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Archive for July, 2008

The Golden Rock - July 27th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Taiwanese music charts time! On the G-Music General Chart this week, Jam Hsiao takes the top stop again as Christine Fan’s compilation slips down to 3rd place. Wilber Pan’s latest compilation couldn’t beat the talent show contestant, debuting at 2nd place withjust under 5% of total sales.

- More on the awards at Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival - Local hit thriller The Chaser picks up three awards, including the festival’s top prize. Meanwhile, Japanese gore film Tokyo Gore Police and Korean horror film Hansen and Gretel. As mentioned in yesterday’s entry, Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue shared the Best Actor Award.

- Also, the Pia Film Festival, which showcases feature films by new talents, has wrapped up in Japan, and Jason Gray writes a short report about the films at the festival. I managed to review two of last year’s major winners in the past year, and I hope I’ll have the chance to catch a few of this year’s Pia winning films as well.

- It’s reviews time! From Japan Times we have a review of Ryoichi Hiroki’s Your Friends from Mark Schilling and a review of the controversial Summer Palace from Giovanni Fazio. From Hollywood Reporter we have Maggie Lee’s reviews of the Singaporean film 18 Grams of Love, the Japanese gore flick Tokyo Gore Police, and the Thai film Dream Team.

- And this week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the excessive amount of comedians on Japanese TV and a bunch of made-for-TV movies just before the Olympics.

- The baseball drama Rookies wrapped up last night. But with its impressively steady ratings and positive word-of-mouth, do you really expect TBS to simply let it go away? Of course not!

- Another non-surprise is the police drama Aibou being brought back again for a 7th season. The film version of the drama was the top-grossing film in Japan for the first half of 2008, and its spinoff film is coming next year. With 6 seasons that run 6 months at a time, this is one show I will never have the time to catch up on.

- With The Forbidden Kingdom opening this weekend in Japan, the Daily Yomiuri speaks to director Rob Minkoff about the challenge of working with both Jet Li and Jackie Chan. I wonder how he feels about both stars essentially not being very proud of the film.

- Twitch looks at the Korean independent action film Spare, which looks to offer some hardcore action captured on DV.

- Following in the footsteps of Warner Bros. and Sony, Hollywood studio Paramount will be creating their own worldwide distribution/production division and work on distributing films in Asia themselves. They’re already working with producer Taka Ichise (The Ring films) on a remake of Ghost. Wait, which Ghost?

The Golden Rock - July 26th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s do a little prediction to this weekend’s Hong Kong box office. On Thursday opening day, The Dark Knight continues its domination of Hong Kong theaters despite the arrival of Pixar’s Wall-E. On 74 screens, the comic book film made another HK$1.91 million for a 8-day total HK$26.05 million, and will have no problem passing the HK$30 million mark this weekend. Meanwhile, the Disney animated film made HK$1.14 million from 57 screens without any ticket price inflation and with most of the screens showing the dubbed Cantonese version. The new X-Files movie opened on 34 screens and made only HK$320,000, and should wrap the weekend up with around HK$1.5 million.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$21.14 million after 15 days.

Poor Red Cliff has become the casualty, as many Hong Kong theaters have reduced it to simply 2-4 shows a day in the small auditoriums. Even Broadway Cinemas, run by Edko, who co-distributed the film in Hong Kong, have reduced showings dramatically to make way for this weekend’s openers. However, a quick scan at online presales show that these few shows are all at least 80% capacity, which means on 36 screens, it may wrap up the weekend at around HK$23 million and may make its way towards HK$25 million by the time it’s involuntarily wiped out.

More on Monday when the numbers are out.

- The overall Japanese box office has taken a bit of a dip in the first half of 2008, with the big three distributors (Toho, Toei, Shochiku) taking 49% of the pie, the five major Hollywood studios taking roughly 36% of the pie, and the rest sharing roughly 12% of the pie. While the major distributors - both Japanese and American - took a fall in revenue, smaller distributors Gaga and Showgate actually saw an increase in revenue. Too bad Gaga still lost money.

- A much welcomed Okaeri to the Japan film news site Hoga Central. When the blog was still at Blogger and just starting out, Hoga Central was one of the first sites to link to me. Good to see ya back.

- Lovehkfilm fans are gonna go nuts over this. Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue have both taken the Best Actor Award at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival for the Singaporean/Hong Kong film Rule No. 1.

(via Hong Kong Film blog)

Meanwhile, prizes for the most promising projects at the festival has also been given out.

- Media Asia sees UK-based film distributor Tartan fall, and decides to take back all the movies Tartan bought the distribution rights for.

- Imagine this conversation:

Record Company Executive: “So, Hamasaki-san, what was your last release?”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Oh, it was a remix album. My 6th.”

Record Company Executive: “Yeah, and we split that into two full-price albums. Here’s your royalty check, by the way.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Oh, thank you. I still haven’t cashed in the check for my album from earlier in the year.”

Record Company Executive: “Take your time with that. We’re still getting together the check for your last single. Splitting that into four different covers really helped the sales.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “I’ll bet!”

Record Company Executive: “So when was the last time you released a compilation?”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Just last March. We even split that into two full-priced albums too. The money from that bought me a new make-up artist. My 5th.”

Record Company Executive: “Well, your new album can’t be ready yet, right? So we think it’s time you release a new compilation album.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Already?! I only have one album’s worth of new songs.”

Record Company Executive: “Oh, it’s OK. We’ll just do the B’z thing and include all of your singles in it, and make it one 3-disc album to seem like a huge saving!”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Really? Only the price of one album?”

Record Company Executive: “Oh, we’ll make two different covers for it, of course.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “I’m in.”

- Twitch’s X looks at why people aren’t so hard on the fact that one film is taking over 45% of total box office in Korea.

- There’s a ton of new posts at Ryuganji, but this one caught my eye the most: Personal recent favorite Haruka Ayase will be starring in a film called Oppai Bare, and I’ll let you read for yourself what that translates to. Ayase only really caught my eye with her cute-as-corn-syrup performance in the TV drama Hotaru no Hikari, so I had no idea about her model past.

Just to add, the film is written by Be With You/Space Travelers screenwriter Yoshikazu Okada. He also recently wrote the ratings flop drama Muri Na Renai.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2008 Edition

It’s either a really slow news day, or it’s been a long day. Here we go:

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$20.36 million after 13 days.

- Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective opened on one screen in America. With a total of 8 shows over the weekend, the film made only USD$2,682, which means each show only averaged USD$335.25. An average ticket cost from USD$8.50 to USD$11.50, which should tell you how many people went to see it. Even though it’s also playing through video-on-demand, it’s still pretty painful to report that number.

- Cyzo (Thanks to Ryuganji for the link) reveals the top 10 grossing films in Japan for the first half of 2008, which is any film that opened from December 2007 to May 2008.

1) Partners the Movie (Aibou) - 4.4 billion yen
2) I Am Legend - 4.3 billion yen
3) The Golden Compass - 3.5 billion yen
4) Doraemon - 3.37 billion yen
5) A Tale of Mari and the Three Puppies - 3.14 billion yen
6) The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - 3 billion yen
7) Enchanted - 2.9 billion yen
8) National Treasure 2 - 2.6 billion yen
9) Detective Conan - 2.42 billion yen
10) Earth - 2.4 billion yen.

That’s 6 foreign films and 4 Japanese films, only one of which is live-action. Of course, we still have The Magic Hour and Hana Yori Dango to add to that second half 2008 list.

-It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! The Korean boy band TVXQ sets a record for foreign artists with their third #1 single (and probably another record for the longest song title ever). Yui Aragaki’s first single makes a 2nd place debut (surprising, considering this is how she sings). Kimaguren knocks GReeeN!!! off the top spot at the album chart with their latest album.

More at Tokyograph

- After Japan named its favorite robotic cat as its animated ambassador, Korea has unleashed their own robot as a “goodwill delegate” for refugees.

- After Dragonball, 20th Century Fox is apparently in the process of turning another Japanese animation into a live-action film.

- In the continuing series of ridiculous product lines for pachinko machines (refer to my Japan reports), director Hiroyuki Nakano has remade Kurosawa’s Seven Samurais for a pachinko machine. It even co-stars Sonny Chiba and featuring a soundtrack of Rolling Stone songs.  I have to say, Paint it Black sounds pretty good with samurai on horses.

- Last Friends villain Ryo Nishikido has found his next drama role, this time presumably the good guy with Johnny’s mate Kazunari Ninomiya for an adaptation of another popular novel.

- Ryuhei Kitamura has announced that he will be remaking his classic film Versus for America and that it will be “insane”, which means more of the same with better makeup?

- Not liking Ponyo is like wanting to hurt little puppies, and it looks like there are plenty of people who will want to hurt little puppies.

The Golden Rock - July 22nd, 2008 Edition

- Japanese cinema attendance figures are in. As expected, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot, with the latest Pokemon movie right behind. As a result, everything gets bumped down by two places, except for One Million Yen Girl, which managed to debut at 10th place. I’d say more when the numbers come out, but I have no idea when that will be.

Jason Gray does have the 3-day holiday weekend numbers for Ponyo. With 1.57 billion yen, the take is actually 96.6% of Spirited Away’s 3-day holiday weekend take. And anyone who wants to rain on Ghibli’s parade should know that Ponyo’s admission was actually 101.6% of Spirited Away’s opening weekend, although that’s also attributed to the larger screen count.

-  Meanwhile, Korean box office figures are also in. As I reported several times already, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird opened huge and is now the third biggest Korean film debut in history (why, oh, why couldn’t it beat D-War?!). Also, now Song Kang Ho is in two of the top three biggest openings in Korean film history as well.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time. The Spring 2008 drama season has officially wrapped up. As mentioned before, CHANGE managed a huge finale rating of 27.4% for a season average of 21.7%. Meanwhile, Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Hachi-One Diver wrapped with just an 8.3% rating, averaging an 8.4% rating for the season. This is the lowest-rated drama at that time slot since Fuji began it a year ago.  The only show left is Rookies, which will wrap this Saturday with a 2-hour episode, even though TBS initially announced that they were not going by a typical season schedule for it.

Most of the Summer 2008 season dramas have started, with Gakkou ja Oshierarenai premiering last week with a 9.9% rating. Meanwhile, Monster Parents has rebounded to a 13% for its 3rd episode, Seigi no Mikata dropped slightly to a 10.1%, Maou continues to drop with a 9.2% for its third episode, Tomorrow also drops slightly to a 13.5%, and detective drama Shibatora also drops slightly to a 12.2%

Code Blue stayed the course with a 16% rating for the second week in a row, Yasuko to Kenji actually saw an increase to 13.1% for its second episode, and the well-received Yottsu no Uso saw a small drop to 10.6%.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$19.71 million after 12 days. 20 million, here we come!

Variety reports that despite the impact  other major summer films had on Red Cliff’s second weekend around Asia, it has now made USD$45 million, which means the two films combined should earn the investors most of their money back.

- Kou Shibasaki and Masaharu Fukuyama will be teaming up again in the studio for their second music collaboration, this time for the film version of their hit drama Galileo.  I hope it’s better than their first song together.

- Don Brown over at Ryuganji reviews the action film Chameleon, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara.

-  With the movie business losing money, Korean film companies are turning to the stage, turning films into musicals in the new musical boom of Korea.

- Tomoworo Taguchi will be making his second Jun Miura adaptation, and Lily Franky shows that he has the acting bug with his second starring role after All Around Us.

-Ryuganji also looks more at Satoshi Miki’s latest, although both videos embedded on the site have been taken down already.

- Disney has acquired their first Bollywood film for North American release, even though it will go straight to video.

- A theater in Beijing has become the first in the world using a laser projector. The technology has not been installed in theaters in American and other countries because of safety regulations, which explain why China managed to take the first step.

- In a further proof to show that Smap is everywhere in Japanese pop culture, the boy band will be singing the theme song for one major network’s Olympic coverage. One of the members will also be a caster for that channel’s coverage for the third Olympic in a row.

The Golden Rock - July 21st, 2008 Edition

Japan is on a national holiday today, so no box office or drama ratings for now. That shouldn’t stop us from looking at numbers elsewhere.

- The Dark Knight exceeded my personal expectations at the Hong Kong box office. Playing on over 80 screens, the comic book movie made HK$16.44 million over 4 days, including HK$4.76 million on Sunday. Apparently, the “less shows a day” effect didn’t quite hurt in the end because of inflated ticket prices. This already exceeds the total take of the first film in Hong Kong, and with good word-of-mouth, this is likely to be the highest-grossing foreign film of the year.

Before it hits that mark, Kung Fu Panda continues its brief win at the highest-grossing foreign film so far. After 23 days, the animated comedy still managed to make HK$579,000 on Sunday from 37 screens, and a total of HK$28.99 million. Space Chimps didn’t even put much of a dent in business, making HK$740,000 after 4 days.

How Much Money Has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

As of July 20th, Red Cliff has made HK$19.16 million after 11 days.

Red Cliff was probably most affected by The Dark Knight’s opening, because it lost almost 20 screens, mainly at multiplexes that had to turn these screens over to Batman. In these smaller screens, John Woo’s historical epic remained packed, making HK$1.35 million from 39 screens, which means HK$25 million is a viable goal, though HK$30 million will be a bit of a reach.

Ann Hui’s The Way We Are is showing in one theater, who is only giving the film one to two shows a day. With two shows on Sunday, it managed to make HK$12,571, which indicates at least a near sell-out for both shows if average ticket price was HK$50. After 3 days (about 5 showings), Ann Hui’s drama has made roughly HK$30,000.


- In Korea, distributor CJ Entertainment is estimating that Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird attracted roughly 2.2 million admissions over its first 4 days, which would make it the best opening this year for a Korean film. I believe this already exceeds the total admission for Kim’s previous film, the film noir A Bittersweet Life.

Korean Herald writes about the film’s English-subtitled screenings in one theater in Seoul, and foreigners use it as an opportunity to gripe about the lack of English subtitles at the theater. They should be lucky they get English subtitles on DVDs.

- Derek Elley reviews John Woo’s Red Cliff from Korea, which means he saw the 131-minute cut version instead of the 140-minute one. He also notes that the Japanese version will be cut as well, although I haven’t read any confirmation about that, especially since the first mass media screening in Japan doesn’t happen until August 1st.

- Meanwhile, other press are picking up on the Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea’s opening day numbers. Jason Gray translates the previously linked report and writes that the studio’s “83% of Spirited Away” figure is actually an estimate for the film’s ENTIRE run, which means that the rough figure doesn’t mean all that much.

Variety also points out that since Spirited Away opened on 150 less screens, Ponyo may actually be doing worse. However, since there’s no solid numbers, no one can really make any solid numbers out of these statistics, espeically since Saturday and Sunday night numbers will probably be pretty strong because of the holiday on Monday.

- The Japanese variety comedy show Gakkou E Ikou MAX, which is responsible for those clips of Japanese kids speaking to Hollywood celebrities in English, is coming to an end after a 11-year run due to declining ratings.

- Twitch has a link to the first footage from Wilson Yip’s Ip Man, which shows some on-the-set stuff featuring a Donnie Yen with short hair and him throwing some punches.  Meanwhile, Wong Kar-Wai is busy at the Carina Lau-Tony Leung wedding. Really.

- Kaiju Shakedown has the first official poster for the live-action Dragonball movie. I don’t know….

- Tadanobu Asano is slated to star in Kankuro Kudo’s adaptation of his own award-winning play, with a commercial director making his feature film debut.

- Nippon Cinema has the first teaser for Lala Pipo, the sex comedy written by Memories of Matsuko’s Tetsuya Nakashima. I’m surprised it’s already gotten an R-18 rating already. Are these self-imposed, or is the film really done that early?

- Just as the New York Asian Film Festival  wraps up, the KOFIC brings the New York Korean Film Festival to New York City starting August 22nd with films such as Forever the Moment and Open City.

- Congratulations to Kiyoshi Kuroawa, whose Tokyo Sonata won the Best Film Prize at Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival. This marks the second major festival prize for the family drama, including the Grad Prix Prize at Cannes.

-  Korea and China are working to together to produce an animated series called…what the hell is that name?

The Golden Rock - July 20th, 2008 Edition

- We might as well call it the Ponyo on a Cliff weekend here at the blog: Ponyo on the Cliff opened nationwide on a record-breaking 481 screens yesterday (the most ever for a Japanese film). As of opening day, they already recorded that attendance is at 83% of Spirited Away, which stands as the top Japanese moneymaker with 30.4 billion yen. Some are expecting a mega-hit of that magnitude already.

Wait, does that 83% means it’s already 83% of Spirited Away’s opening day, or is that 83% of Spirited Away’s attendance in the same time period? I think it’s the former.

It’s a busy weekend for Japanese kids, as Fuji TV are not hesitiating to push their latest Pokemon film against the Ghibli juggernaut. Fuji TV took the opportunity on opening day to announced that this is the 6th consecutive Pokemon film to sell over 1 million advance tickets, and that they will submit the record to Guinness as “The Film With the Highest Advanced Ticket Sale”. With attendance at 106% of the previous film, they’re expecting it to be the second consecutive Pokemon film to make over 5 billion yen., despite competition from Ghibli and the upcoming Kung Fu Panda.

- It’s Taiwanese music charts time! Christine Fan’s latest compilation album debut at the first place, finally dethroning Jam Hsiao’s album after 4 weeks at the top. Gospel music group Joshua Band saw a 3rd place debut, just on top of Korean boy band Super Junior - Happy. The Lollipop boys from the Channel V talent show split into two groups and release their own single. Fans have obviously chosen their favorite, putting one group at 5th place and leaving the other at 8th.

- Viz Media, who has brought some excellent Japanese films to North America, will be entering the production world and will take advantage of their large catalog of Japanese comics.

- Two recent award-winning actors are working together in Adrift in Tokyo’s Satoshi Miki’s latest film.

- Also, shooting is under way for the new Andrew Lau film, which stars Andy Lau and Shu Qi. The dance film also stars Ella Koon, Denise Ho, and Lam Ka Wah, and is slated to be released at the end of the year or beginning of next year.

- I also grabbed a shot of the possible poster for Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook (thanks to Tim Youngs for the heads up!). Starring Eason Chan and Sammi Cheng, the film opens on September 11th.


- Jason Gray reports on the premiere of Yoji Yamada’s latest work, a filmed stage performance of a Kabuki play and marks the first time one with a major film director in charge.

- TV Tokyo will be making their first daytime drama, adapting a radio drama that was later adapted into comic form. Currently, TV Tokyo shows dubbed Korean dramas during that time slot. I guess that tradition is coming to an end.

- Japan Times has an article on actress Aoi Miyazaki, who is currently starring in the NHK historical drama Atsuhime, and will next be seen on the big screen in Children in the Dark, about child prostitution in Southest Asia.

- Ahead of the Olympics, China is tightening even further by banning artists and performers that “threaten national soverignty”, meaning that any artist who even said one bad word about China will not be able to perform there. Apparently, there’s no official list, but some of these people may be Bjork, Steven Spielberg, and Sharon Stone. Saying that China is improving on human rights is like saying getting stabbed by the sharp end of a broken cue stick is an improvement over getting stabbed by a sword.

- Somewhat off-topic, but being a big fan of Hot Fuzz, I feel obliged to report it. The film only made it to the shores of Japan because over 2300 people reportedly signed a petition to bring the film to the big screen. Thankfully, it paid off, as the film attracted 3865 admissions from 4 screens during its opening weekend two weeks ago, making 5.72 million yen. I wish it all the success and all the word-of-mouth it can get.

The Golden Rock - July 19th, 2008 Edition

- Hayao Miyazaki’s latest Ponyo on a Cliff opens today in Japan, and The Daily Yomiuri has a review by staff writer Christoph Mark. There’s also a piece on the young actress who voiced the cute titular character.

Also, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review for the new Guilala movie, in which a monster attacks the G8 Summit.

- So the distributor forKim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, is actually expecting the film to pass the 2 million viewer mark by the end of the weekend after it attracted 400,000 admissions on opening day. I forgot that it opened on a Thursday.

- According to head of Hong Kong’s Sundream Tsui Siu Ming, he expects the Anthony Wong-Jo Odagiri-starring film directed by Yu Liwei to get into the Venice Film Festival. Then again, Tsui has a thing for self-promotion if on his cable network, though he’s not the first studio head to do that, and he won’t be the last, either.

- Speaking of film festivals, the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival opened yesterday.

- Plus, the San Sebestian Film Festival will have a 43-film retrospective for Japanese film noir, which will span from Kurosawa to Imamura to Kitano to even Miike. Man, I would love to watch Battles Without Honor or Humanity on the big screen.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri offers up plenty of compliments for current drama Yottsu no Uso and the final episode of CHANGE. The one with the 22-minute speech by Kimura Takuya done in one take.

-In addition to Paco and the Magic Book, Tetsuya Nakashima also had time to write the script for Lala Pipo, about an office lady who becomes a porn star. Masayuki Miyano is directing.

- Happy Flight, the latest from Waterboys and Swing Girls director Shinobu Yaguichi, already has a website and a teaser on it, even though it doesn’t open until November. Haruka Ayase doing another comedy after Hotaru no Hikari is good enough reason for me to see it.

- By the way, check out Apple Daily for a picture of the guy who’s suing Dreamworks over Kung Fu Panda. His panda doesn’t even have eyes, someone should sue him for that.

The Golden Rock - July 28th, 2008 Edition

- The Dark Knight scored a huge opening at the Hong Kong box office yesterday. Opening on 84 screens (the largest opening since CJ7 during Lunar New Year), the superhero crime epic made HK$3.24 million. With shows sold out left and right, as well as a ticket price increase, I wouldn’t be surprised if the film makes HK$15 million by the end of the weekend. With around 150 screens, everything not named Red Cliff are forced to share screens with only a few shows a day. Even Space Chimps, which only has a Cantonese-dubbed version with EEG stars, is only getting a few shows during the day. On 25 screens, the animated film made only HK$139,000 and will likely be a more attractive video fare anyway.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$15.44 million after 8 days.

While box office gross has slowly significantly, online sales indicate that John Woo’s historical epic will still have a falrly good weekend. More when the numbers are out on Monday.

- Mamoru Ishii’s newly digitized version of Ghost in the Shell opened last weekend on 5 screens across Japan, and it did spectacular business. Within the first two days, it made 13.19 million yen with a per-screen average of 2.63 million yen (roughly USD$25,000). It’ll be expanding this weekend, taking over two of Speed Racer’s screens in Tokyo and probably elsewhere at major cities.

- Twitch’s X reports that Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird saw 400,000 admissions for its opening day, which means it’ll fly past the million admissions mark by the end of the weekend. Also, Warner Bros. has reportedly offered Kim to direct a real Western flick in Hollywood.

In other Korean box office news, The Public Enemy Returns reached the 4 million admissions barrier just ahead of the invasion of The Good, the Bad, and the Weird.

- It’s trailers time! First we have a full-length trailer for the omnibus film Tokyo!. Then there’s a teaser for the film adaptation of the Japanese drama Galileo. Lastly, there’s also a teaser for Benny Chan’s Connected, which is the official remake of the Hollywood film Cellular. Looks like it’s considerably more violent too.

- Under “courts actually waste their time with this?!” news today, the performance artist who criticized Kung Fu Panda before its opening is now suing the filmmakers in Chinese court for an apology. Amazing, the court accepted his case.

A Japanese company has signed a deal to open 4 IMAX theaters in Japan. If I remember correctly, previous IMAX theaters, including one in central Tokyo where I saw Batman Begins 3 years ago, closed down across Japan. How are they going to make it work this time?

- Han Cinema has been reporting new from the set of two Korean dramas. Not sure if they just happen to share the same name or otherwise, but it seems like there are now drama adaptations of Hur Jin Ho’s Happiness and Kim Jee-Woon’s A Bittersweet Life in the works.

The Golden Rock - July 17th, 2008 Edition

How much money has Red Cliff made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$14.67 million after 7 days.

- The results for the Nikkan Sport Drama Grand Prix for the Spring 2008 season has been announced, and CHANGE barely beat Last Friends to win the Best Drama prize, although the drama hadn’t ended when the voting began. Kimura Takuya also took home Best Actor, beating Rookie’s Ryuta Sato. Around 40’s Yuki Amami won Best Actress, and Last Friends didn’t go home empty-handed, thanks to supporting acting awards for Ryu Nishikido and Juri Ueno.

- In addition to 1949, John Woo will be revealing another upcoming project at the upcoming ComicCon in the United States, a comic adaptation about King Arthur and his knights as gunslingers in the 19th century Pacific Northwest.

- Twitch reveals that there’s a possibility of a Jewel in the Palace film to be directed by none other than Zhang Yimou.

- As usual, Disney will be bringing over Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea to America, and this time Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy will be responsible for putting the American version together.

- An advanced screening has already been held for Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori’s Ichi, starring young actress Haruka Ayase (currently selling Panasonic SD cards on Japanese trains) as the famous blind swordswoman character. Nippon Cinema reveals the character has actually undergone some major changes, including her occupation.

- Johnnie To has signed up as a jury member under president Wim Wenders at the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

- Twitch has an interview with famous Japanese animation director Satoshi Kon.

- With Japan going into full digital bradcasting in 3 years, a government authority is trying to crack down on the amount of infomercials shown on these digital channels.

The Golden Rock - July 16th, 2008 Edition

Today we’re starting a new feature called “How much money is Red Cliff making in Hong Kong?” Why, you ask? Because we’re into fanning the hype around here.

According to, as of Tuesday, July 15th, John Woo’s Red Cliff has made:

HK$13.52 million after 6 days

In comparison, the dance-unintentional-howler Kung Fu Hip Hop (also the only other Chinese-language film playing in Hong Kong right now. No, I don’t count Kung Fu Panda) has made HK$80,000 after 6 days, and already lost 4 of its 13 screens on Monday.

- Time to report on what we really do here at Lovehkfilm. Boss Kozo has three reviews, including mega-super-duper moneymaker Red Cliff, Yoji Yamada’s Kabei - Our Mother, and the Western film Children of Huang Shi, which co-stars Chow Yun Fat in a supporting role. Yours truly turns in reviews of the wrestling comedy Gachi Boy - Wrestling with a Memory and the independent award-winning comedy Bare-Assed Japan.

Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett also turns in a review for the Singaporean film The Photograph.

- As reported before, John Woo’s Red Cliff topped the Korean box office. It’s scored the highest opening ever for a Chinese film, and distributor Showbox (who cut the film by 9 minutes) is aiming at 3 million admissions. However, that depends on how The Good, The Bad, and The Weird will do next week.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

Meanwhile, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird has sold its American rights to IFC, who will be rolling the film out in a limited release early next year. No word on whether this will be the Korean cut or the cut that Kim said will include more references to classic Western flicks.  If i live in America, this would be exciting news indeed.

- For some reason, Box Office Mojo isn’t updating their Japanese box office numbers, which means I’m left in the cold for the second weekend in a row for number crunching. Thankfully, Mr. Texas over at Eiga Consultant is reporting the opening weekend gross for Gegege no Kitaro 2. Even though the last film went up against Spiderman 3 in its second weekend, the first film also opened a week before Golden Week, which boosted the film’s second weekend take, and it’s a luxury that the sequel didn’t get. The yokai fantasy film made 230 million yen from 313 screens, and it’s only 73% of the first film’s opening.  Mr. Texas contributes the comparatively lower opening to its seemingly darker tone, though I doubt that there’s an audience conflict with Hana Yori Dango (except for young WaT fans?).

Meanwhile, Ryuganji looks at the relative success of the Japanese newsroom drama Climber’s High, which is aiming for a 1.5-2 billion yen, and is a much-needed hit for all involved.

To no one’s surprise, major Japanese distributor Toho takes the top spot as the top Japanese studio for the first half of 2008, with 13 films passing the 1 billion yen mark.

- Gaga should also be slightly relieved that Climber’s High will probably make its money back, because they wouldn’t have to add it to the approximately USD$18.8 million losses they are forecasting from content alone.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Girl trio group Perfume gets their first #1 single, which is also the first #1 single for a technopop track. Meanwhile, Thelma Aoyama’s follow-up single to her mega-hit Soba ni Iru yo could garner only a 6th place debut. As for the album chart, Orange Range’s latest debuts as expected at first place, while the week’s only other new entry debuts all the way down at 9th place.

More at Tokyograph

- The Kimura Takuya drama CHANGE managed to gain one victory at the end of the Spring 2008 season. While it did not beat Gokusen for the top-rated drama of the season, it got the highest rating for any single episode all season with a 27.4% rating, and it even reached as high as 31.2% during its second half. Reportedly, the finale included a 22-minute speech by Kimutaku the Prime Minister, which sounds like a pretty ballsy move for a TV drama, and will likely be the most long-winded monologue ever recorded in a Japanese TV drama, and there are tons of those.

-  Universal is breathing a sigh of relief now, as The Mummy 3 has been officially cleared by Chinese censors after changes that, according to producer Bill Kong, were supposed “so minor that they scarcely amounted to a cut”, hinting that it may’ve simply cut some shots to make it suitable for all audiences. The film is expected to be released in China after the Olympics to increase its commercial potential.

- Hong Kong broadcaster TVB has signed a deal with Walt Disney to stream some of Disney’s American content on the TVB website free of charge 12 hours after their television broadcast in Hong Kong. Such shows may also include dramas from the Disney-owned ABC network such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. This, however, is not likely to prevent people from downloading shows within hours of their broadcast in America.

Ryuganji has more on director Akira Ogata’s first film since the 80s, which will begin shooting this month.

- (via Twitch) The Star Malaysia talks to John Woo about Red Cliff, in which he admits that he modeled some of his past action heroes after Three Kingdoms character Zhao Zilong.

-  Kaiju Shakedown reveals that when not making his “shit, piss, fart” comedies, Wong Jing actually produces some quality films. One of them is Ann Hui’s latest The Way We Are.

- A Japanese novel about a kid who bikes to search for his long-lost mother is coming to the big screen.

- Meanwhile, chalk one up for China, as a Chinese author has become the first winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize that is not a native speaker of Japanese.  The Akutagawa Prize is the top literary prize in Japan. Copyright © 2002-2019 Ross Chen