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Archive for January, 2008

The Golden Rock - January 30th, 2008 Edition

As much as we would like to provide daily coverage of the so-called Edison-Bobo-Gillian-Cecilia incident on the Golden Rock, you’re better off checking out the coverage of the media coverage over at the always-informative EastSouthWestNorth.

- It’s Oricon charts time! On the singles chart, artists whose singles usually debut on top failed to do so this week, as Ketsumeishi and Koda Kumi could only secure 2nd and 4th place debuts. Meanwhile, the group Radwimps got their first number 1 single instead.

On the albums chart, ZARD can still hit the number one with a new compilation put together by fan votes (ZARD may be the new Tupac in Japan). Meanwhile TVXQ couldn’t repeat their success on the single charts with a 4th place debut.

Chart report from Tokyograph.

- As expected, Eiga Consultant did analyze the opening of Yoji Yamada’s Kaabei. However, Mr. Texas compared its opening with star Sayuri Yoshinaga’s previous film Kita No Zero Nen instead of Yoji Yamada’s previous films. Anyway, Kaabei’s opening was at 65% of Kita No Zero Nen’s opening, which led to a total gross of 2.7 billion yen. However, Kaabei is not a spectacle-filled historic epic, and may end up having longer legs than it. Still, the lack of Kimura Takuya means it probably won’t make as much money as Love and Honor did.

- Didn’t get to cover the Japanese drama ratings, but I will report that the final episode of the Saturday night Fuji drama SP managed a damn good 18.9% rating, which is phenomenal for a series on Saturday night at 11 pm. Bring on the meaningless prime time special!

- An Inconvenient Truth, the global warming documentary featuring Al Gore, breaks Japanese box office records as it attracted roughly 60,000 admissions and a gross of 90 million yen during its run at one Tokyo theater.

- Korean actor Choi Min-Shik, who reportedly declared that he would not be doing any more film work until the screen quota was restored, has signed up to be in a film. He will be playing a company director who takes his Nepalese worker’s remains back to the Himalayas in a yet-to-be-titled film. I don’t think he was doing it for money, either: the film is only budgeted at $500,000.

- Meanwhile, things don’t look too well for Korean films, as a new report claims that an average Korean film lost 1.9 million in 2007, with nearly 80% of its revenue made from theatrical release, signaling a fairly weak home video market.

- Jason Gray looks at the Japanese films that will be heading to Berlin next week.

- And Grady Hendrix looks at some of his favorite films that will be looking for funding at the upcoming Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

- This is kind of an old news worth reporting, seeing this is a Hong Kong film website and all: Mei Ah, one of the big investors of relatively new Hong Kong film distributor Big Media, has sold most of its stakes to a Mainland Chinese investor. However, Mei Ah will still handle distribution and acquire their films for their TV channels.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 1/29/2008

- Thing about websites that do almost daily box office updates is that you miss out on reporting the Sunday grosses on Monday, then you miss the overall weekend picture. Also, you then have to report that See You In Youtube actually topped the box office on the next day. That’s right, the Oxide Pang-led feature-length student film finally topped the box office on Monday, January 28th, 2008, making HK$184,000 from 28 screens for a grand 12-day total of HK$4.36 million.

All the way in 4th place on Monday was Sunday’s surprise winner, Atashin’ichi the Movie. It lost its family-friendly business on Monday and made only HK$75,000 from 16 screens for an 12-day total (trust me, I didn’t read it wrong; they changed it around) of HK$2.73 million. Second place, though falling very very quickly, is the handheld cam monster flick Cloverfield with just HK$145,000 from 36 screens, though it has made HK$6.93 million already, which is pretty good for a Hollywood film whose viral marketing did not reach Hong Kong.

As for last week’s openers, The Kite Runner did only OK with its limited release, having made HK$620,000 from 8 screens over 5 days. That’s HK$124,000 each day, with a HK$15,000 average. It probably did much better over the weekend, since it only made about HK$60,000 of it on Monday. The other opener, the Thai horror film 13 Beloved, made just HK$180,000 from 13 screens over 5 days. I’d say that’s a qualified flop.

- The Japanese box office numbers also came out, with Sweeney Todd still on top after losing almost 40% of last weekend’s business (that fall is on the higher end of the usual drop), almost losing to the new ensemble film Kagehinata Ni Saku, which opened at second place with a better per-screen average. Also with a better per-screen average than Sweeney Todd is the documentary Earth, which lost only another 25% of its business from last week.

Meanwhile, the Yoji Yamada drama Kaabei opened in 4th place, though the previous Yoji Yamada films tend to have lasting power rather than huge opening weekends. I’m pretty sure Eiga Consultant will be analyzing this opening soon.

My fingers are freezing. That’s it today.

The Golden Rock - January 26th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling gives a glowing review to Yosuke Fujita’s Fine, Totally Fine. Meanwhile, Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa also gives a very positive review to Yoji Yamada’s latest Kaabei.

Not entirely sure if it counts under reviews, but this week’s Televiews column provides brief reviews quite a few Winter 2008 dramas, including Dai suki!, Bara No Nai Hanaya, and Bomb-Bee Man, among others.

- Speaking of Fine, Totally Fine, there’s also an interview with director Yosuke Fujita in the Japan Times.

- Under “drama specials that don’t need to happen” news today, the hit Fuji Saturday night drama SP will be getting a prime time special only a little over 2 months after the finale airs tonight. However, the special is only the 11 episodes edited together with timeline rearranged. Why would anyone tune in, you ask? It will apparently reveal a big secret that I suspect the writers were only able to concoct after Fuji told them they’d be milking this thing for all it’s got. Then again, I’m just guessing.

- Unlike China, the Hong Kong government will be giving the foreign press total freedom by not imposing a mandatory registration system for the Olympic Equestrian event, which will take place in Hong Kong. However, organizations are still complaining about the cost it takes to apply for a special visa every time these journalists need to enter China.

- Speaking of China, its broadcasting authority literally asked a TV station to not only remove its sexually explicit material, but to also provide “more spiritual food” to its audiences. Would you like that spoon-fed?

The Golden Rock - January 25th, 2008 Edition

- A few news straight from Peter Chan’s mouth: The Warlords was actually cut by several minutes in Mainland China for violence, and that is also the version that is mostly being passed around on the internet. Also, his co-producer Andre Morgan apparently took the film and made his own international cut for oversea buyers, which Chan is not very happy about because it’s being done without any input from him. Unhappy enough that now his next film Waiting is on hold while Chan takes a break for a year to  watch the “shifting marketplace.” I’m not sure if he’s lamenting, but he’s suggesting that next time he makes a mid-budget film, he will be aiming towards China, because he’s now a businessman, not a filmmaker.

Another Hong Kong filmmaker bites the dust…

- I wonder if Taiwanese producers regretting their decision to start filming a Taiwanese version of the live-action Honey and Clover series at the same time as the Japanese one. I’m asking because ratings for the Japanese one has now slid to single-digit numbers. Who knows? Chinese teenagers love (to download) their idol dramas, so this might be a hit.

-  Japanese horror director Hideo Nakata seems to be taking a turn away from the genre that made him famous with not only the upcoming Death Note spin-off L, but also his upcoming project Gensenkan, a film about a group of people who hide at a hot spring inn for different reasons.

Meanwhile, Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s vampire film will star Song Kang-Ho.

Both films will be featured at the upcoming Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

- Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Josie Ho from Hong Kong, in light of The Drummer’s competition slot at Sundance. Just reading that introduction (especially about her calling Chinese film executives “dick face”) makes me like her so much more.

- The Midnight Eye has posted a set of top 10 2007 Japanese films lists from several contributors well-versed in Japanese films, including Golden Rock favorite Jason Gray. Those lists just show how much more Japanese films I need to watch.

- Big news for foreigners in South Korea: CJ entertainment and Korea’s largest theater complex will offer some of the bigger films English-subtitled screenings during their release. About 4-6 films will be getting the subtitle treatment, with A Man Once Superman being the first one. How long will it take before Japan does that same? I suspect never.

- The Chinese learn the idea of irony, with a new brand being named after the most famous street in Beijing for knock-off goods. The ultimate irony? The general manager of the market that started the brand is warning people to not sell fake versions of the goods.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 1/25/2008

- Let’s look at the Thursday opening day box office in Hong Kong first: Cloverfield looks to lead the weekend again after making HK$255,000 from 36 screens on Thursday for an 8-day total of HK$5.45 million. However, bad word-of-mouth (”I don’t get it!”"It made me dizzy!”) may allow the Hollywood romantic comedy 27 Dresses catch up and hit number 1 instead, as it made HK$206,000 from 26 screens on Thursday. I hope See You in Youtube doesn’t catch up instead after making HK$218,000 from 28 screens for second place on Thursday.

There’s no wide release threatening last week’s holdovers, with The Kite Runner making the most money on opening day. From 8 screens, the film adaptation of the best-selling novel made just HK$66,000, though it may see a boost over the weekend. More on Monday when the numbers come out.

HK$7.8=US$1

-  I completely forgot to look at the Japanese box office numbers. Looks like besides Sweeney Todd’s great opening, the documentary Earth managed to hold on to its business quite well, dropping only roughly 27 % from last week’s gross and already passing the 1 billion yen mark. Also, Season of Snow lost just 31% of its business from last week, fairly typical of most Japanese blockbusters (and that additional 200 screens is just what they didn’t compute last week, which means it didn’t gain nor lose any screens). Mr. Bean’s Holiday’s opening was also more impressive than it looks, making 107 billion yen from just 137 screens. That’s 123% of Johnny English’s opening. With the first film making 1.15 billion yen over 10 years ago, will the sequel match that gross?

However, all the big movies from December are losing audiences fast, with I Am Legend, National Treasure, and Alien Vs. Predator 2 all losing 50% of previous week’s business (though I believe I am Legend has made closer to 38 million than 3.8 million dollars).

- Lastly, someone requested me to post the top grossing films in Hong Kong in 2007. Since this blog is in Lovehkfilm, I’ll only do the top-grossing Chinese films (and there’s only one Hong Kong film if I include the foreign films anyway, and that’s Lust, Caution).  Discounting films that opened in Christmas 2006, here are the 6 top-grossing 2007 Chinese films in Hong Kong:

1)  Lust, Caution - HK$48.7 million
2) The Warlords - roughly HK$28 million
3) Protege - HK$26.53 million
4) A Battle of Wits - HK$16 million
5) Secret - HK$14.48 million
6) Invisible Target - HK$13.13 million

In perspective - Andy Lau stars in three of those

In perspective 2 - Peter Chan was involved in two of those

In perspective 3 - This is probably the first time a category-III film became a box office winner in Hong Kong

In perspective 4 - Milkyway is involved in none of those

In perspective 5 - Neither is Donnie Yen.

List courtesy of Hong Kong Film blog, though The Warlords‘ gross were estimated by yours truly.

The Golden Rock - January 23rd, 2008 Edition

A rather short entry today:

- It’s Oricon charts time! This week, the Korean boy band TVXQ managed to become the first foreign male artist to score a number one song on the singles chart by selling 40,000 copies of their latest single. The girl group Perfume is not far behind at 3rd place, and I wonder if them being human clocks have anything to do with it. Meanwhile, The Bank Band owned the albums chart, while Kobukuro’s latest album has already passed the million mark (I should probably buy a copy somewhere to see what the big deal is).

Oricon information from Tokyograph

- The Hong Kong Film blog presents the 6 lowest-grossing films of 2007 in Hong Kong. Lovehkfilm even reviewed two of them:

6. The Tokyo Trial: HK$8,420
5. Fear Factors: HK$7,740
4. Lethal Angels: HK$3,630
3. Sweet Revenge: HK$3,255
2. Fight For Love: HK$1,620
1. Bar Paradise: roughly HK$540

In perspective: HK$7.8=US$1

In perspective, part 2: Hong Kong’s lowest-grossing foreign film in 2007 was My Wife is A Gangster 3, but it still grossed HK$15,000.

- This past weekend, Japan Times reviewed the new indie film Don’t Laugh At My Romance (Trailer here), starring L himself Kenichi Matsuyama. Opening at one theater in Tokyo, the film saw full houses almost at every single show during opening weekend, making 4.03 million yen at that theater alone, with the male-female audience ratio at 1:9 during the day and a large number of audience in their 30s and couples showing up. Its nationwide expansion will now likely be quickened.

- The Blue Ribbon Awards winners have been announced, with the dark comedy Kisaragi taking best film, though Masayuki Suo did end up taking home best director for I Just Didn’t Do It, which also won best actor.

Full list of winners.

- Asian cable network Star TV will be starting a second movie channel devoted Chinese-language films from the 1970s-1990s. However, my two paid movie channels in Hong Kong censor movies (as in they take out all profanity, gore, and nudity), and I suspect that Star Movies do the same, which is why I didn’t subscribe.

- The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber reviews Kenneth Bi’s The Drummer at Sundance, calling the film “a true guilty pleasure that will tickle audiences around the world”…as in unintentional laughter?

- Chinese anti-piracy authorities and the Motion Picture Association are teaming up for the second anti-piracy video contest, which gives students a chance to produce one-minute shorts that encourage people to protect intellectual property. Don’t know if something like that really helps, though.

- Plus, once word of this admission by the Motion Pictures Association of America gets out, why the hell do college students want to keep staying away from piracy? They’re already falsely accused of it, might as well really do it.

The Golden Rock - January 22nd, 2008 Edition

- No Japanese box office numbers yet, but we now know that Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd made a killing (ha ha!) at the box office, making 398 million yen from 400 screens on its opening weekend. Warner Bros. expects the film to make about 3 billion yen, nearly matching the film’s box office gross in the US.

- Sadly, the horror-musical didn’t do nearly as well in South Korea, where it opened at third place with 1.84 billion won from 321 screens, way behind the two Korean films that topped the box office for the second weekend in a row.

- Tired of Japanese dramas adapted from comic books? Too bad, because you’re getting two more of them.

- You learn something new on the internet everyday: did you know that the American sitcom Growing Pains was such a huge hit in China that its star is still very popular there? Popular enough to have investors fund a movie that will be released nationwide where he plays a white Chinese-speaking ballet dancer who falls in love with a Chinese ballerina.

- Turns out Atonement will not be the first film released in China at the end of the Hollywood blackout. Instead, the family film The Water Horse will beat it to the punch by opening a week earlier on February 16th.

- Under “let’s make up a story out of tragedy for ratings” news today, Fuji Television will bring to the small screen a documentary drama about a heroic policeman who died while saving a woman who was trying to commit suicide at the train tracks.

- How the hell does Grady Hendrix find stuff like North Korean electronic keyboard-driven propaganda music?

- Kazumasa Oda beats yet another record, as his compilation album Jikou Best has now spent 300 consecutive weeks on the Oricon charts and counting.

- In yet another high profile competition titles at the Berlin Film Festival, Hong Sang-Soo’s latest Night and Day will be heading to the competition. It will also run 2 hours and 24 minutes, which is an eternity in Hang Sang-Soo pacing.

-  Kaiju Shakedown introduces you to another type of underground director in China: One that makes films about Christianity.

The Golden Rock - January 21st, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! The first full week of the winter 2008 season is over, and the Shingo Katori-Yuko Takeuchi drama Bara No Nai Hanaya leads the pack with a 22.4% rating for its premiere episode. Not far behind is fellow Smap member Goro Inagaki and Koyuki’s starrer Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai (Jason Gray writes about it here) with its premiere episode scoring a 17.3 rating last night. Binboman, starring Shun Oguri, also did pretty well in its first episode with a 16.5% rating.

Meanwhile, several dramas saw a rise in ratings after their premiere episode. Saito-san, which the Daily Yomiuri’s Teleview column wrote about last weekend, saw its second episode score a 17.4% rating, up from the 15.3% for its first episode. The Kenkuro Kudo-penned drama Mirai Koushi Meguru saw its second episode go up to a 10.6%, up from the 9.0% for its premiere episode.

However, other dramas took the usual fall. Last week’s big premiere The Negotiator dropped from the 16.7% for its first episode to a 13.8% for this past week, the boxing drama One-Pound Gospel dropped from 13.0% to 11.4%, and the manga adaptation Honey and Clover drops to 10% from its 12.9%-rated premiere.

All Winter 2008 drama information from Tokyograph

- The Hong Kong Film Critics Society has announced their 2007 awards, and they are not as nutty this year:

Best Picture: The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Best Director: Ann Hui - The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Best Screenplay: Wai Ka-Fai, Au Kin-Yee - Mad Detective
Best Actor: Tony Leung Ka-Fai - Eye in the Sky
Best Actress: Siqin Gaowa - The Postmodern Life of My Aunt
Recommended films (only 8 this year, as opposed to 10): Eye in the Sky, The Warlords, Whispers and Moans, Hooked On You, Mad Detective, Triangle, Protege, The Detective.

No Pang Ho-Cheung (no, he wasn’t even in the finalists list)? No Exodus? No Invisible Target? No Trivial Matters? At least no Wong Jing.

(courtesy of Hong Kong Film Blog)

- While the news of Johnnie To’s Sparrow heading to Berlin is not news, his assistant said that the possible English-language remake of The Red Circle is currently on hold because of the writer’s strike in America.

- While the Chinese government is admitting that the battle against piracy is a struggle, it’s interesting to read that people are downloading Hong Kong and Taiwanese television series that are usualy banned there. This means the government may be battling piracy not just because of copyright infringement, but to also keep the lid on banned materials.

- The teaser for Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori’s Ichi, a re-imagining of the Zatoichi tale, is on the website. They’ve done something like this before, it was called Azumi, and it wasn’t that good.

- Meanwhile, the legendary Sonny Chiba has announced his first film under his new name Rindo Wachinaga. Za Toichi (The Toichi) will be about a blind moneylender. Chiba may act in the film under his acting name (as in Sonny Chiba).

- I already found this out on imdb: Ken Watanabe has signed up for his first Hollywood studio role since Letters From Iwo Jima for the vampire film Cirque du Freak. Of course, it’s probably just another supporting role with not much to do.

- Under “what the hell were they thinking?” news, an NHK crew was filming a drama when they attached a fake license plate to a background car in order to give the illusion that they are in another prefecture. However, they managed to take a break without removing the plate, and the car drove off with the fake license plate.  Always be careful with cars you’re not allowed to put fake license plates on, people.

- Thailand’s now-defunct iTV was first conceived as a fair and balance news network free of government influence. Ironically, its editorial control have now been given to the Thai military-run government after it was forced into bankruptcy.

- Meanwhile, Thai Airways stewardess are complaining about a new soap opera about air hostess that depicts immoral sexual relationships amongst stewardess and pilots. I guess the show isn’t sponsored by any major airlines then.

-  Kaiju Shakedown covers all the musicals going to South Korean stages that are based on movies. In fact, 30% of all musical on South Korean stages will be based on movies.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 1/21/2007

- In Hong Kong Sunday box office, Cloverfield is a hit, but missed the HK$5 million target I was expecting last Thursday. However, it did average HK$1 million a day, with HK$990,000 from 37 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$4.13 million. The Hollywood romantic comedy 27 Dresses saw a significant boost over the weekend with HK$529,000 from 26 screens on Sunday for a HK$1.85 million 4-day total. See You in You Tube actually was the 2nd place film for the weekend, with HK$2.03 million after 4 days but was behind 27 Dresses with HK$508,000 from 28 screens on Sunday.

The Japanese animated film Atashin’ichi also saw a major boost over the weekend, making HK$482,000 from just 16 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.22 million. Then Elizabeth: The Golden Age saw only a small increase, making HK$162,000 from 12 screens for HK$580,000 after 4 days. Lastly among the newcomers, Rendition is DOA with just 99,000 from 16 screens for a weekend total of just HK$340,000.

In holdovers, only Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium hung on from among the new releases last weekend with HK$95,000 from 10 screens for a 11-day total of HK$1.19 million. Atonement is still doing reasonably well too, with HK$56,000 from 6 screens that only show it twice or thrice a day. After 25 days, the British romantic drama has made HK$2.16 million.

- Japanese attendance figures are in, with Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd taking the top spot, and pushing Earth down one spot. The Japanese sports melodrama Giniro No Season stays at third place, beating Mr. Bean’s Holiday’s debut. Two other newcomers, Silk and 28 Weeks Later, debuted at 8th and 9th place, respectively. More when the numbers come out.

The Golden Rock - January 20th, 2008 Edition

Time to wrap the weekend up:

- Newly elected South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak is planning to not only deregulate the Korean broadcasting industry, but also disband the Ministry of Information and Communication. All of this in an effort to bring Korean telecommunication and broadcasting technology back up to standards.

- Meanwhile, Japan public broadcasting network NHK is seeing its revenue from “mandatory” license fees go up after the network saw one million households refusing to pay their fees after several scandals at the network. However, the management committee still refuses to reduce the license fee, despite several discount schemes being enacted later in the year.

- Three more Asian films are going to the Berlin International Film Festival, though only to the Panorama section. They include Kim Ki-Duk’s latest and the homosexual coming-of-age film Hatsu-Koi (which was a pain in the ass to find any information on it).

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri covers the manga adaptation genre so prevalent in Japanese dramas, and manages to find a good one in the new drama Saito-san.

- Currently 16% of the Chinese population has internet access (the current average is 19%). However, 16% of over a billion people is 210 million, which is only 5 million behind the United States. However, such massive growth also means massive problems such as the censorship of cyberspace and widespread copyright violation.

- Of course, China has other problems, including interviewees who can’t seem to answer questions on their own.

- The classic Japanese animated series Gegege No Kitaro turns 40 this weekend, and one Japanese network is celebrating with a new installment of the series on Thursday nights at 12:45 am, which changes the characters a bit from the Kitaro you know and love. I still didn’t like the movie, though.

- Congratulations to singer Mieko Kawakami for winning Akutagawa Prize, one of the most important literary awards in Japan.

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