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Archive for June, 2008

The Golden Rock - June 30th, 2008 Edition

Not much time today, so I’m leaving the number crunching for tomorrow.

- Something has captured the premiere of the first trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea from the NTV morning show. Yukie Nakama is onscreen because she was on the show to promote the final episode of Gokusen, hence the Yankumi look and all. There’s also a second longer trailer in Japanese theaters that I saw, but for now, I dare you to try get that song out of your head.

Also in the world of Japanese trailers, there’s an official trailer for the mega-budget 20th Century Boys, which already has advertisements on TV several times a day, and actually shows off more than this trailer.  There’s also the second teaser for Tetsuya Nakashima’s latest Paco and the Magic Picture Book. On the other hand, from the well-known assemble cast to the screenful of cgi, this seems to have the ingredient for a mega-disaster, even if I’m a big fan of Nakashima’s work.

- Nippon cinema has a write-up on the release of the Hana Yori Dango movie, and even reports that the first day attendance seems to point to a mega 10 billion yen take. More when the numbers do come out.

- The Korean Grand Bell Awards happened last night, and The Chaser was the big winner by taking home six awards, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor. Meanwhile, Yunjin Kim picked up the Best Actress Award for the thriller Seven Days, which somehow managed to pick up the Best Editing Award too. Andrew Lau must be proud.

- This all comes on the heels of a critical summer season for Korean films. With The Public Enemy Returns as the first Korean film to top the box office in 3 months, the major studios are now turning to tentpole blockbusters instead of horror films to battle the Hollywood monsters.

- Korean Star Song Hye-Kyo has not only signed up to star in John Woo’s latest film; she’s also joining producer Terence Cheng’s newly-formed talent agency. It’s no surprise, as Song has made a name for herself in the Chinese-speaking region for her roles in several well-known Korean dramas. This is also the agency co-founded by Michelle Yeoh and reportedly took on Isabella Leung, resulting in the current legal debacle.

- The sale of Universe Entertainment by major stockholder Daneil Lam has reported been canceled, though not much else is known.

- After announcing their move into talent management and film, major Japanese record label Avex will be producing their own musical that will feature 21 classic songs from the label’s artists.

- The controversial Chinese search engine Baidu has signed up for a major partnership with three major record companies to provide legal music streaming on its site. Now the Western record labels just need to learn how to play nice.

The Golden Rock - June 26th, 2008 Edition

Not a lot of news today:

- The Indian comglomerate Reliance’s investment for Hollywood studio Dreamworks has not been finalized yet, and may even just be used for the studio head as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with other studios. In other words, India is in Hollywood just yet.

- Another Japanese comic is being adapted for live-action film, although the idea sounds pretty interesting this time: a boy who washes the windows of apartments in an orbital ring around Saturn after Earth becomes uninhabitable.

- It’s reviews time! Variety’s Leslie Felperin has the first review for Christopher Doyle’s second directorial effort Warsaw Dark. Also, Variety’s Andrew Barker has a review of the documentary Hannari Geisha Modern.

- The hit Korean film The Host will have a sequel. However, instead of having Bong Joon-Ho direct again, the sequel will be a Chinese-Korean co-production with Crazy Stone director Ning Hao as director.  Also, being a Chinese co-production, the film will naturally be eliminated of the original film’s political content.

- Japanese boy band KAT-TUN member Tatsuya Ueda will have to prove that he actually has talent by not only directing his own 90-minute solo show, but he will also have to write and compose all the songs to be performed in the concert.

- Twitch has an interview with Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura.

- Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry said in a forum in Hong Kong that Japanese cinema should work more with its neighbors in Asia such as Hong Kong and China. It would be a good start if they make more original works instead of TV drama adaptation first, then actually put English subtitles on their DVDs.

- Han Cinema has the final trailer for Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Holy. Shit.

The Golden Rock - June 25th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! This week, Johnny’s Tegomass scored the top-ranking single, while GReeeN! is still at 2nd place. Also, Korean boy group SS501 managed a 4th place debut, with the DOZHI-T’s single now poised to be the new R&B long-term hit of the year.

On the albums chart, B’z sells a ton of its latest compilation for a top spot debut, while Bump of Chicken (that name still doesn’t make sense to me) has a second place debut with its latest B-side collection.

More at Tokyograph.

- The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival has announced the lineup for its latest edition, which will include Kelvin Tong’s Rule No. 1 (Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue teams up!) and the 2008 thriller hit The Chaser.

- Instead of going from one site to another for new Japanese trailers original found on Youtube anyway, I’ve found one of the major sources - the cinemanian channel on Youtube. So from now on, I’ll mostly be linking new Japanese film trailers to them, unless there’s something not found there.

With that said, there’s a teaser already up for Akai Ito, the film-drama adaptation of a successful cell phone novel.

- There’s also a teaser for Ryoo Seung-Wan’s Dachimawa Lee, which shows absolutely nothing from the actual film.

- Speaking of Youtube, the Washington Post writes about Japanese internet video counterpart Nico Nico Douga, which display user comments in the form of floating comments across the screen. In addition to that annoying feature, the excessive otaku content makes it a site I have an account for, but don’t access so much.

- Despite Hong Kong’s government’s promises to help the ailing movie industry, not every department is apparently so willing to help out when the time comes. Hong Kong Film blog reports that the new Stephy Tang comedy about underwear could not film a scene involving Stephy running in the middle of hanging underwear at their planned site because Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department invoked a regulation banning hanging clothing to stop the filming at the park. They also stated that the production cannot use “illegal means to embarrass the government”, whatever the hell that means.

I’ve run into the LSCD personally in our school’s productions, and their policy of requiring any production (even a zero budget student one) to buy a third-party insurance of HKD$3 million in order to even apply to film at their parks is definitely one of the major pains of low-budget film productions in Hong Kong. That’s why I’m not particularly surprised that this would happen to even a major film production.

- Japanese singer misono, aka Koda Kumi’s sister, is appearing in the previously mentioned Japan-US co-production The Harimiya Bridge, about a man going to Japan to investigate his son’s death. Misono was on a variety show last week where she had to stand at Shibuya Crossing and wait for people to recognize her. Only three people walked up to talk to her within 30 minutes, while her competitors saw 25-70 in the same time range.

- China Star, a major film investor in Hong Kong cinema(including many Milky Way films), is reducing their stakes in film production. This follows news last week that major investors were backing out of their commitment to Universe Entertainment.

- With the Hana Yori Dango film opening this weekend, another popular “Hana” is coming back in the spotlight. Comic Hanazakari no Kimitachi He will return for a special one-shot issue next month in comic form.

- Universal Music has signed up as Disney Music’s distributor in the Asian region, except for Japan, where they can presumably do their own distribution.

- The new teaser poster for Patrick Kong’s first film after his “Stephy-Alex ‘The Swimmer’ Fong Trilogy” is now in Hong Kong, and the text looks to suggest that it’ll be a romantic thriller. I can’t even see that damn English title. Anyway, the text on the poster roughly translate to this:

“After Marriage With a Fool, Love is Not All Around, L For Love L For Lies, a new shocking romance.

(insert big-texted title here)

A Partick Kong Film

Love turns into poison, in love with revenge
This Summer, love turns into fear”

Oh, dear.

Yukie Nakama will be the second ever female lead for the yearly TV Tokyo New Year period drama, which apparently runs every year for 10 straight hours on January 2nd.

- Japanese novelist Junichi Watanab, whose works has been turned into films such as Lost Paradise and Love Without End, is suing a Chinese publishing company for publishing translated versions of his works without buying the copyright for all of them. He should be glad the company even bothered to buy one in the first place.

- A Beijing hotel has taken back its offer to pay foreign journalists for positive stories after the actual offer became an international news story. Too bad, I would’ve taken them up on the offer.

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2008 Edition

Catching up on weekend number crunching:

- Time for Japanese box office. As expected, Paramount included last week’s sneak preview numbers to boost their opening weekend figures for Indiana Jones. After deducting the 597 million yen figure reported by Eiga Consultant last week, the actual opening weekend number is actually roughly USD$7,890,000, or 847 million yen from 789 screens. Meanwhile, The Magic Hour continues to do well, losing only 12% of business and now passed the 2 billion yen mark. Aibou continues to have similar holding power, losing only 13.7% of business and is now past the 4 billion yen mark at the box office. In fact, nothing on the top 10 dropped by more than 26% at the box office this weekend, making for quite a healthy weekend in Japan.

In the battle of the two family-friendly films, the music-themed August Rush did much better with a 3rd place debut, thanks to the shameless advertisement, which literally asks potential audience to “please cry”. The other film, the Japanese-language The Witch of the West is Dead, debut all the way down at 6th place, and was actually on less screens to begin with.

- Finally some good news from Korean cinema, as The Public Enemy Returns rocketed to the top of South Korean box office with 1.6 million, outdoing Hollywood challengers Get Smart and 21.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Despite some nonsensical complaints against it, Hollywood’s Kung Fu Panda reached the earthquake-strickened Sichuan Prefecture in China and is expected to do quite well. In fact, it already made about 10 million RMB this past weekend. The fact that the performance artist who complained against the film includes panda images in his work just says so much about his motives anyway.

- It’s Japanese TV drama ratings time! As previously mentioned, this season’s bona-fide hit Last Friends scored a season-high 22.8% rating for its last episode, after a tough start at the beginning of the season. The much talked-about drama has cliched a third-place finish with an average rating of 17.7%. That leaves Gokusen and CHANGE fighting out for first and second place. With Gokusen’s ratings still hovering below 20% this week (a slight rebound to 18.1%, actually), CHANGE may have a chance as it nears its climax these several weeks. Right now, Gokusen has an average of 22.5% (mostly likely to go up with its finale this week), and CHANGE has an average of 21.2%, which means CHANGE is still within reachable distance to a ratings victory this season.

In other ending dramas, Muri Na Renai rebounded with a 7.7% for its final episode, the third season of Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Gakari ends with a season-high 15.4%, Around 40 ends with a 15.1%, and Hokaben ends with an 8.9%. More next week, when many of the remaining dramas wrap up.

- Good news for Hins Cheung, and depressing news for Hong Kong music, as Hin Cheung’s first compilation album became the best-selling album in Hong Kong for the first half of 2008 with only 50,000 copies sold. In fact, the top selling Hong Kong albums are either concerts (Andy Lau, Eason Chan), compilations (Joey Yung, Hins Cheung), or cover albums (Alan Tam). The only original album on the chart is Taiwanese artist Joanna Wang’s debut album, which sold a measly 20,000 copies. This proves the problem in Hong Kong that illegal downloading is so prevalent that an artist’s popularity far precedes their sales figures. Just think: Denise Ho sold out all 7 of her concerts in 2006-2007, which adds up to over 70,000 people. However, her compilation sold only 20,000 copies so far.

Here’s the translated list of the top 10 best-selling albums in Hong Kong from January to May 2008, from this picture on Hong Kong’s Ming Pao:

Hins Cheung’s my 1st Best Collection
Andy Lau’s Wonderful World concert
Eason Chan’s Moving On Stage 1 concert
Love 07 compilation
Joey Yung’s Like Joey compilation
Beyond’s 25th Anniversary compilation
Alan Tam’s The Best Sound Ever Reborn
This is Classical Music compilation
Joanna Wang’s Start From Here
Denise Ho’s Goo Music Collection

-  (via Ryuganji)Ghibli World has a write-up on the latest trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest Ponyo On a Cliff By the Sea, (that’s the official title on the poster), though it followed Ghibli’s policy of providing no video content for the internet. I saw the trailer yesterday, and it looks like a return to simplicity for the master.

- Just as Japan is finished being swept up by promotional wave for The Magic Hour, TBS is now filling their screen with Hana Yori Dango all day just ahead of the film version’s opening this Saturday. After their major promotional event at the Budokan, now it’s a one-hour special on TV just before opening day.

- Despite Japan’s aggressive policy to push people to get into digital broadcasting (the previously-mentioned “analog” screen text will begin next month), a survey reveals that only about 43% of all Japanese TV-watching households are digital-ready.

- The Chinese government has enacted a law requiring all media to give the government’s emergency response efforts free publicity, part of a larger law that requires more efficient emergency reporting during large-scale disasters.

- What kind of TV actually otdoes Japan is doing low-brow reality shows? America’s ABC, for actually putting the words “holy sushi” in the ad for a xenophoblic show like “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”.

- Twitch has an interview with director Ryo Iwamatsu, whose latest film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival.

- After the surprise success of Dai Nipponjin, comedian/director/actor Hitoshi Matsumoto is reportedly already polishing the script for his follow-up film, while a possible sequel for Dai Nipponjin is also being discussed.

The Golden Rock - June 23rd, 2008 Edition

- While the Hollywood blockbusters took over the weekend at the Hong Kong box office, the big story is the impressive performance for Johnnie To’s Sparrow. With no real box office draw (Trust me, Simon Yam is not a considered a box office draw by himself in Hong Kong), the film saw a boost over the weekend with the adult audience, making HK$800,000 from 31 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.82 million. This already nearly matches the box office total for PTU, To’s last film with such an extended shoot. As for the Hollywood films, Narnia made HK$1.01 million from 47 screens for an 18-day total of HK$22.07 million, which means it has now surpassed Iron Man and is aiming to match Indiana Jones‘ HK$26 million take in Hong Kong. At second place is The Incredible Hulk, with HK$852,000 from 33 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.96 million. Business is proving to be a little slow, though that could be because of its relatively low screen count.

Hollywood parody flick Superhero Movie is doing much better than Meet the Spartans, with HK$582,000 from 21 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$2.11 million. As for limited releases, 21 did very well with its 2-screen release, making HK$64,000 for a 4-day total of HK$190,000. However, the Lawrence Lau co-directed film City Without Baseball did even worse over the weekend, with only HK$36,000 from 8 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$170,000. Similarly painful is Tsui Hark’s Missing, with only HK$74,000 from 15 screens and a 11-day total of HK$1.17 million. However, it supposedly managed to make nearly 10 million RMB over its opening weekend in China, making it a psuedo-hit (I emphasize psuedo because the budget is surely higher than that.).

- Still waiting for the relevant numbers from Japan and Korea. Meanwhile, Koki Mitani is still working hard to pimp his hit film The Magic Hour, which has now made 2 billion yen and attracted 1.6 million admissions, by running around 5 different theaters to do meet-and-greet sessions at 8 different shows over a course of 24 hours over the weekend (the last show being a 1:20 am show). Hong Kong film should promote themselves like that.

- A Russian film took the top prize at the Shanghai Internatonal Film Festival, while a local film took home the Jury Grand Prix and Best Actor. Taiwanese director Leste Chen also managed to win the Most Creative Award with the pitch for his latest film.

Also, Chinese director Wang Chao also managed to get enough funding to start shooting his next film at the same marketplace during the SIFF.

- Meanwhile, the New York Asian Film Festival has kicked off, with Hollywood Reporter giving it coverage for its first day. You can also keep up with the festival happenings from the Subway Cinema news blog.

- The Death Note films have won the DVD Data award in the Japanese films category. The hit comic-based films sold 260,000 copies as a set, making it the 10th best-selling DVD of 2007. Similar sales are expected for spin-off film L, coming out this week in Japan.

-  Last week, I included a link to the latest trailer for the animated version Storm Riders, and now the Hollywood Reporter reports that the film is complete and is set for a 200-screen release next month. 200 screens seem a little small, though, even for an animated film.

- The Japanese comic Kodomo no Kodomo is being brought to live-action from the director of last year’s Shindo. I saw a short teaser for this when I went to watch Yasukuni and have to say I was already a little disturbed. Now I’m even more disturbed to know that they actually did a series of comics with this story.  The Japanese name translate to “A Child’s Child”. Obviously, this isn’t a major studio-funded film.

The Golden Rock - June 20th, 2008 Edition

Will be away for the weekend again, so here we go with the news for the weekend:

- A surprising turnout at the opening day Hong Kong box office, as Johnnie To’s Sparrow managed to beat out all the major competition to take the top spot on its first day. From a modest 30 screens, the caper film made HK$527,000, and is poised to take the weekend if it sees a boost in adult audiences over the weekend. However, Narnia and The Incredible Hulk are breathing down its neck not too far back, with HK$460,000 and HK$410,000 each and looking to take up the younger audiences over the weekend.

As for the other opening films, Hollywood parody flick Superhero Movie is down at 4th place with HK$373,000 from 22 screens, and City Without Baseball only made HK$40,000 from 8 screens, despite the citywide blanket promotion and its multiple appearances in the news. Lastly, Las Vegas caper film 21 made HK$35,000 from 2 screens. More on Monday or Tuesday when the weekend numbers are out.

- Universe did the distribution for Sparrow, and news has come out that its major shareholder is apparently trying to exit the company and sell its share to another firm. No word on whether this will affect for their ongoing productions, which include the Pang Brothers’ Storm Riders sequel.

-  I literally read about this at three different places in the last 24 hours, along with coverage on daytime entertainment news yesterday. So I’ll just let them do all the talking: I’m talking about respected Japanese director Koji Yakusho making his directorial debut that’s now filming and looking for a release next year:

(in order of discovery)

Tokyograph report.

Jason Gray report

Variety Asia report.

I can’t tell if this will be serious like Tokyo Sonata or quirky like Dog in a Sidecar yet. Either way, I assume that Yakusho has picked up enough from all the directors he’s worked with to do fairly well with his debut. I hope.

- I wrote a half-paragraph review of The Magic Hour because I don’t want to give a full review of a film I only understood 60% of. So here’s a review from Japan Times’ Mark Schilling, someone who did understand the whole movie.

- China has issued the first set of licenses for over 200 sites to share streaming video over the internet, but failed to include some of the country’s biggest sites on that list.

- As the world slowly moves from analog to digital television broadcasting, the ASEAN (Association of Southeastern Asian Nation) has come together to set a unified standards for the member nations’ own transition.

- The Daily Yomiuri looks at the Chinese film The Western Trunk Line, a film about a rural village just after the end of the Cultural Revolution that picked up the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

- The Southern All Stars managed to cram in one more high-profile single before their hiatus, which will be featured in the latest line of a cosmetics commercial.

- This week’s Televiews Column on the Daily Yomiuri covers observations on mainstream Japanese media and how they cover recent breaking news such as the Akihabara killer and the major earthquake last week. I agree - I really don’t want to know anymore about how quickly this crazy bastard managed to slice down people, and I don’t want to see anymore cameras shoved into greiving families’ faces.

- Jason Gray also covers the latest news on Takeshi Kitano’s new film with the release of the poster. Kitano as a painter? He so crazy.

The Golden Rock in Japan - Summer 2008 Edition - Part 1

After my first year of film school, I decided to take another trip to Japan, this time for four weeks. While the biggest difference this time around is that I spend most of my time in front of a TV in an apartment at a suburban city in Saitama prefecture, some things remain the same during my trip to Tokyo a few days ago:

For example, Cameron Diaz is still pimping out cell phones:

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Yon-sama is rocking Pachinko parlors big-time now:

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They still apparently love the Death Note movies:

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In fact, they love Death Note so much that they let L sell other stuff now:

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And of course, I’m still grabbing an obscene amount of A4-sized movie posters (they sell these things at the Broadway Cinematheque, you know):

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This is only a part of brilliant movie promotions the Japanese can pull off. Of course, this is basic:

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And I guess a poster like this on each side of Shibuya Crossing is basic too:

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And this was just pretty cool:

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Then they add some crazy cross-promotion along with it. This was at the Tower Records soundtrack section.

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By the way, I did see the Ponyo on a Cliff trailer, and it looks extremely cute. As far as I can tell, it’s about a sea creature (the one in the picture above) who comes above the water and develops a friendship with a human boy. I’d say…Totoro meets Spirited Away, but I shan’t.

I saw the trailer when I went to watch Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour at the nearby theater.

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At 136 minutes, The Magic Hour is a more focused film that Mitani’s Suite Dreams, which means that it’s not as deserving of its epic length. However, from what I understood (roughly 60% of the movie), it was still a very funny film that’s a love letter to movie magic without being self-congratulatory. The gangster-vs-actor pretending to be a gangster stuff are pretty universal, and ought to travel fairly well overseas. Overall, I had a good time, and I look forward to watching it again with subtitles.

I also managed to catch the controversial documentary Yasukuni (with English subtitles):

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The intimate 100-seat theater in Shibuya. The screen seemed like a big screen TV,

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Since I did see this with subtitles, I will be reviewing this soon. The question everyone is probably asking is whether the film is anti-Japanese. While I’d say that it’s not anti-Japanese, I would say that the viewpoint can be problematic for some and I can see where the conservatives got some of their ammo against the film. It’s a film filled with emotional outbursts, so it’s expected that the response to the film is similar to what’s in the actual film.

Anyway, I’m almost halfway through my trip, and I’ll be catching at least two more films: All Around Us, and Kore-eda’s Aruitemo. Also, I’ll be covering some music stuff in the next report. Until then, back to regular news postings.

The Golden Rock - June 19th, 2008

- New Lovehkfilm reviews are up. First from Boss Kozo is the Tsui Hark flop Missing, the Japanese comedy In the Pool, and the Vietnamese action film The Rebel. Then from yours truly are reviews of the Japanese comedy Fine, Totally Fine, the Japanese arthouse horror flick The Wall Man, and the Korean comedy Radio Dayz.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! As expected, Glay’s latest single debuts at the top of the chart, just beating Koda Kumi’s first post-scandal single. Worth noting is the 7th place debut of DOZHI-T’s single, which is slowly creeping into Japanese media and is likely to have long-term legs like “Soba Ni Iru Yo” earlier this year. Meanwhile Kyosuke Himuro’s 20th anniversary compilation tops a quiet album chart, with Asian Kung-Fu Generation managing a 2nd place debut, and Coldplay all the way down at 5th place.

More at Tokyograph

- Mainly for record keeping, when Paramount wants to use the figure to boost their opening weekend box office: the latest Indiana Jones film had a weekend-long preview screenings in Japan on an astounding 772 screens, which include both subbed and dubbed versions. Over two days, it made a very impressive 597 million yen, which should tell you what kind of competition other films are coming up againist. Despite not opening day-and-date with the rest of the world, it’s looking at becoming the first 10 billion yen-grossing film of the year.

- An Indian entertainment conglomerate is looking to invest USD$500 million into Hollywood studio Dreamworks, which would allow the company to leave its current deal with Paramount Pictures and back to working at being an independent studio once more. This is especially important in terms of Asian entertainment news because while there have been quite a few Asia-Hollywood co-productions, this is the first time an Asian entertainment company is investing such a heavy amount of money into a major Hollywood studio.

- Kung Fu Panda had its Chinese premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival, who decided to not allow the public in at the last minute. Attendees reportedly said liked the film and said it represented Chinese values.

Of course, there are always party poopers who want to ruin things for everyone else, although I can see why they’d be pissed about a Hollywood studio making money off two of Chinese culture’s biggest stereotypes.

- Grady Hendix over at Kaiju Shakedown also show how the Chinese media are trying to keep a nation of restricted media receivers entertained. As I mentioned on the random thoughts bar, Kelly Chan’s wedding announcement ended up in the middle of the Hong Kong news page, because I’m sure everyone in Hong Kong cares about the star of The Empress and the Warriors getting married.

-As expected, entertainment spending in the Asia-Pacfic region is currently growing the fastest, which means major markets such as Hollywood will likely continue try and break into the market in the coming years.

- Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee turns in a review of Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, which is now easily my most anticipated film of the year. Yes, more so than Red Cliff.

- From Nippon Cinema is a write-up of the upcoming Gegege no Kitaro sequel, along with the latest trailer. I wouldn’t be so trusting of that trailer, though: The first film was advertised as a serious supernatural adventure as well, but it turned out to be a kids film.

- Indonesia, in a move to boost the local advetising industry, is banning all foreign-made advertisements and commercials. One foreign professional must be accompanied by three local staffs.

- Well-known Japanese novel Shayo, which was released post-World War II and examined the need for a social change in Japan at the time, is being adapted into a feature film. The question is how timely and how much of the novel’s social change environment will be retained.

- Kaiju Shakedown also looks at Asian movies going to North America, including Eye Infinity, which is actually a title closer to the Pang Bros.’ preference, since they called the third installment of the film The Eye 10 for similar purpose. Of course, then Lionsgate went all oriental but putting the Chinese characters for eye on the DVD cover, although the film’s Chinese name doesn’t have the word  “eye” in it.

- Lastly, Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada has her own way to remind everyone in Japan to tune in for the finale of the hit drama Last Friends tonight on Japanese TV. Utada sings the theme song, which you can hear pretty much everywhere these days.

(note: it’s a parody of the drama’s poster)

The Golden Rock - June 18th, 2008 Edition

- I missed out on the Hong Kong box office’s weekend gross, so let’s look at the box office tally up to Tuesday. As expected, The Incredible Hulk is still on top with a 6-day total of HK$6.45 million from 39 screens. Meanwhile, Narnia overtook The Happening over the weekend and is still at second place with HK$18.45 million after 13 days. The Happening got bumped all the way to 4th place with HK$2.97 million after 6 days. It’ll likely do better than Lady in the Water. The horror film was bumped by Sex and the City, which has earned HK$11.07 million after 13 days. Very impressive for a 2.5 hour-category III film.

Not-so-impressive is another water film, Tsui Hark’s Missing, which has only made HK$790,000 from 30 screens after 6 days. Its opening day gross didn’t even reach the HK$100,000 mark. It was just a matter of late advertising and unattractive promotional material. Plus, I hear it’s just not a very good film.

-  Also as expected, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour tops the Japanese box office for the second weekend in a row, losing only 25% of its phenomenal opening, despite going up against the weekend-long Indiana Jones preview screenings at pretty much every single Japanese multiplex. Everything else on the top 10 dropped over 35%, though Narnia, Aibou, and Cyborg She maintained their standings. The Taste of Fish managed to jump up in both the attendance and gross rankings, despite losing nearly 39% in business.  Dive performs rather tepidly with its 8th place opening, and Juno flops with its semi-wide release, opening at 11th place with only 22 million yen from 110 screens. On the other hand, Eastern Promises did fairly well with its 8-screen limited release.

- No Korean box office stats yet, but Variety reports that Kung Fu Panda is the fastest-earning animated film in Korean history, passing the 2 million viewer mark on its 10th day over the weekend. Meanwhile, Korean films continue their slump, with the two latest local release earning only a 7th and 9th place debut, respectively.

- Some more Shanghai Film Festival coverage: China is trying to encourage more international co-production, especially when the Chinese market is still relatively untapped, as one Chinese person goes to the movies only once every five years on average.

- Kaiju Shakedown has a link to American distributor IFC’s trailer for Johnnie To’s Mad Detective. It looks like the same exact trailer from the HK version, but there were actually some recuts in the IFC version.

- Some major news about the upcoming Astro Boy animated film by Hong Kong 3d animation house Imagi: While Warner Bros and the Weinstein Company were initially annouced as the distributor, American distributor Summit has announced that they will take over distribution is most of the world. Also, Imagi has announced the film’s voice cast, which includes Nicholas Cage and Freddy Highmore.

- There’s a new trailer for the Dante Lam, Chinese-financed animated version of the Storm Riders. By the way, the Universe-financed, Pang Brothers-director Storm Riders sequel was renamed The Storm Warriors because buyers were confused about buying a movie named Storm Riders II without seeing the first one, hence the new title.

- Japanese comedian Yuichi Kimura is making his directorial debut, a film about a money counterfeiting scheme after World War II.

- Indians prove that they can do violent protests better than the Chinese, as 70 people were arrested after they attacked MTV India’s office over a poster for their latest reality show.

- Variety’s Bonnie Schieb looks at the Japanese lesbian film Love My Life.

The Golden Rock - June 16th, 2008 Edition

Back from a short weekend trip, but will be heading out for a day trip to Tokyo tomorrow.  Don’t worry, I’ll make it up somehow.

Anyway, it’s too early for box office numbers, although numbers from Hong Kong last Friday suggest that the new Incredible Hulk will do moderate business, with Narnia being bumped to second place. More on Wednesday.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! The Spring 2008 drama is finally coming to a close in the next several weeks (except for CHANGE, which is in the middle right now). The real success this season has been the controversial Last Friends, which premiered with only a  13.9% rating.  However, its hot topic subject matters (Domestic violence! Gender crisis!) helped lift it to a season-high 20.9% rating for its second-to-last episode this  past week. However, Fuji executives are probably still sweating over CHANGE, which saw the second consecutive week of under-20% rating, although it did rebound slightly. I know a few readers out there have been wondering why I keep calling it a disappointment, despite its second place standing. However, imagine a TV drama starring Andy Lau getting beat in the ratings by a drama starring Stephy Tang. A Kimura Takuya drama is usually the top drama of the season, and I think it might’ve been hurt by the secrecy-filled promotional campaign and the extremely late start. Then again, maybe Japanese people really don’t care so much about political dramas.

Actually, ratings leader Gokusen suffered a huge drop for this week’s episode, losing to CHANGE and Last Friends with only a season-low 17.6% rating. If I remember correctly, the second installment of the drama never dipped below 20% during its  run in 2005. However, since all the dramas on Saturday and Sunday took a dip from the previous week, there’s a small chance that the major earthquake in the Northeast area of the main island might have affected television viewership. The most affected drama has to be Ryoteki Na Kanojo (It doesn’t translate to My Sassy Girl, but it’s what it is), which has not yet become the lowest drama in average ratings, but broke the 6.0 rating mark with a 5.9% rating for this week’s episode. Meanwhile, the drama with that dubious honor, Muri Na Renai, dropped again to a 6.3% rating ahead of its final episode.

Dramas that got their season-high ratings this week (and has not been mentioned) are Hokaben, Shin Kasouken no Onna, Shichi Nin no Onna Bengoshi with 9.6%, 17.1%, and 11.7%. Other than Gokusen and Ryoteki Na Kanojo, no other drama saw season-low ratings this week. Lastly, Friday night 11 pm TV Asahi drama Kimi Wa Hannin janai yo ne? wrapped up with a 9.4% rating for its final episode and an 8.9% average for the season.

- The Shanghai International Film Festival has started, with Hollywood Reporter Asia providing full coverage. However, it’s opening has not been the smoothest. First, organizers had to go for a more subdued approach to the opening after the Sichuan Earthquake. Then the press screening of the opening film had to be canceled because the print didn’t arrive. However, things are still pretty promising, with two foreign films getting their premieres. This is a big deal because the SIFF didn’t have a world premiere until 2006.

Also, going smoothly at the same time is the Shanghai Television Festival, where TV writers from Hollywood came together in a forum and presented an exhibition on editing.

- Meanwhile, the troubled Bangkok International Film Festival has finally set a date for this year’s edition, and will partly overlap the Thailand Entertainment Expo.

- Japanese animation director Kunio Kato picked up the top prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which is known as the “Cannes of animation”. The 12-minute film also picked up the Junior Jury Award under the short film section.

- After the success of The Magic Gourd in China (and pretty much nowhere else), Disney is getting ready to release their second film aimed squarely at the Chinese market. Coincidentally, the film, now in post-production, is about pandas and shot in the earthquake-affected Sichuan Province. Don’t be surprise if they reshoot to make it a disaster movie.

- The so-called “New Queen of S&M” in Japanese cinema is suffering a bit of a setback, with magazines featuring her pictures actually selling less, while her latest film is a dud in limited release. Mark Schilling of Japan Times reviewed the film earlier this month.

- Another Japanese drama sequel is on the way next season, as summer 2007 drama Sono Otoko, Fukushocho is coming back for a second round this summer.

See you all back at the same time, same page on Wednesday.

 
 
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