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Archive for March, 2008

The Golden Rock - March 7th, 2008 Edition

- According to the supposed reliable Oriental Daily in Hong Kong (and in turn, The Hollywood Reporter Asia), Lust, Caution star Tang Wei has been banned from Chinese media by the government because of her role in Ang Lee’s erotic espionage thriller. Supposedly, the government wasn’t happy with Lust, Caution and is determined to bring down anyone involved in the controversial sex scenes, especially its main actress. Since this news is not confirmed (and likely will never be), we have no idea whether this is true or not. If it is so, this is a pretty sleazy thing to do even for the Chinese government. Or they must just really hate skincare products.

- Like last year’s Confession of Pain from Hong Kong, Warner Bros. has been quick to buy up this year’s big crime hit, the Korean serial killer thriller The Chaser. Also like the Confession of Pain remake, William Monahan and Leonardo DiCaprio may be involved.

- Despite the Lunar New Year and taking a majority of the market, box office gross for Korean films has once again dropped for February. This time, admissions are down 3.7% from the same period in 2007, despite the hit handball film Forever the Moment and the current hit The Chaser.

- Hot off her win at the Golden Arrow Awards, Yui Aragaki will next star as a high school bookworm who joins a one-member cheerleader team to get closer to her baseball player crush. Only in the world a movies would Yui Aragaki play a bookworm who can’t get a boyfriend.

- We reported on Chen Kaige’s biopic Mei Lanfang finishing shooting. Today, Hollywood Reporter Asia has a complete feature on the film.

That’s it for now. Have to save some for the rest of the weekend.

The Golden Rock - March 5th/6th, 2008 Edition

- In Korean box office, The Chaser took the top spot for a third week. It now has past the 3 million admission mark, and has not much signs of stopping. Meanwhile, art films and Oscar films flop. More details at Korea Pop Wars.

- It’s Oricon charts time! While the usual popsters such as News (with their 8th consecutive #1 single) and Exile top the single chart, African-American enka singer Jero managed to sell even more copies of his debut single than its first week in stores. However, because of the crowded market, he still fell one place on the chart.

On the album side, BoA sees her 6th consecutive #1 album, while a bunch of foreign acts join her in the top 10.

See the full report at Tokyograph.

- It’s also the Billboard Japan charts time! This one is a little different because the chart also adds in radio airplay to gauge a song’s popularity. As a result, Jero is all the way down at 13th place, because enka doesn’t usually get much radio play. That’s also the reason why Hikaru Utada’s latest is placed higher, because it’s on the top of the airplay chart for the second week in a row. Other than that, the charts are mostly similar.

- The always informative Eiga Consultant looks at how several films did in Japan over the weekend.

First, the latest One Piece movie opened at only 98% of the previous One Piece film, which made 900 million yen. Looks like this film will probably not get to the 1 billion yen mark either.

On the other hand, the third and latest Keroro movie outdid its previous installment and the first film by 117 and 103%, respectively.

Lastly, the war trial film Ashita He No Yuigon opened 6th place with 77.68 million yen, which is only 66% of director Takashi Koizumi’s previous film Hakase No Ashita sushiki.

- A Chinese senior official says that China cannot have a ratings system for films because it would be like “legalizing the mass production of pornographic publications.” Er…you guys won’t be allowing porn in anyway, so what’s there to worry about?

“China had yet to build a mature and orderly film market.” I think replacing “market” with “audience” would be a more accurate way of putting it.

- The Korean Film Archive managed to find a copy of the 1934 silent film The Crossroads of Youth, now known as the oldest Korean film in existence. Thankfully, 8 of the 9 reels are still in playable condition, and I sure hope it’s not the reel with twist ending.

- Chinese director Chen Kaige has wrapped up filming for his latest biopic Mei Lanfang, starring Leon Lai and Zhang Ziyi. However, the film has no expected release date or upcoming participation in any film festival.

The biggest doubts to Chinese press, on the other hand, is whether Twins member Gillian Chung, which is taking a public opinion beating in Hong Kong, will still be in the film. She plays the younger version of titular character Mei Lanfang’s second wife.

- Under “various Japanese awards” news today, Exile picked up Artist of the Year at the Japan Gold Disc Awards, unseating Koda Kumi. They also won the Album of the Year award. GReeen picked up the Best New Artist of the year award, while Hikaru Utada picked up Single of the Year with Flavor of Life, even though this fan thought it was her most mediocre hit.

Meanwhile, Yui Aragaki picked up the film prize at the 45th Golden Arrow Awards. Meanwhile, Rinko Kikichi somehow managed to pick up one of the Best Newcomer Awards, which is sad because she’s actually been in Japanese films for a few years now. Then again, they’ve been around for 45 years, so they must have credibility.

- It’s reviews by Russell Edwards time! Variety’s Russell Edwards coincidentally reviews all the films covered by the blog today: First, he reviews Chocolate, the new muay Thai action film from the director of Ong Bak. Then he reviews the documentary Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking. Lastly, he looks at the Thai gay teen romance film The Love of Siam.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee takes a look at Stephen Chow’s CJ7, which goes on limited release this weekend in the United States.

- In related news, The Love of Siam picked up six awards at the Bangkok Critics Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay.

- Another reason to put a film in this year’s Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival: The winner of the Off-Theater competition will win 2 million yen.

- Jet Li and Jackie Chan reportedly had a hand in changing the script for their latest Hollywood film Forbidden Kingdom, changing the “traveling back in time” element to simply part of the main character’s dream. Good, that means one less movie where a foreign kid goes to China and save the world.

- In case you need another reason to see Koki Mitani’s latest film The Magic Hour, the film will feature a ton of cameos, including director Kon Ichikawa in his final film appearance.

The Golden Rock - March 4th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Saito-san sees its season-low ratings, as well as One Point Gospel. The Negotiator wraps up with an OK-13.2 rating (not too far below its premiere’s 16.7 rating). Meanwhile, Honey and Clover’s freefall continues to 8.0 this past week, while Bara No Nai Hanaya managed to recover slightly with a 16.5 rating. Lost Time Life stays steady, Edison No Haha saw a pretty good boost, and Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai’s ratings increase didn’t last longer than a week.

- This news was first found at Eiga Consultant. The 2005 German documentary Our Daily Bread broke attendance record during its 4-month run at one Tokyo theater. Both reports contribute the film’s success to concerns about food safety for Chinese-made food, but there’s also Japan’s tendencies to put wrong expiry dates and screws in food that added to the concern.

- Meanwhile, the controversial Bollywood epic Jodhaa Akbar has now surpassed the 1 billion rupee mark at the box office. Meanwhile, courts overturned the Madhya Pradesh government’s ban, while violent protests interrupt screenings and screenings are still blocked in some regions.

In case you want to know what the hoopla is all about, Hollywood Reporter has a review.

- Under “Edison Chen’s career freefall” news today, his latest Hong Kong film Sniper has now been pushed back to May from a planned March 29th release date. However, distributor Media Asia states that it’s because the Mainland Chinese authorities has yet to approved the film, which is necessary for all co-productions (this also means the cops win by default at the end of the film).

On a side note, distributors in Taiwan for Pang Ho-Cheung’s Trivial Matters has decided to add in the advertising that this film is Edison Chen’s final film before he announced his retirement from showbiz. This is inaccurate, since he still has Sniper and possibly Stephen Fung’s Jump.

-Poor China: The EU and the United States are always bullying the poor authoritarian country. First it was over intellectual property, and now the two political giants are going to the WTO over China’s block of foreign media agencies. China granted the Xinhua News Agency with sole discretion on giving out media license to foreign organizations, which apparently blocks out other news agencies such as Reuters and Bloomberg.

- Chinese TV and film writers, inspired by their American counterparts, met up to talk about how to protect the copyrights of their intellectual property. The thing is, unlike Hollywood writers, they’re not even looking for more money: They just want their rights protected and their work respected.

- I missed out on this a few days ago when it was on Nippon Cinema: There’s a teaser out for the sequel to the kiddie-oriented live-action adaptation of Gegege No Kitaro. It seems like they’re aiming for a more serious film this time around, but trailers have been deceptive before, so I’m being extremely cautious about this one.

-  Not only will the upcoming Japanese epic sci-fi trilogy 20th Century Boys be Japan’s highest-budgeted film ever at 6 billion yen, it’s now been announced that the film will feature a cast of 300 people. In other words, expect to see a lot of “policeman #_” when the credits come up.

- I never knew that Takashi Kitano has his own awards show, AND he gives awards to his own movies there!

- With actions being taken to help the industry and a reversal of the ban on Indian films, will Pakistani cinema slowly flourish?

-  Twitch has a link to an interview with former Ghibli studio head Suzuki Toshio, who talks a bit about Hayao Miyazaki’s upcoming Ponyo on a Cliff.

-  Believe it or not, Maggie Cheung has not appeared in a film since 2004, and she says she’s actually quite OK with that.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 3/3/2008

- It was a moderately busy weekend in Hong Kong box office this weekend. Dennis Law’s Fatal Move, which promised audiences old-school category-III style triad violence, managed to top the box office on Sunday, making HK$612,000 from 29 screens HK$2.15 million over the 4-day weekend. I’m just happy that it beat Meet The Spartans, which is in second place  with HK$407,000 from 31 screens for a HK$1.68 million 4-day total. Depressingly, the only other opening film to make it on the top 10 is the Hollywood romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman, which made HK$690,000 from 10 screens over the weekend (not sure if this includes the previews from the previous week). That means Jingle Ma’s Playboy Cops, the Korean film Le Grand Chef, and the Japanese horror film Kaidan all didn’t make it to the top 10.

As for holdovers, Enchanted was still at 3rd place on Sunday with 331,000 from 34 screens for a 25-day total of HK$27.44 million. 30 million may be slightly out of reach, but it’s still excellent for a film that features no recognizable star in Hong Kong (er…I guess Susan Sarandon counts?). Juno made HK$288,000 from 11 screens for a 2-weekend total of HK$2.68 million. No Country for Old Men is not far behind with HK$283,000 from 8 screens for a 2-weekend total of HK$2.01 million.

- In Japanese attendance figures, The Golden Compass knocked L off the top spot as expected.  Two animated films also hit the field, making for a very family-friendly weekend (probably due to the start of Spring vacation in Japan for kids). Meanwhile, war trial film Best Wishes For Tomorrow opened at 6th place, and Wrestling with a Memory, which I’ll be catching at the Hong Kong Film Festival, debuts at 7th place. More when the numbers come out.

The Golden Rock - March 2nd, 2008 Edition

- It’s Taiwan music charts time! This week on the G-Music charts, Aska Yang got its first place back after Gary Cao regained his top spot last week. Cao dropped down to 3rd place, which is still damn good after 9 weeks on the chart. Another strong performer to Joanna Wang, whose debut album is still at 2nd place after spending 7 weeks on the chart. The best-performing newcomer is the Grammy compilation album all the way down at 15th place. Other than that, sales are kind of depressing right now.

- It’s reviews time! This week from Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is Doko Ni Iku No, the first film in 22 years from cult director Yoshihiko Matsui. Also included is an interview with the director himself. Also, there’s a review of Yoji Yamada’s Kabei from Twitch reviewer The Visitor.

- The latest film from Japanese director Daisuke Tengen may be attracting lots of attention not because Tengen is the son of late legendary director Shohei Imamura, but because of its…ahem…climatic scene.

-Walking by a Hong Kong video store that sells DVDs of Mainland content will tell you the same thing Variety is about to tell you: Chinese producers are making too many TV series without the airtime to broadcast them.

- Hollywood, now seeing the spending potential of the Chinese population, have devoted more money and time to exploit entertain the Chinese audience with films about and/or filmed in China. However, as the producers of Shanghai has learned, you have to play by the government’s rules.

- One of the films opening in Japan this weekend is the drama Ashita he no Yuigon, about the trial of a Japanese B-class war criminal. The Daily Yomiuri has two articles on it - one on the writers, who had to do thorough research in order to stay objective, and one on the actors, who had to recite actual testimonies from ther real-life counterparts. What they didn’t have is an actual review of the movie.

- Japanese record companies have plenty of ways to make money of fans (one compilation, two differently colored albums, anyone?), but this one takes the cake: the record company of the pop collective AKb48 (48 members and counting) is holding a special concert, and fans only get a chance to go if they get all 44 posters that come with their latest single. Let’s do the math: 1200 yen per single, multiply by 44 copies (only if the buyer happens to get a different poster each time). That means a stupid lucky fan has to spend over 50,000 yen to see the group live. After receiving numerous complaints and possible violation of fair business practices, the record company has now canceled their plans.

The sad part is I can easily imagine a Hong Kong record company doing this, except for the canceling part.

- After finding a few new hits, Korean cinema is now doing what Hollywood does best: Hit films getting potentially unnecessary upcoming sequels include 200 Pounds Beauty, Le Grand Chef, Tezza: The High Rollers, and The Host.

-In 1985, legendary director Akira Kurosawa began filming a documentary while filming for his epic film Ran stopped because of financing problems. However, he never finished the documentary when filming for Ran resumed. Now, his son plans to complete his father’s unfinished film and release it by 2010, the 100th anniversary of the director’s birth.

- Shawn Yue has already been in 4 movies in the past 8 months (Invisible Target, Trivial Matters, Playboy Cops, Shamo), and now we can add another one to the list: Rule #1, the new horror film from Singaporean director Kelvin Tong.

- What do you get for releasing your high-profile, award-winning film with a studio head as your producer uncensored, despite getting a rating that would kill any commercial prospects? An award for freedom of expression from the theater owners who didn’t want you to do so in the first place.

- Two Chinese groups that represent Chinese musicians and songwriters are suing the Chinese search engine Baidu for allowing users to find and download songs for free through its website, thus using illegal downloads to boost its advertising revenues. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen