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Archive for February, 2008

The Golden Rock - February 28th, 2008 Edition

- Courtesy of the informative EastSouthWestNorth is an entry from Danwei about the current state of Chinese cinema. Yes, it’s making money, but where is it headed?

- Jason Gray has a advance review of Gururi No Koto, Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s first film in six years. The teaser on the website (click on the link next to “information”) doesn’t say much, but that, along with the review, has gotten me fairly excited about the film now.

By the way, the film stars Lili Franky. Yes, the Lili Franky who wrote Tokyo Tower - Me, Mom and Sometimes Dad.

- Actress Takako Matsu, usually seen in TV dramas and films, just picked up the Best Actress Award at the Yomiuri Theater Awards for her performances in two stage productions.

- Even though I’m a bigger fan of another author named Murakami, it’s worth reporting that Ryu Murakami’s novel Coin Locker Babies’ film adaptation, which has been on-and-off for years, may still be happening……eventually?

- Watch out, Oricon, the Billboard charts is heading to Japan. It will be compiling data from radio airplay from 33 radio stations and sales figures from 3,000 retailers to make a top 100 chart that will likely differ from the weekly Oricon singles sales chart.

- It may seem strange to those who don’t really know the Japanese film industry, since you may expect a film studio to so something like this instead: major television network NTV has announced its slate of film for the 2008 fiscal year, which will range from the latest film from Hayao Miyazaki to a crime film starring Takeshi Kaneshiro as a killer in 1949 Japan. Most mainstream films in Japan are actually at least partially financed by major television networks. NTV, for one, have made a ton of money from the Death Note films (including the currently-in-release spinoff L: Change the World).

- Japanese actress Youki Kudoh, who was last seen in L: Change the World, will be in her second Jim Jarmusch film, about a “mysterious loner working outside the law.” Whatever that means.

- Lastly, Variety’s Derek Elley gives a brief review to the hit Korean handball movie Forever the Moment.

The Golden Rock - February 27th, 2008 Edition

- The Japanese box office numbers are out, and L: Change The World is hanging on surprisingly well, losing only 17% of its business from the previous week. I guess people will watch detective L in anything. Meanwhile, the standings with money figures in is slightly different from the previously reported attendance figures, as Kabei and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium draw the “cheap ticket” audience, ie the old and the young, which would have an impact on final figures. If you see, Magorium’s take is actually fairly close to Earth’s take.

Meanwhile, box office was also somewhat impact by the previews for The Golden Compass. No word on how many screens it was shown on, but it managed to take a fairly strong 270 million yen over a 2-day period. That’s 155% of last year’s Springtime blockbuster Night at the Museum. It’s set to open on a whopping 700 screens this Saturday, and will probably open big to knock L right off the top spot.

- It’s Oricon charts time! On the singles chart, Arashi has their 10th consecutive number 1 single, selling 324,000 copies. But consider their thunder stolen by Jero, the first African-American enka singer whose first single debuted at 4th place with 35,000 copies sold, making it the best debut by a solo enka singer.

On the albums side, another compilation tops the chart, while Yuna Ito and pop/rock group TOKIO saw fairly weak debuts.

More details at Tokyograph.

- The Bollywood epic film Jodhaa Akbar has now grossed US$18.5 million worldwide, and it still have a holiday weekend coming up. The blockbuster has garnered plenty of controversy for inciting riots, leading to its ban by the regional government in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

- Japan’s Takashi Miike will be the director for a major TV drama project that will run a rare 51 episodes. However, other directors will also come in a direct some episodes as well. The drama is about a high schooler who works with a cell phone robot against internet-based criminal organizations. Wicked.

- China Film Group’s Han “China needs more movie like Pursuit of Happyness” Sanping announces that the Christmas and Lunar New Year period was phenomenal for Chinese films at the box office. Of course, he didn’t say that they didn’t play fair by completely blacking out non-Chinese films for 3 months.

- As reported a while ago, there are two movies about Bruce Lee’s master Ip Man in the works. One of them is the one directed by Wong Kar-Wai and starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. I had thought the other one will be by Fruit Chan (whose film will be about Bruce Lee as a child in Hong Kong?), but turns out it’ll be directed by Wilson Yip and star none other than Donnie Yen (DONNNNNIIIEEEEE!!) and Sammo Hung.

The Golden Rock - February 26th, 2008 Edition

Again, not much news in the world of Asian entertainment, so we’ll just keep combining box office reports with the other entries.

- Yesterday, I linked to a review of the Korean surprise hit thriller The Chaser. Looks like it actually did even better in its second weekend, making 4.4 billion won, a 23% increase from its opening weekend. It’s already gone past the million admission mark, and may even surpass current surprise hit, the handball film Forever The Moment.

Full box office report from Mark Russell’s Korea Pop Wars 

- A preview of tomorrow’s Oricon report: The first African-American enka singer Jero managed to score a 4th place debut for his first single Umiyuki. While I doubt that it sold 3.5 million copies (I bet you it’s 35,000, as 10,000 is a number value in Japanese) , it apparently sets the record for the best debut for an enka singer. His MTV really sucks, but he’s a pretty damn good singer.

- Japanese actress Yu Aoi has been on this blogger’s radar since Shunji Iwai’s Hana and Alice. However, I never realized that she’s more often seen in film than TV. That shall be no more, as now she’s set to star in her first TV drama this coming Spring.

- It’s trailers time! People say Japanese films are weird, and after watching the trailer for the double feature film Ghost Vs. Alien, I honestly cannot really defend that claim. But, hey, I wish I had thought making making a love story between a ghost and an alien too. Good thing I then watched the 60-second teaser for Mamoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers and everything seemed normal again.

- In more animation news, the surprise animated hit Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone won the Animation of the Year award at the Tokyo International Anime Fair. The kicker is that the actual fair isn’t until the end of March. Thanks for ruining the surprise…you organizers.

- Lastly, Jason Gray writes about the strange recent twists in a 1981 murder in Los Angeles of a Japanese woman and how the hell it all connects to Japanese cinema. It’s a strange and fascinating read.

The Golden Rock - February 25th, 2008 Edition

Not much news happening today (I don’t think the Oscars have anything to do with it…right?), so let’s combine everything together.

- In Hong Kong box office, Enchanted seemed to have taken the weekend again, making HK$810,000 from 35 screens for an 18-day total of HK$25.98 million. I still think 30 million is still in its reach. Last week’s opener Jumper is in second place with HK$627,000 from 38 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of 9.93 million, just shy of HK$10 million. The Hollywood horror film The Mist did fairly well, with HK$500,000 from 25 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.69 million. The other major opener Vantage Point, made only HK$315,000 from 30 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.16 million.
The Oscar nominees did extremely well the day before the big ceremony: Juno made HK$325,000 from just 12 screens, while best picture winner No Country For Old Men made HK$230,000 from 7 screens. The two films have made HK$1.09 million and HK$650,000, respectively. No idea on There Will Be Blood, as it was only on 3 screens showing it only 3 times a day, which means it wouldn’t have made the top 10.

CJ7 has crossed the HK$50 million mark, but grosses are still going the natural way, despite the ticket price cuts mentioned over the weekend.  On Sunday, the Stephen Chow film made HK$388,000 from 35 screens. After 25 days, it has made HK$50.61 million and will probably not even hit HK$55 million.

-  With no major releases, 8 of the top 10 films from last week’s Japan attendance figures remained at the same places. Only Flowers in the Shadow and Elizabeth: The Golden Age switched places at 3rd and 5th places.

- Someone catch the falling Japanese drama ratings. This week, the Monday 9pm Fuji drama Bara No Nai Hanaya falls to its season-low of 16.2% rating, while Honey And Clover has yet to see its ratings actually rise, hitting another low at 8.3%. Even reliable hit Aibou hit its season low of 14.7% after hitting its season high last week. However, somewhat good news for Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai, whose ratings have finally gone up to 9.9% from 8.9 % last week.

- China’s education authorities is launching a test program that will include Peking Opera as a compulsory part of music education. This is to encourage a more traditional form of culture. What, you mean Jay Chou and Leehom Wang putting erhu in their songs don’t count?

- Shamo hasn’t even opened yet (though it’s been done for almost10 months), and director Soi Cheang already has a new movie on his hands. This time, it’s Assassins, a movie with Louis Koo and Richie Jen as members of a group of assassins that need to team together to save their friend. Give the man a teeny bopper comedy to do or something, he needs to lighten up.

- Korea Pop War’s Mark Russell offers a brief review of the current hit film in Korea, the serial killer thriller The Chaser.

- Under “aggressive director news that didn’t make it to the Associated Press” today, Japanese director Koichiro Yamashita was arrested over the weekend for getting drunk and attacking a poor convenience store clerk who was busy verbally attacking another customer. If you remember fondly, Hong Kong director Ringo Lam was arrested last week for fighting with a neighbor over something about a bucket and a parking space.

The Golden Rock - February 24th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! From Berlin (I guess it was a market screening) is Variety’s Derek Elley’s review of Chung Siu-Tung’s Empress and the Warriors, starring Kelly Chen, Leon Lai, and Donnie Yen (DONNNNIIIIEEEEE!!!). Wait, did that just say Donnie Yen emphasizes character over martial artistry? THIS I have to see.

- This week on the Daily Yomiuri’s Televiews column, Wm Penn writes about the upcoming Spring season the networks already have in store for us since Winter isn’t working out so well for them.

- According to director/actor Stephen Fung, the future of his Stephen Chow-produced dance film Jump is actually still up in the air (no pun intended, really!). Colombia Pictures wants scenes of star Edison Chen removed, but Fung is now insisting that his part stays in since Chen has apologized for his actions and that he gave an excellent performance in the film. So is it going to be Fung vs. Hollywood? Will Stephen Chow join in the fray, or will he just step back until the dust settles?

- Under “potential new crappy horror franchise” news today, there will be a sequel to the Japanese horror film Kuchisake-Onna, also known as The Slit-Mouthed Woman. Actually, it’ll be a prequel of sorts, which doesn’t matter since it’s all the same to people these days.

- Under “they already made a crappy version of this” news today, there will be another Street Fighter film made, and the only reason to care is because legendary martial arts star Cheng Pei Pei will be in it. Still, this one can’t even get someone with the same caliber as Jean-Claude Van Damme, AND it’ll be directed by the director of masterpieces such as Romeo Must Die and Exit Wound. How good can this possibly get?

Japan has finally found its best-selling single, and it isn’t even on CD! The 1975 children’s song “Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun” sold 4.5 million copies when it was first released, and Guinness managed to find out that it’s actually the best-selling song ever in Japan. With renewed popularity, it will finally be released on CD next month.

-  Shochiku, one of the major distributors of Japan, has announced its slate of 16 films for 2008-2009, and they are aiming for a total of 20 billion yen in box office gross. On the other hand, major rival Toho will be aiming for 60 billion yen. Burn!

- Twitch has a trailer for the Korean gangster film A Destiny, which looks like plenty of homoerotic macho gangster action goodness. Look at those abs!

- Japan-born cinematographer Tetsuo Nagata has won his second Cesar Award for his work in the film La Vie En Rose, the biopic about singer Edith Piaf. That award is French, by the way.

- Japanese movie critic Yoshio Tsuchiya shares his thoughts about late director Kon Ichikawa with the Daily Yomiuri. It’s an excellent piece about an excellent director.

The Golden Rock - February 23rd, 2008 Edition

- It’s Taiwan music charts time! This week, sales are pretty evened out, as Gary Chaw’s album managed to take the top spot again, thanks to a new version of his album. It knocked off Aska Yang’s album from its 4-week streak at the top too. Meanwhile, only one album debuted on the top ten, and that was Koda “I’m like…really sorry” Kumi’s latest album with 2.47% of total sales.

- The Hong Kong Film Festival tickets went on sale today. This year, the festival includes several premieres from established Hong Kong directors, including Ann Hui’s The Way We Are, Lawrence Lau’s City Without Baseball, and film critic Shu Kei’s co-directed effort Coffee Or Tea. I have tickets to none of those, and yet I got tickets to 10 other films. It’s a crowded festival, indeed.

- Continuing with yesterday’s story about Shukan Bunshun’s worst films of 2007, Ryuganji has a thorough report on not only on the worst 10 list, but also the so-called best 10 list that they put together as well.

- After a serious of violent demonstrations over its historical inaccuracies, authorities in an Indian Hindu region has suspended screenings of the big-budget film Jodhaa Akbar, the latest film from the director of the Oscar-nominated Lagaan. The distributor/producer has vowed to fight the suspension.

- It’s review time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the running-themed drama Naoko, starring Juri Ueno and was mentioned earlier this week in the box office report.

- I’ve learned two things from the user-voted results of the Yahoo! Music Awards in Japan: Singing three albums’ worth of cover songs can get you Best Male Artist, and someone who had a PR disaster from being extremely rude at her own film’s premiere can still have a successful music career.

- In an effort to try and push its box office to match Kung Fu Hustle, CJ7’s distributor have lowered ticket prices to HK$45 for all general admissions at all cinemas (a general admission ticket costs anywhere from $55 to $75 in Hong Kong). That strategy isn’t going to work when the film had only so-so word-of-mouth, but good luck anyway!

The Golden Rock - February 22nd, 2008 Edition

- Hong Kong saw five films enter the box office charts on opening day yesterday. Nevertheless, expect Hollywood films Jumper and Enchanted fight for the top spot for the weekend. Among the opening films, the horror film The Mist did the best with HK$253,000 from 24 screens. The other wide release, the Rashomon-style thriller Vantage Point, opened on 29 screens for an opening of HK$173,000. In limited releases, Oscar nominees Juno and No Country For Old Men opened to respectable grosses, making HK$137,000 from 11 screens and HK$97,000 from 7 screens, respectively. The 5th non-Oscar nominated limited release, The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, made HK$47,000 from 3 screens on opening day. More on Monday.

-  According to Hong Kong newspapers, Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun has named Genghis Kahn: To The Ends of the Earth and Sea the worst film of 2007. I kind of called it OK in my review, but really, it was pretty laughably bad.

Here is the top (bottom?) ten films (original Japanese list):

1) Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea
2) Koizora (Sky of Love)
3) Last Love (the one with Misaki Ito and Masakazu Tamura)
4) Love Never to End (Ai No Rukeichi)
5) Kantoku Banzai
6) Dororo
7) Saiyuki
8) For Those We Love
9) Hero (come on, it wasn’t THAT bad)
10) (tie) Inland Empire and The Mourning Forest

Source from Apple Daily

- Looks like the ban of Hollywood films in China is coming to an end, as three Hollywood films have been greenlit for release in March: 10,000 B.C., The Golden Compass, and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

- Not again: Deceased Japanese pop star Zard will see another one of her unreleased songs released to make a few bucks, and it will even be used as the theme song for the new Detective Conan movie. How thorough did her record company search her place to find these recordings?

- Twitch has a more violent trailer of Dennis “Love @ First Note” Law’s latest Fatal Move. It could be good, but it’s Dennis Law, so I can’t say I have a lot of faith in it. Certainly looks category III, though.

The Golden Rock - February 21st, 2008 Edition

- Edison Chen has returned to Hong Kong alive and limbs intact. Oh, he also apologized many times and says he quits Hong Kong entertainment. However, he didn’t say whether he’ll give up his career in Hollywood as well.

Here’s the video

The always-informative EastSouthWestNorth reports on the always-controversial Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority’s way of classifying the photos (they were classified because they were subsequently published partially in Hong Kong magazines and for the courts to determine whether the police had a case against those who uploaded the photos). While showing private parts can be considered “obscene,” it’s hard to believe that one adjudicator actually believed that Bobo Chan and Edison Chen’s tongues ought to be blacked out.

- Time for Japanese box office numbers: L: Change The World is still rocking the Japanese box office, despite losing a higher-than-usual 41% of its business (in all fairness, it had a huge opening weekend, so a huge drop was inevitable). The Glorious Team Batista lost 35%, retaining a second place finish. With screen count and gross reported, Elizabeth: The Golden Age’s opening isn’t all that impressive after all. With nothing big opening until The Golden Compass on March 1st, expect L to continue its rule on the box office.

By the way, if you’re wondering what Naoko is, it’s the new sports drama starring Juri Ueno. Check out a trailer here.

- In Korean box office, Jumper took the number one spot as expected (it’s not a very good movie, but it wasn’t that bad), and the low-budget thriller The Chaser (which actually got a 500-screen release, that’s even more than Jumper) opened not too far behind at second place. More from Mark Russell at Korea Pop Wars.

- It’s Oricon charts time! On the singles chart, Porno Graffiti has the number 1 single, doing much better than the film the single is the theme song to. On the albums chart, M-Flo’s latest compilation barely debuts on top. More from Tokyograph.

By the way, Jero, Japan’s first Black enka singer (as introduced by Japan Probe), released his first single 2 days ago, and it has already gone up to 6th place on its second day. Seriously, he’s not that bad of a singer, just never make an MTV like that again.

And Japanese pop duo Kobukuro’s Tsubomi is now the most downloaded cell phone ringtone of a Japanese pop song ever.

- The Hong Kong Film Development Fund, which pours government money up to 40% of an approved film’s budget, has given money to its first two films. The first is the latest McDull film, and the second is Claustrophobia, Ivy Ho’s directorial debut starring Ekin Cheng and Karena Lam that was previously reported on this blog. Apparently, Claustrophobia was approved despite its artsy premise because of those involved.

-  With the program for the Hong Kong International Festival announced, the organizers have announced that Japanese directors Yoji Yamada and Yuya Ishii will be getting honors at the Asian Film Awards.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at how China is slowly losing grip of its media and people by trying to grip harder ahead of the Olympics.

-  Continuing with Japan’s “let’s make movies out of songs” trend, Liar Game star Erika Toda will star in a short drama based on a Monkey Majik song that will be distributed online. It’s part of a series of such films from Fuji TV.

- The poster for the third (and reportedly the last) Patrick Kong-Stephy Tang-Alex Fong Lik-Sun film L for Love, L for Lies is out, and it’s…Okinawa Rendezvous?!  Ready for it or not, it’s coming out on March 13th.

- Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company has announced they will remake the famous Japanese comic Akira into two live-action films. Apparently, the remake will stick to the original comic rather than the classic animated film.

- Variety’s Russell Edwards has a review for the anticipated low-budget ultraviolent cult film Machine Girl.

- Under “Hong Kong gossip not really worth reporting globally” news today, Hong Kong director Ringo Lam was arrested for getting into a fight with his neighbor, who may or may not have thrown a bucket at his car. Obviously, this neighbor didn’t see what Ringo Lam did to Kelly Lin in his section of Triangle.

The Golden Rock - February 19th, 2008 Edition

We’re kind of busy this week at The Golden Rock, but let’s do some number crunching anyway:

- Sad news from Hong Kong this morning: Actress and television personality Lydia Shum (better known as Fei Fei in Hong Kong) passed away at the age of 62. Fei Jei has been in poor health in recent years, and last appeared during local network TVB’s anniversary show in a surprise appearance.

Report from Variety

- Here’s an update on the box office for Lunar New Year films in Hong Kong (in order of release date), as of January 17th:

CJ7 - 18 days, HK$48.73 million

Sweeney Todd - 18 days, HK$8.28 million

L - Change the WorLd - 11 days (including previews), HK$7.25 million

Kung Fu Dunk - 11 days, HK$8.1 million

Enchanted - 11 days, HK$22.32 million

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (from 3 screens) - 11 days, HK$640,000

CJ7 is losing its momentum now, and it probably won’t make it to match Kung Fu Hustle’s take. Kung Fu Dunk is also slowing down considerably, and won’t get to HK$10 million, making it the flop of the season as the first Jay Chou film to not hit HK$10 million. Meanwhile, L will probably surpass Kung Fu Dunk in total take by the weekend, but I doubt that it’ll match the success of the two Death Note films. Nevertheless, it might have a chance for HK$10 million, which is a great take for a Japanese film. Enchanted is still topping the box office, so I think HK$30 million is not entirely unrealistic.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood sci-fi film Jumper made HK$6.13 million over 4 days from 38 screens. and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood made HK$230,000 over 4 days from just 3 screens.

- No Japanese box office numbers yet. The audience attendance figures indicate that L took the top spot for a second weekend in a row (though I’m more interested to know how much business it lost), and the medical mystery The Glorious Team Batista also stayed at second place. It may surprise some, but Elizabeth: The Golden Age managed a 3rd place opening. However, that’s because the first film was a fairly big hit in Japan, taking over 1.5 billion yen back in 1999. Lastly, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium opened at 5th place.

-My mistake: The British documentary Earth may be the highest-grossing documentary in Japan in the last ten years after crossing the 2 billion yen-mark, but Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad will remain the all-time champion in attendance figures. With inflation, the 1964 documentary would’ve made 8.5 billion yen with today’s ticket prices.

- In Japanese drama ratings, this season’s ratings are so depressing that I don’t even feel like reporting them anymore. But here they are anyway: Honey and Clover, Saito-San, The Negotiator, and Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai all hit their lowest ratings with 8.6%, 13.0%, 12.7%, and a measly 8.9, respectively.

In better news, Lost Time Life managed to rebound to a season-high 12.3% rating, and Mirai Koushi Meguru bounced back in a big way with a 10.5% rating.

- Kimutaku is back on Japanese TV drama! This time, Kimura Takuya play an elementary school teacher who somehow ends up becoming Japan’s Prime Minister. With not much positive support for the current Japanese government, I’m sure a fantasy world where a Smap member becomes their head honcho would be a nice change.

- I might’ve reported this before: Spring 2007’s hit drama Proposal Daisakusen is getting a special episode, and it’s now scheduled to air on March 25th (I think this is the news part).

- I was supposed to report on this a long time ago: Tokyo Tower was the big winner of the Japan Academy Awards, but it didn’t repeat the pattern of films in the past that were nominated in almost all the categories by winning only five awards. However, those awards were best supporting actor, best actress, best director, best screenplay, and best picture, so I don’t think the team is sad over it.

Meanwhile, Always 2 only won two awards: best actor and best sound recording. I Just Didn’t Do It won only won 3 awards, including best supporting actress, best art direction, and best film editing, which must’ve been disappointing to some, considering that it’s been sweeping the other awards.

Full list of winners here

- While only two Asian films in competition title won at Berlin (Wang Ziaoshuai for In Love We Trust and Reza Najie for the Iranian film The Song of Sparrows), Japanese film won many other awards at the festival. Those awards include United Red Army winning several awards, and Izuru Kamasaka winning Best First Feature for Park and Love Hotel.

All the details are at Jason Gray’s blog.

- Considering its controversial censorship system, it’s surprising that not one, but two films that deal with homosexuality managed to win major awards at Thailand’s Subhanahongsa Awards.

- It’s reviews time! Or rather, it’s time for a compilation of reviews for Johnnie To’s Sparrow, which got a far better reception in Europe than from English-speaking critics.

The Golden Rock - February 14th, 2008 Edition

Apologies for taking an impromptu holiday from the blog. Like the rest of Hong Kong, the New Years holiday has taken a toll on this blogger. At least he’s now well-rested.

- First, legendary Japanese director Kon Ichikawa, whose career spanned 62 years and 76 films, passed away at 92 years old of pneumonia. He was still working up to last year on an installment in the omnibus film Ten Nights of Dreams. Jason Gray has an article he wrote for Screen International on his blog.

- A quick catch-up on the Hong Kong New Years box office. Here are the Lunar New Year films and how they’re doing as of yesterday (2/13). These are in order of their release dates:

CJ7 - 14 days, HK$44.6 million

Sweeney Todd - 14 days, HK$7.88 million

Enchanted - 7 days, HK$16.09 million (this has overtaken CJ7 as the number 1 film in these few days)

Kung Fu Dunk - 7 days, HK$6.78 million

L - Change the WorLd - 5 days (plus 3 days of previews), HK$5.29 million.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (this opened on New Year’s Day on 3 screens) - 7 days, HK$430,000

The good news is that the Lunar New Year films are doing fairly well this year (even a category III musical can make almost 8 million), the better news is that not everyone ended up buying into Kung Fu Dunk, and the bad news is that it’s one of the two only Chinese films in a holiday most celebrated by Chinese people.

- Three of these films are also playing in Japan, and I’ve already reported on how well Sweeney Todd is doing there (1.67 billion yen and counting). As for L, it had a phenomenal opening during the holiday weekend, making 572 million yen from 388 screens. While this is 140% of the first Death Note film’s opening, Mr. Texas of Eiga Consultant reminds us that it was also 75% of the second Death Note film’s opening. This opening might have been helped by the fact that NTV, the film’s backing TV network, showed the two films beforehand.

However, don’t count out the medical mystery Team Batista No Eiko, which also had a strong opening weekend with 264 million yen from 284 screens. Not so lucky is the Japanese film Kids, which opened fairly weak to begin with and lost 42% of its business in its second weekend. Oh, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly also made an impressive 7.46 million yen from just 5 screens (that’s a roughly US$13,000 per-screen average). Not doing so well in limited release is Lust, Caution, which has only made 79.5 million yen after 2 weeks from 77 screens (that’s a roughly US$2,300 per-screen average each week).

With 1.78 billion yen and counting after 5 weekends (that would be a typo in Variety), the documentary Earth is now the highest-grossing documentary ever in Japan.

- Kung Fu Dunk and L also opened in Taiwan, and both had fairly strong openings. However, nothing came close to beating CJ7’s major invasion of Asia.

- It’s reviews time! From Berlin are: Derek Elley’s review of Johnnie To’s latest Sparrow, which sounds like it’s Yesterday Once More meets Throwdown.  From Variety’s Russell Edwards is a review of Yoji Yamada’s domestic hit Kabei - Our Mother. Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee chimes in with her own review as well. Derek Elley also has a review of Night and Day, the latest from South Korean director Hong Sang-Soo.

- It’s also trailers time! Everything’s from Kaiju Shakedown today - a teaser for Cyborg She, the first Japanese film from My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae-Young. I can imagine him on set telling his make-up people, “Just make the guy look like Cha Tae-Hyun!” Also, there’s a Spanish-dubbed trailer for the Pang Brother’s self-remake of Bangkok Dangerous. Yes, it looks pretty terrible, though it may just be the Spanish. Also, there’s the trailers for the indie Japanese ensemble comedy Hey Japanese! (The full name is far too long) and for Koki Mitani’s latest The Magic Hour, which looks surprisingly visually appealing.

That’s it for now, y’all.  Not completely caught up, but we’re getting there. Copyright © 2002-2019 Ross Chen