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Archive for August, 2008

The Golden Rock - August 30th, 2008 Edition

- Very sudden news out of Japan yesterday. Young Japanese award-winning actor Yuya Yagira was rushed to the hospital yesterday after an apparent suicide attempt involving lots of pills. Yagira bursted onto the Japanese film scene by becoming the youngest winner of the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for Nobody Knows.

- It’s reviews time! Variety’s Jordan Mintzer has the first review of the Pang Brothers’ self-remake of Bangkok Dangerous, starring Nicholas Cage and his bad hair. From Venice are reviews of Takeshi Kitano’s Achilles and the Tortoise, first from Variety critic Derek Elley, then from Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett. From Japan Times is Mark Schilling’s review of Toshio Lee’s Detroit Metal City, starring Kenichi Matsuyama. Also from Derek Elley is the review for Kelvin Tong’s Rule #1, which earned Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue surely their first Best Actor awards.

- Meanwhile, the Pangs talk to the Hollywood Reporter, telling them that they actually prefer the Hollywood way of systematic filmmaking as opposed to the quick improvisational style of Hong Kong films.

- Jason Gray reports from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s appearance at the Foreign Correspondants’ Club of Japan for his award-winning film Tokyo Sonata.

- Nippon Cinema has the first trailer for the Takeshi Kaneshiro starring vehicle K-20. Turns out he’s not the villain - he’s just accused of being one. Looks like some old-fashioned adventure fun.

- Major Japanese network TBS will be offering pay-per-view office through their broadband TV service. The first major offering will be TBS’ latest film, which will be available online even before the film hits theaters.

- Users of iTunes China can rejoices, as the music downloading program has been unblocked by the Chinese authorities. The Songs for Tibet album, however, is now missing, and netizens are getting all irate, screaming for more boycotting and banning.

-I missed out on reporting the Tony Jaa-Ong Bak 2 mess because of work, but now I can finally get a mention in: Tony Jaa has returned to the film, but only as an actor. Word is that Jaa’s mentor and Born to Fight director Panna Rittikrai will be taking over the director’s chair to finish the film.

- This week’s Televiews column looks at Japan’s coverage of the Olympics. With incompetent interviewers and unbearable media pressure on athletes, it sounds like Japan didn’t do all that much better than Hong Kong television’s immature and one-sided coverage.

The Golden Rock - August 29th, 2008 Edition

- Time to look at opening day box office in Hong Kong. Journey to the Center of the Earth continues to hold onto the top spot, making HK$830,000 from 34 screens on Thursday for a 15-day total of HK$23.33 million. However, according to the Hong Kong Film blog, roughly 65% of that Thursday take is from the 3D version, which charges a significantly higher ticket price.

As for opening films, the Spanish horror film Rec has the best debut, making HK$456,000 from 29 screens. With a shorter length, more shows per day, and fairly aggressive marketing, the category III film should attract the younger 18-and-older audience over the weekend. Those who can’t get into Rec may try for Patrick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, but the weak performance of advance screenings last weekend carried over, as the romance-horror film made only HK$211,000 from 34 screens on its opening day. Where Patrick Kong goes from the film’s impending failure should be interesting, as young audiences are either getting tired of his contrived overdramatic teen romance shtick, or they just don’t find Alice Tzeng a good substitute for Stephy.

Attracting older audiences over the weekend will be the Hollywood romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding II Maid of Honor. Even though it only opened with HK$266,000 from 25 screens on opening day, it should still get a good enough boost over the weekend to get it past the HK$1 million mark by the time the weekend’s over.

In more limited releases, Hana Yori Dango Final also joins in to attract the teen audiences (it’s the final weekend before school year starts in Hong Kong, and seems to work. On just 12 screens, the schoolgirls-oriented fantasy romance made HK$184,000. Looking at internet sales, some theaters are already moving to larger screens, which means it might be looking at a pretty big boost over the weekend. Lastly, the British romance The Edge of Love opened on 6 screens for a weak HK$58,000 take. More when the numbers come out on Monday.

-Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea has passed another major mark, recording over 10 million admissions in Japan on the 41st day of release. In comparison, Spirited Away took 31 days, Howl’s Moving Castle took 44, and Princess Mononoke took 66 days.

- With the first installment of the mega-budgeted trilogy 20th Century Boys opening in Japan tomorrow (thankfully, it will open here in Hong Kong relatively quickly on September 25th), the Daily Yomiuri looks at how the long-planned adaptations came about.

And Jason Gray posted his thoughts on the film during my hiatus.

- Korean public broadcaster KBS has expanded their KBS Film Festival to 10 theaters nationwide for the first time. Also, they will also be making the films available online and through broadband television. In its 4th year, the KBS Film Festival brings over films from around the world that would otherwise never make their way into Korean theaters.

-  Yasufumi Terayaki, the younger half of the Aibou duo, will be leaving the hit detective show after its 7th 6-month season, which is slated to start in October. No word on how the actor’s departure will be dealt with on the show, and no word on whether the show will continue on without one of the show’s two stars.

The Golden Rock - August 28th, 2008 Edition

- While we keep waiting for Box Office Mojo to update their Japan numbers, Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant looks at the opening for the Sex and the City movie in Japan. On 286 screens, the film adaptation made roughly 190 million yen. The opening is 85% of the opening weekend gross of distributor Gaga’s female-oriented A Moment to Remember in 2005. Considering the fact the Korean film came out during the peak of the Korean wave, saw very good word-of-mouth, and didn’t require knowledge of any source material, it’s not likely that Sex and the City will hit anywhere near A Moment to Remember’s 3 billion yen gross. Also, Mr. Texas reports that the film only did well in urban areas like Tokyo, which doesn’t spell well for the New York gals in long-term gross.

- Tokyo News Reporter looks at why Japan hasn’t warmed up to The Dark Knight, resulting in a much lower box office gross than expected, despite fairly good response from those that have seen it. Remember this is the same country that made Hana Yori Dango Final a hit, which would explain the whole thing about audiences liking their action films light and fluffy.

- With the Olympics ending, people in China are heading back to the cinemas, propelling the grosses for The Incredible Hulk to over 24 million yuan already, far surpassing the gross of Ang Lee’s take on the green monster. Of course, there are now more screens and more audiences in China. Add that with the promise of more action, it’s no surprise that the new Incredible Hulk would do so much better.

- The Chinese film Survival Song by director Yu Guangyi has picked up the top prize at the 2nd Cinema Digital Seoul Festival. Another Chinese film, The Little Moth, picked up the audience prize.

- Celine Dion will hit the movie theme song world again with a contribution for director Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s latest film. When the hell did Tsutsumi find time to make another film when he’s busy with the 20th Century Boys trilogy?!

- Under “not a bad idea” news today: Hollywood studio Paramount has commissioned a Singapore-based animation house to produce mobile comics to promote their upcoming films. No idea how much the comics themselves will relate to the films and how much carriers will be charging for these content.

-In John Woo’s continuing spiral into old-age sentimentality, he now announces that he wants to make a sports film with Chinese gold medalists Guo Jingjing and Liu Xiang. Of course, then his producer Terence Chang turns around and says “um…really?” When did the director of Hard Boiled and The Killer turned into…this?

- Associated Press’ Min Lee looks at Connected, the Hong Kong remake of the Hollywood film Cellular. Benny Chan continues to show off that he’s doing it better than Hollywood, but it’s that kind of ego-stroking that gets me worried.

- (via Japan News Junkies) NHK has announced that they are launching a 24-hour network that will broadcast English-language programming from Japan to all over the world via satellite. However, NHK already has a similar network called NHK World that I currently get for free here in Hong Kong, so what exactly are they talking about?

Also, Nippon Television has announced that they will be one of the network’s investors, but no word on whether they’ll provide any content.

The Golden Rock - August 27th, 2008 Edition

- It’s time for Korean box office. This week was a very quiet week, with The Dark Knight still ruling the top spot and CJ7 debuting dead on arrival. I’ll leave it to Mark Russell to do the analysis work.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- As mentioned earlier in the week, the Japanese comic adaptation Detroit Metal City managed a 2nd place opening in Japan behind Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea. Unlike Box Office Mojo, Eiga Consultant has actual numbers. Over the course of the two-day weekend (films open on Saturday in Japan), the comedy made roughly 350 million yen from 241 screens. It’s pretty damn good, but apparently it was only 85% of Crows Zero’s opening, another Toho youth-oriented release from last year. Still, it’ll be the first Kenichi Matsuyama film since the last L: Change the WorLd to make this much money, and he needs a hit that has nothing to do with death gods.

- It’s Japanese Oricon Charts time! Arashi now holds the record for the biggest singles debut of the year with their latest single, and it’s expected to beat their previous single as the best-selling single of 2008 so far. Meanwhile, Namie Amuro takes the top spot on the album chart for the 4th week in a row with her compilation album.

More at Tokyograph.

- Twitch has more on the critically trashed-but-commercially-successful Korean horror film Gosa, which has already broke even, despite the huge blockbusters that are dominating the Korean box office this month.

- Looks like Takeshi Kitano is done with his artistic maturbation self-examination trilogy with his latest film Achilles and the Tortoise. Before going off to Venice with the film, he announced that he plans to make another period film that will be unlike Zatoichi, as well as his indifference towards film festivals.

- Current “it” girl Yui Aragaki will be covering a song by male duo Kobukuro as a collaboration for the duo’s 10th anniversary. But why the hell is anyone still letting her sing?

- Han Cinema takes a look at a Korean film that co-stars Japanese “it” man Jo Odagiri, who is expanding all over the world with the Hong Kong film Plastic City as well.

The Golden Rock - August 26th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! First from Boss Kozo (working a bit of overtime because I couldn’t find time to attend the film festival) are reviews of the omnibus film A Decade of Love, the Taiwan-Japan co-production Tea Fight (I hate Vic Chou for being able to do that with Erika Toda), and the animation hit Evangelion:1.0 You Are (Not) Alone. From a man called Sanjuro are reviews of the Korean sci-fi film Yesterday and the classic martial arts film The One-Armed Swordsman.

From Variety are two reviews by Derek Elley, one for Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She (which I saw today but wasn’t fully satisfied with) and the Japanese omnibus flick Eat and Run: 6 Beautiful Grifters.

- Nippon Cinema has a trailer for a little psuedo-autobiographical indie film named Umeda Yuko no Kokuhaku, the feature film debut of a 19-year old Tokyo Visual Arts College graduate. It certainly looks less film school and more confident than a usual post-school film.

- Guess which is more important to the Chinese government: Supressing freedom of speech, or supressing illegal downloads?

- Marvel Entertainment is reportedly working with Japanese animation house Madhouse for four separate series that will reimagine Marvel superheroes for the Japanese market. No word on which heroes will be part of said reimagining.

- This counts as The Golden Rock news because Michelle Yeoh is in the movie. Too bad this is an interview in which Babylon AD’s director pretty much calls his own film complete shit.

- Under “he’s that famous?!” news today, Bae Yong-Joon (known as Yon-Sama in Japan) will be opening the second branch of his own restaurant in Tokyo after the first one has been deemed a success.

The Golden Rock - August 25th, 2008 Edition

Woo Hoo! The Olympics are over!

- As always, the first thing we’ll look at is the Hong Kong box office over the weekend by looking at Sunday grosses. Somewhat surprisingly, the Hollywood adventure flick Journey to the Center of the Earth continues its reign at the top of the box office, making HK$1.96 million from 33 screens (a portion of them in 3D and a higher ticket price) on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$19.22 million. Hellboy II also managed to hang on to its 2nd place spot with HK$392,000 from 37 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.83 million.

As for opening films, Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She leads the pack with HK$364,000 from 17 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.38 million, which is a respectable opening gross for a film on just 17 screens. Not so respectable is the opening for the animated film Star Wars Clone Wars, which made only HK$231,000 from 34 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$910,000. The two limited releases this weekend - Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It and Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There - failed to make the top 10, which means neither made more than HK$122,000.

In holdover films, The Dark Knight is still at 4th place with HK$292,000 from 31 screens (a portion from the one IMAX screen charging higher ticket price) for a 39-day total of HK$56.1 millionThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor made HK$187,000 from 36 screens for an inexplicable 25-day total of HK$36.93 million. Lastly, Chan Hing-Ka/Janet Chun’s La Lingerie made HK$122,000 from 22 screens for a not-too-bad 17-day total of HK$8.17 million.

- We also have the audience attendence chart for the Japanese box office. For the 6th week in a row, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot. The comic book adaptation Detroit Metal City, starring Kenichi Matsuyama, debuts impressively at 2nd place. Sex and the City didn’t do too shabby, either, with a 3rd place debut. The Mummy 3 falls to fourth place, and Star Wars Clone Wars could muster only a 6th place debut. Box Office Mojo is still slowly updating their numbers, so this will have to do for no.

- Time to look at the flop that is the Summer 2008 Japanese drama season.  The Monday 9pm Fuji drama Taiyou to Umi no Kyochitsu rebounds from the season-low 10.7 rating last week to a more average 14.7% rating this past week. Shibatora, Gakkouja Oshierarenai, Monster Parents, and Code Blue all recovered from season-low ratings the previous week. Even Koizora, the flop of the season, is seeing an upward trend from one episode to the next.

Still, Code Blue is that only drama this season that is averaging above a 15.0 rating, and that’s because of its highly rated premiere episode. Three dramas are scoring 6’s on the average season rating, and most dramas are barely breaking the 10.0 barrier. Then again, the last time a drama broke the 20.0 rating during the summer season was 2005’s Densha Otoko. Nevertheless, with an average of 15.2% so far, Code Blue is the lowest highest-rated series in a long time.

Note: I don’t count NHK’s hit taiga drama Atsuhime because 1) It doesn’t fit into the season format, which means the average rating doesn’t quite apply, and 2) Ratings only matter for private television station, which NHK is not. If counted, Atsuhime is easily the highest-rated drama of the year, scoring above 25% with most episodes.

-Coming off the commercial disappointment of Sky Crawlers, Mamoru Oshii is going back to live-action with short film in the omnibus film Kiru~Kill. He will also oversee the project.

- Being a fan of Paris Je’Taime, I’m very very excited for the producers’ follow-up New York, I Love You, which will feature films from great directors like Shunji Iwai, Fatih Akin, and Park Chan-Wook. Twitch has the film’s first trailer, even though it’s still in post-production and will only be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival as a work-in-progress. That trailer is worth watching just to see Chris Cooper speak Cantonese.

- Johnny’s man group SMAP is making history with a scheduled 6 shows at the enormous Tokyo Dome. That is the most shows a Japanese musical act has performed in a single tour at the baseball stadium.

- With Takashi Miike’s Sukuyaki Western Django heading to US theaters, Ryuganji has posted an interview in English with the prolific director.

- According to Hong Kong press, Johnnie To is not resting ahead of making his English debut film The Red Circle. Instead, he’s spending the hot summer days with Lau Ching Wan making a new film, and according to the Oriental Daily report, Lau will play a kidnapper in his first villain role. With no official quotes or source of information, Oriental Daily may just be making things up with some pictures.

- The minor Japanese medical mystery hit film Team Batista will be adapted for television, though stars Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi will not be going to TV. Instead, Atsushi Ito will be the lead in Takeuchi’s role because it was actually written as a man in the original novel.

The Golden Rock - August 20th, 2008 Edition

I know we haven’t been consistent with posting. Just hang in there, and things will be back to normal soon. Even Box Office Mojo is catching up on their Japan box office figures already, so there may be hope for us yet.

- Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea has officially crossed the 10 billion yen mark at the Japanese box office after 31 days in release. That’s 2 days quicker than Howl’s Moving Castle, which means it has a good chance of surpassing that film’s final take of 19.6 billion yen. However, it’s not likely to surpass the record-breaking gross of Spirited Away.

- In China, wall-to-wall Olympics coverage has temporarily turned people off from going to the movies, causing total box office gross to actually go down.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! After a record-setting debut, Namie Amuro’s latest compilation is seeing its 3rd week at the top of the album charts. Meanwhile, SMAP’s latest single debuts at the top spot, but continues to only tie the record for the most top 10 appearance because the latest single by Southern All Stars (the record’s co-holder) is also on the top 10.

More at Tokyograph

- Forget Liu Xiang and Michael Phelps, major Olympics sponsor Samsung has a secret weapon that no one else has to promote their products in Beijing.

-  Taegukgi director Kang Je-Gyu is going to TV with a high-budget 20-episode series starring Lee Byung-Hun and a rapper named T.O.P.. I’m not joking about that name.

-  I’m not joking about this one either: Kaiju Shakedown introduces Japanese cinema’s latest way of dieting - through rock n roll! That theme song is bound to be a cult classic.

Japanese girls group SPEED is having their third reunion, although this time it’s said to be a full-on reunion that will go into 2009.

- Japanese AV star Aoi Sora is braching out into a serious acting career in Asia, taking a role in a 4-episode Korean mini-drama.

The Golden Rock - August 15th, 2008 Edition

Holy crap, it’s been a while.

Housekeeping notes:

This blogger has been working at the Olympics with work hours that are borderline inhumane, so again, much apologies to the few loyal readers and the management of Lovehkfilm for the lack of updates. Not logging in for over a week meant that I had to quickly filter 619 comments that looked like spam. If you left a comment in the last two weeks and it didn’t get published, then it was probably because it was stuck between an ad for online casinos and some incomprehensible comment in Russian. With my work hours now normalizing to something more humane, I will be able to log in more often, so please try leaving it again, and it’ll probably find its way onto the site.

I’ll be able to update a little more often now, but postings won’t get back to normal until the horses stop walking around their sandboxes here in Hong Kong.

And now, the news:

The worldwide hit The Dark Knight has finally made it way to Japan. However, the phenomenon hasn’t quite hit the country as local hits like Hana Yori Dango and Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea have overshadowed the buzz. Warner Bros. was quite cautious, releasing the sequel on 460 screens (as opposed to 545 screens for Batman Begins) and opening it 4 weeks after it opened in the United States (Batman Begins had a day-to-date opening in 2005). Add that with an longer running time and a lack of IMAX screens in Japan to boost the box office, The Dark Knight opened at 2nd place behind Ponyo with 220 million. That’s only 76% of Batman Begins‘ opening, though that may again be attributed to less showings on less screens. I hesitate to say that Warners blew it this time, because they had to go up against the Toho blockbusters, which is probably the reason why they moved the opening back to August. With Star Wars Clone Wars, Sex and the City, 20th Century Boys, and Hancock still on the way, Warners may find Japan a bit of an anomaly when it’s all said and done. However, word-of-mouth seems to be good (85% of voters gave the film an A on MovieWalker), and since long-term income is what makes films blockbusters in Japan, there may be still be hope for Batman in Japan.

- Thanks to The Magic Hour, Hana Yori Dango, and Ponyo of the Cliff by the Sea, Toho has set a new record for monthly box office takings. Despite a weaker-than-expected performance for the first half of 2008, Toho will probably end up seeing some real positive news at the end of the year.

- Pokemon has actually contributed greatly to Toho’s success in June as well. In fact, thanks to the franchise’s latest film, which successfully held up its own against the Studio Ghibli giant, the Pokemon brand name is expected to make over 50 billion yen from the big screen alone.

- The rules of humor about China is constantly being rewritten. While it seemed like Chinese netizens can’t seem to take any kind of joke, now the situation has changed to one where you can poke fun at the Chinese teams - as long as you’re Chinese.

-The Hong Kong omnibus film A Decade of Love - featuring shorts by directors such as Wong Ching-Po, Aubrey Lam, and Marco Mak - finally made its premiere at the Summer edition of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. However, it seems like A-1 Headline co-director Chung Kai-Cheong’s short may have been eliminated from the final cut because it deals with the ‘89 Tiananmen Square incident.

-  Kaiju Shakedown looks at how the Anthony Wong’s Initial D school of method acting was used to excessive effect on the set of the Korean film Sunny.

- Min Lee looks at the Hong Kong debut of Chinese-American rapper Jin, who rose to fame in the hip-hop world after winning a freestyle rap contest on TV for 6 weeks in a row.

It’s off to work to see more dressag. See you next time.

We’re not ready - aka this is not a real update

The blogger is working on something that makes him unavailable to spend time on the blog.

We’ll be back, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be until you stop hearing “We Are Ready”.

Until then, here’s something cute.

And here’s something creepy

 
 
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