanese public broadcaster NHK will be cutting back on their jidaigeki (period dramas) and use the free time slot to gear to those young-uns. But wait, isn’t Japan’s population getting older, not younger?

- Looks like EMI Japan looks to turn into a Johnny’s-sized company by expanding themselves into a management firm that will be taking care of all aspects of an artist’s career. However, it doesn’t seem like all of EMI Japan’s current artists will be joining the firm.

- Under “good for them” news today, Seagull Diner director Naoko Ogigami’s latest Megane will be heading to the Sundance World Cinema Competition next February.

Under “what the hell were they smoking” news today, Kenneth Bi’s The Drummer is also entering that category. It’s not even an independent film, people!

The full list of competition films at Sundance.

- Just for kicks, here’s an infomercial for the total Chinese rip-off that is the Vii. Copyright © 2002-2019 Ross Chen