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Archive for September, 2008

The Golden Rock - September 29th, 2008 Edition

- Several major releases helped boost the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Benny Chan’s Connected tops the box office with HK$1.08 million from 42 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$3.61 million, pretty much guaranteeing that it’ll pass the HK$10 million mark. Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys is at 2nd place with HK$729,000 from 32 screens (including an inflated ticket price to compensate for its long running time) on Sunday and a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.48 million. I think HK$6 million is a pretty reasonable goal for final gross. The Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye is at 3rd place with HK$651,000 from 39 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.26 million.

Disaster Movie continues its disastrous run, with just HK$144,000 from 21 screens for a 4-day total of HK$530,000. Meanwhile, the excellent Korean thriller The Chaser also flops in its limited release, making only HK$28,000 from 5 screens on Sunday, but no weekend total was available from the Hong Kong Film Blog.

Amazingly, the softcore porn flick Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is still doing relatively well, making HK$177,000 from 16 screens for an impressive 10-day total of HK$2.48 million. I believe it still hasn’t had one day where the per-screen average was lower than HK$10,000, which is pretty amazing for a film of this type. Mamma Mia edges closer to HK$10 million, taking in HK$342,000 from 24 screens for an 18-day total of HK$9.28 million. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan somewhat holds up in its second weekend, making HK$313,000 from 30 screens for an 11-day total of HK$4.81 million. For those still following, Thai horror film 4BIA made HK$50,000 from 8 screens, and has now made HK$4.03 million after 18 days. The Muai Thai action flick Chocolate earned a similar gross back in April, except this one didn’t have the crazy stunts to pull audiences in.

According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (and I have no idea what the blogger’s source is), even the bogus one-week run of Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin made some money, despite the fact that no one could buy ticket to it. On that one screen playing “five shows” on Sunday, the supernatural period film reportedly made HK$15,435, which averages only a 60% capacity for each show. So why does the theater report that the film is sold out? Did anyone actually manage to get into a showing of this?

-At the Japanese box office this weekend, Iron Man topped the audience attendence chart, bumping Wanted to 2nd place after its one week at the top. Paco and the Magical Book stays up at 3rd place, while Departures is the success story with its hold at 4th place. The high-concept film Ikigami could only get a 6th place opening, while the Richard Gere romance flick Nights in Rodanthe could only earn an 8th place day-and-date opening. This is another blow to Warner Bros. after The Dark Knight underperformed at the Japanese box office last month.

- All the primetime private network dramas have wrapped up for the Summer 2008 season in Japan. Here are the top 5 shows, based on season average:

1) Code Blue - 15.6% average
2) Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu - 14.5% average
3) Yasuko to Kenji - 13.0% average
4) Tomorrow - 12.6% average
5) Shibatora - 12.5% average

Note: Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari is not counted because its season actually started in Spring, hence this season is simply a continuation. In fact, it’s not even over yet.

All drama synosis can be found at Tokyograph.

- Under “film festivals in Asia” news today, the Bangkok International Film Festival has given its top prize to the Colombian film PVC-1. Meanwhile, the Filipino film Serbis won the top prize in the Southeast Asian film section. While the festival was well-attended (it actually doesn’t end until tomorrow with the premiere of Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase’s latest), their first attempt at an entertainment market wasn’t. Better luck next year.

Meanwhile, Variety’s Derek Elley writes about surviving North Korea’s Pyongyong Film Festival, despite the sensitive North Korean government and its strict rules toward foreign journalists.

- Akira Kurosawa’s classic film The Seven Samurai is going to the stage, and this is the man that will play the Toshio Mifune role. Apparently, since it’s based on an anime that’s based on the film, I guess it’s OK.

- Variety’s Joe Leydon has a review of the documentary The Real Shaolin, which follows four martial arts student who travel to the real Shaolin temple in China to learn kung-fu.

The Golden Rock - September 28th, 2008 Edition

I don’t try to pretend that I know everything about every Asian country’s film industry. One of the industries that I don’t know so much about is Thailand’s, which is why I’ve added a new blog to the blogroll to fill the void. Wisekwai’s Thai Film Journal is an oft-updated blog that has excellent information about that Thai film industry that often doesn’t get reported here, mostly because of a lack of knowledge on my part. This is one of resources that I will be linking more to the future, but for the most comprehensive English-language resources on the Thai film industry, this is a blog worth checking out daily.

- Five films entered Hong Kong box office charts on Thursday opening day, with four of them major wide releases. Connected, director Benny Chan’s Hong Kong remake of the Hollywood film Cellular, opened on top with HK$546,000 from 40 screens, and should easily pass the HK$3 million mark by the end of the weekend. Depending on word-of-mouth, the action thriller should end up with over HK$10 million, and may even have a chance at matching Invisible Target’s HK$13 million+ take. It’ll make all its money back in China anyway.

The Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys opened on 32 screens with less showings because of its 142-minute running (but saw a ticket price inflation to make up for it. It ended up making HK$371,000, and saw a lower per-screen average than Connected. It might hit the HK$2 million mark by the end of the weekend, and it definitely won’t do as well as the Death Note films, which were also produced by NTV in Japan. Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye didn’t do that well, either, with only HK$360,000 from 38 screens on opening day.

Quite appropriately named is The Disaster Movie. With a gross of HK$90,000 from 21 screens, the result is no less than a disaster. Not doing so well either is the Korean blockbuster thriller The Chaser, which made just HK$16,000 from 5 screens on opening day. More on Monday when the weekend numbers are out.

- The Chinese film industry continues to expand this year, with Chinese films’ grosses for the first eight months of the year up 31% from the same time period last year. The shocker: Kung Fu Dunk is one of the three films that make up 40% of the total gross for local films. I guess word-of-mouth doesn’t have as big of an effect as one might think.

- Under “Bangkok International Film Festival” news today, Wise Kwai looks at the festival so far, including why head juror Eric Khoo had to leave the festival early. Meanwhile, Brian over at Asian Cinema - While on the Road has short reviews of the films he’s seen so far.

- Also, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Festival has just unveiled two new non-competition sections, which will bring high-profile films such as Clint Eastwood’s latest Changeling and Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It to the festival in November. If time allows, The Golden Rock will once again live-blog the awards as it’s playing on TV come December 6th.

- It’s reviews time! Japan Time’s Mark Schilling gives a rave for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, which I’ll be watching at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. On the other hand, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa doesn’t seem to like “the pregnant 11-year old movie” Kodomo no Kodomo so much.

- Grady Hendrix at Kaiju Shakedown rounds up all the wacky happenings in the world of Asian cinema this week.

- EEG has finally jumped on damage control over the delay of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident, which is said to feature Jackie Chan in his first purely dramatic role. The film was supposed to be released this month, but rumors have been going around that China’s censorship authority is keeping the film in limbo, resulting in its delay. Instead, EEG says that it’s still in post-production and won’t be ready until the first quarter of 2009. I expect them to push this out for Lunar New Year, a popular time slot for Jackie Chan films. At least in Hong Kong.

- Chinese 5th Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang slightly bored me with his last film The Go Master. Now, he’s upping the good-looking people factor for the guys by casting Maggie Q for his new period action film. Didn’t he learn anything from watching Three Kingdoms?

- Nippon Cinema is back with the full-length trailer for Swing Girls director Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest film Happy Flight. I trust the actual film to be better than the trailer.

This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at long-running reality shows departing the airwaves on Japanese TV.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (who got their information from today’s Oriental Daily - not always the most trustworthy source of news), Emperor Motion Pictures may be asking Louis Koo, Barbie Hsu, and director Benny Chan to reunite for a romantic comedy after the success of Connected. Maybe she’ll be less annoying in a romantic comedy lead than as a damsel in distress.

The Golden Rock - September 24th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s first do a quick catch-up of Hong Kong box office numbers. Among the opening films, Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan leads the pack (must be a first for an Adam Sandler film in Hong Kong), making HK$3.38 million from 31 screens after 6 days. Surprisingly, Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is doing surprisingly well, making HK$1.49 million from 20 screens after 5 days. That means on average, the film surpassed the HK$10,000 average everyday since it opened. Bottle Shock is all the way down there with just HK$120,000 from 4 screens after 6 days.

As for other films, Mamma Mia is at HK$7.99 million after 13 days, 4BIA is at HK$3.68 million after 13 days, and still on 26 screens. 10 Promises With My Dog has made HK$3.4 million after 13 days, which is only half of what A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies made half a year ago.

- It’s Jpaanese Oricon charts time! Yet another compilation has arrived to bump Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest compilation off the #1 spot on the albums chart. This time, it’s B’z second compilation album of the year, selling a phenomenal 400,000+ copies in its first week.

On the singles chart, boy group V6’s latest debut on top, while Angela Aki’s latest debuts at 3rd place.

More at Tokyograph

- It’s trailers time! All of them are from Twitch today. First it’s the trailer for the Japanese comedy GS Wonderland, about the 60s boom of the so-called “Group Sound”. Then it’s the trailer for Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2, and I have no idea what the hell is going on in it either. Lastly, it’s the second trailer for the Korean romantic comedy My Wife Got Married, starring Son Ye Jin, who still looks fake when she’s trying to do the sexy thing.

- Under “directors taking on new projects” news today, Voice of a Murderer and You Are My Sunshine director Park Jin Pyo is directing from his own script for Flower Man, about a man with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and a woman funeral home director. The more surprising news today is producer/ex-convict Haruki Kadokawa taking on his first directing job in eleven years for the thriller The Laughing Cop. Kadokawa has had a string of flops lately as producer for God’s Puzzle, Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea, and even the Tsubaki Sanjuro remake didn’t do nearly as well as hoped. And of course, he mentioned prison again at the press conference.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog, the producers of the Hong Kong-China produced fantasy flick Painted Skin are trying to pull a fast one on the Academy Award committee after being picked as Hong Kong’s representative for Best Foreign Film. The rules stipulates that for a film to qualify at the awards, it must play for at least 7 days in the home region before October 1st. However, all the ads around the city say that the film doesn’t open until October 2nd. The blog did some investigation, and found that one theater has a listing on the newspaper saying that it is showing the film, but instead of stating the showtimes, it only says “5 shows a day”. The theater’s website doesn’t even have such a listing.

When the blogger showed up to the theaters, the showtimes list actually has Painted Skin’s showtimes on it, but the blogger couldn’t even buy a ticket for it, with the staff saying that the film doesn’t open until the 2nd. Also, the theater’s showtimes listing for the following two days also have Painted Skin on it, but simply lists the film as “sold-out”. Essentially, what’s happening here is the producers have somehow found a loophole and simply put up a guise that the film is undergoing a qualifing run without actually letting people see the film.

Again, the original blog post in Chinese

- Japan’s NTV will be using 33 songs by legendary pop band Southern All Stars as the basis for a series of short 10-minute dramas, with the broadcasting date and format yet to be confirmed. Most of these ideas just sound really bad at first, and yet the networks somehow pull it off. I hope that’ll be the case here. Still, they must be running out of ideas if they need to use 33 songs.

- Director Junji Sakamoto, whose child-prostitution film Children of the Dark was barred from screening at the Bangkok International Film Festival a few days ago, held a press conference on the festival’s opening day to protest the festival’s decision.

- Under “foreign distribution” news today, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata has been picked up for North American distribution, and is set to open in 2009. I’m not holding my breath, though. Meanwhile, the American remake of the Korean romantic comedy classic My Sassy Girl will be getting a theatrical release in Korea in late October. The film went direct-to-DVD even in its native America.

- Mika Nakashima is taking on a rare TV drama role this coming season. I hope she won’t just be playing another variation of Nana.

- The American-financed animated film Astro Boy, worth noting here because it’s being produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios, now has a release of October 23rd….That’s October 23rd, 2009.

The Golden Rock - September 21st, 2008 Edition

Since I took the weekend off, this is an extra-packed edition of The Golden Rock

- The big news this weekend is the announcement of the new Green Hornet movie. Sony Pictures, who co-produced Kung Fu Hustle and CJ7, has signed Stephen Chow to star in the film along with Seth Rogen. He will also make his English-language directorial debut with the film, which now has a release date of June 25th, 2010. Supposedly, this will come after Chow finishes up Kung Fu Hustle 2, a news that just came out of nowhere for this blogger.

- Back to the usual box office news. The critically acclaimed Japanese drama Departures opened last weekend at 5th place in the attendance charts, but both the positive reviews and holiday weekend opening date helped it scored a surprisingly high opening. On 220 screens, the dramedy made 348 million yen over the 3-day weekend. Even though the distributor expected it to appeal to an older audience, the demographic was wider than expected. With the surprising opening, Shochiku has now adjusted their expected gross of 2 billion yen to 3 billion yen.

-Despite the usual netizen complaints, The Mummy 3 has now passed the 100 million yuan mark at the Chinese box office after only 2 weeks. Of course, Variety points out that it’s still no Red Cliff.

- It’s reviews time! From Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is the review for the controversial and potentially disturbing Kodomo no Kodomo. Fortunately he says it’s not all that disturbing. From the Daily Yomiuri’s Christph Mark is a review for Takeshi Kitano’s Achilles and the Tortoise.

- CNN recently compiled a list of the best Asian films, which not only included classics such as Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru and King Hu’s  A Touch of Zen, but also recent films such as The Host, In the Mood for Love, and (somewhat head-scratching) Infernal Affairs.

- Under “Asian film festivals” news today, the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival has announced its extensive list of 75 films, which will include the Taiwanese hit Cape no.7, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour, the omnibus film Tokyo!, Herman Yau’s True Women for Sale, and Ivy Ho’s Clustrophobia. Needless to say, I’m going to quite a few of them.

As previously mentioned, the Tokyo International Film Festival also announced its lineup. In addition to closing film Wall-E, it will also feature Clustrophobia (Asian premiere) and 3 other premieres. Astonishingly, the programmers also decided to include the Korean commercial blockbuster/cheesy nightmare D-War in the lineup as well.

With only a few days to go, organizers at the Bangkok International Film Festival decided to pull Junji Sakamoto’s Children of the Dark from its lineup after sponsors argued the film “does not fit in Thai society”, even though it was a co-production between a Japanese and a Thai production company.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the latest NHK daily morning drama. The timeslot has been going through a gradual descent in the ratings, and NHK has brought back the stars of the highest-rated morning drama in the last 11 years in a hope for a repeat.

-  Han Cinema has a feature on award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon, whose first post-Cannes film was released in Korean theatres over the weekend.

- Shiina Ringo (or her record company) just keep on celebrating her 10th year with EMI: A set of her remastered albums, as well as extra goodies, will be released in November after releasing a set of B-sides and concert DVD earlier in the year. My wallet is already screaming out in pain.

-  The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on Japanese singer-lyricist-composer Suga Shikao, whose new album was recently released.

- Lastly, we are sad to announce the sudden death of Japanese director Jun Ichkawa, who was the first director to take on Haruki Murakami for the big screen with Tony Takitani. He was 59.

The Golden Rock - September 17th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Namie Amuro’s hit compilation album has finally been bumped off the top of the charts….by another compilation album. This time, it’s Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest compilation, which marks the 14th #1 album in the pop diva’s career. Meanwhile, Amuro’s album, still the best-selling album of 2008 so far, is now down at 5th place.

On the singles chart, Mr. Children manages to hang on to their first place for the second week in a row, despite new releases by Ai Otsuka and Glay.

More from Tokyograph.

- The Hong Kong Films Blog looks at the miraculous cinema run for Kelvin Tong’s Rule #1 in Hong Kong. Released two weeks ago, the film could only secure 7 screens, at least 2 of which only played the film at 11:45 pm, and only after the film won two Best Actor Awards at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. However, the audiences kept coming thanks to strong word-of-mouth, and not only did one of the two 11:45pm-only theater added an afternoon screening, another theater also joined in to screen the film. Rule #1 will now go into its third week, still with only a limited amount of screenings. But for a film that started with only a show a day and never got onto the top 10 to continue playing for a third week is pretty amazing for Hong Kong cinema these days.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at the two finished Herman Yau films that will probably come out this year. He’s probably calling Rebellion the more interesting film because he doesn’t know that the Chinese title for True Women For Sale roughly translates to “I Don’t Sell My Body, I Sell My Uterus”. Honestly, I’m surprised that the studio kept the title.

- The Japanese media has been reporting that the critically-acclaimed Japanese film Departures won three awards at China’s Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival, including Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Director. However, the only English-language report and the only “complete” awards list report that Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly won Best Film at the Hundred Flowers Award and has no mention of Departures winning anything at the festival.  So what the hell is going on? Overzealous Japanese media or indifferent Chinese media?

- Under “who cares that this is getting made?” news today, the sequel for the 1997 comedy Beverly Hills Ninja will begin shooting in Korea next month, and will be the first major Hollywood film to do so. Presumably, Chris Farley, the star of the first film, will not be returning, since he passed away nearly 11 years ago. However, Red Cliff star Lin Chi Ling will be in it, which makes this all the more worthy of the blog. I guess.

- While most of the world has already seen Pixar’s Wall-E, the Tokyo International Film Festival will be giving it prestige status by making it its closing film this year…..screening it a full three months after its American release date and almost two months before it’ll be released theatrically in Japan.

In context, just 4 years ago, the TIFF managed to be the hold the world premiere of Kung Fu Hustle two months before its release date in the rest of Asia.

- The Japanese band GReeeeN, which has yet to make a public appearance because they’re all either aspiring or practicing dentists, will be collaborating with the band BACK-ON for a new unit called BAReeeeeeeeeeN. The 10 e’s is because it has 10 members, not because someone kept the finger on the e button.

- Kaiju Shakedown also has the trailer for the next likely hit Hollywood comedy, except it’s made in Japan.

The Golden Rock - September 16th, 2008

We’re back, after a long weekend for us, as well as much of Asia.

- As expected, it was a fairly busy weekend at the Hong Kong box office because of the holiday and all.  Last year, Lust, Caution ruled the even busier weekend and became the highest-grossing film of the year. But this year saw no high-profile Chinese language film opening during the holiday weekend, which means that foreign films ruled the weekend. As expected, Mamma Mia took the top spot with HK$1.1 million from 38 screens on Monday for a 5-day weekend total of HK$4.94 million.

The Japanese puppy film 10 Promises With My Dog did pretty well over the weekend as well, making HK$571,000 from 37 screens for a 5-day weekend total of HK$2.19 million. The Thai horror film 4BIA also did fairly well with HK$417,000 from 27 screens for a 5-day weekend total of HK$1.85 million. It doesn’t sound like it’s much, but it should be one of the better-grossing Thai films in recent years. Sadly, the only Chinese entry, the arthose flick Ocean Flames, didn’t do so well. From 26 screens (very few playing it for the whole day), it only made HK$96,600 for a 5-day total of HK$450,000.

As for holdovers, Brendan Frasier continues to own the multiplexes with Journey to the Center of the Earth, which made another HK$506,000 from 22 screens on Monday. The more-expensive 3D screens have helped the Hollywood adventure film make HK$33.29 million after 33 days. The Pang Brothers’ self-remake Bangkok Dangerous lost a chunk of its audience, making HK$206,000 from 32 screens (much of them not playing the film for a full day) for a 12-day total of HK$3.29 million. This year’s box office champion The Dark Knight is still on the top 10 with HK$77,000 from 9 screens on Monday and a 61-day total of HK$58.03 million.

- Some good news in Korean cinema, as the Korean period film The Divine Weapon beat Hollywood musical Mamma Mia for the top spot for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, neither 20th Century Boys nor Boys Over Flowers could make a dent in the top ten.

More from Korea Pop Wars

- It was a holiday weekend in Japan as well, but none of the newcomer can dethrone 20th Century Boys as the number 1 film in the audience attendance ranking. The most successful contender is Tetsuya Nakashima’s Paco and the Magical Book, which pulled off a 2nd place debut. Meanwhile, the new Ultraman movie debuts at 4th place, while the critically-acclaimed Departures manage a 5th place debut.

- Thanks to the successes of 20th Century Boys, Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea, and Detroit Metal City, Japanese distributor Toho saw a record-breaking gross for August.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! A few more Summer 2008 dramas wrapped upthis past week. In addition to Code Blue’s 19.5% finale (a 15.6% average), Ando Natsu (season-low 7.1% finale for a 9.3% average), Monster Parents (13.6% finale for a season average of 12.2%), Seigi no Mikata (12.2% finale for a 10.3% season average), Maou (season-high 14.1% finale for a season average of 11.4%), and Koizora (only 7 episodes long with a 6.3% finale and a season average of 6.4%, making it the lowest-rated drama of the season) all wrapped up, with only Maou, Code Blue, and Seigi ni Mikata seeing a big ratings boost. Hopefully next season will be better.

It’s time to get back to work, which means we only have time for number-crunching this time. More real news in the next entry.

The Golden Rock - September 13th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time again! Lovehkfilm just got updated with some new reviews. From Our Boss Kozo is the review for the Ekin-Shawn Yue two-fer Rule No. 1 and a review for Lam “fat dude in Shaolin Soccer” Chi Chung’s The Luckiest Man, which I thankfully missed out on. From A Man Called Sanjuro™ is a review for the Shaw Bros. martial arts film The New One-Armed Swordsman and the review for the Singaporean blockbuster 881. And from yours truly is a review for the Japanese talky flick Best Wishes for Tomorrow. And here’s an article from Japan Times on the film that should be an interesting companion to the review. I also just found this column written by the film’s co-writer about the film’s main character.From Variety’s Dennis Harvey are two reviews for recent Japanese films. First is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s family drama Still Walking, then it’s Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s excellent All Around Us

.- Sean Penn’s Into the Wild opened this past weekend in Japan on a limited 26 screens. While it made a less-than-impressive 13.73 million, Eiga Consultant reports that it actually played to sold-out shows at the three Tokyo screens, and that each of the screen actually attracted a different demographic.

-  It’s trailers time! This time both clips are from Twitch. First is the trailer for Kim Ki Duk’s latest film Sad Dream, which stars Jo Odagir speaking in his native Japanese instead of having no lines like Chang Chen in Breath. Then there’s a Mandarin-dubbed trailer for Wu Jing’s co-directorial debut Legendary Assassin, which features several Gold Label stars such as Alex “I used to swim at the Olympics” Fong and a cameo by Ronald Cheng because head honcho Paco Wong produced it.

- Japanese drama Code Blue just wrapped up this week with an OK-19.5% rating, which solidfies its spot as the top-rated drama of the Summer 2008 season. Guess what that means? A special one-off episode during New Years!

- Hollywood’s Focus Features have signed up to co-produce Park Chan Wook’s latest film along with its Korean producer. And since Focus Features is actually a division of Universal, this means that Universal is in on it too. It’s the first time a Korean film is being made with Hollywood money, although last year CJ Entertainment co-produced the American film August Rush.

- Kenichi “L” Matsuyama looks to be going into his indie film mode, signing up for a new film with an “ultra” cool name.

- This week’s Televiews column on The Daily Yomiuri goes into the wrapping up of Summer 2008 dramas and a possible Japanese remake of Winter Sonata starring the son of ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

- The management of Japanese idols group AKB48 has a real good reason to be pissed: The latest single, which isn’t even finished yet, has already been leaked on the internet ahead of its October release date.

- Hoga Central has an interview with Kaori Momoi and Takashi Miike to coincide with the release of Sukuyaki Western Django in the United States.

- The 2nd annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards is looking at a wider competition this year, as it has received double the amount of submissions compared to last year.

The Golden Rock - September 12th, 2008 Edition

- It’s looking like another crowded weekend at the Hong Kong box office this weekend, with at least 4 wide releases. Debuting at the top is the Hollywood musical Mamma Mia, which opened on 34 screens for an opening day take of HK$395,000. This is likely to attract more adult audiences as the holiday weekend rolls around, so it’s looking to do fairly well. In second place is the Thai horror omnibus 4BIA, which made HK$214,000 from 27 screens on opening day. Not opening so well is the Japanese doggie film 10 Promises with My Dog, which made just HK$206,000 from 35 screens. The distributor is likely hoping that it’ll do solid long-term business like A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies did earlier in the year. Rounding out the wide releases is the Simon Yam-produced Ocean Flames, which made only HK$80,000 from 26 screens. Some multiplexes have already panicked and reduced the number of daily showings for over the weekend.

Actually, two major Hong Kong releases were scheduled to come out for the holiday weekend - Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers and Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook. However, both films were moved to October, with Mei Ah citing that they never officially scheduled the September release date (despite the fact that they ran promotions with the September date in mind), while Mak and co. citing that their film needs further post-production tweaking. Hence, another holiday weekend goes to waste for HK cinema. More when the numbers are out on Tuesday.

- Japan has announced that they will be sending the recent award-winner Departures (or Okuribito) to try for the Best Foreign Film award at the Academy Awards this year.

-It’s reviews time! First, the Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa has a review of Departures, then Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has the likely first English review for Tetsuya Nakashima’s latest Paco and the Magic Book, and Variety’s Robert Koehler gives his take on Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom, which is included here because Rinko Kikuchi has a supporting role in the film.

- Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective has picked up another award, this time the Audience Award at the 2nd annual Changmuro International Film Festival. Hur Jin Ho’s Happiness also picked up the Discovery Award.

- This year’s big Japanese pop hit Soba Ni Iru Ne just won’t go away, as now it has been recognized by the Guinness World Record as the song with the most cell phone downloads.

The Golden Rock - September 9th, 2008 Edition

- Kaiju Shakedown’s Grady Hendrix writes a report from the Toronto Film Festival about the screening of Wong Kar Wai’s Ashes of Time Redux and the changes made from the original film.

- Hong Kong is getting another IMAX theater, this time at the far more convenient tourist-friendly neighborhood of Tsim Sha Tsui. The extra-large screen will be part of a 900-seat/5-screen theater that will also include two “premium” screens. Here’s hoping the other two auditoriums will be 200-seat+ large auditoriums.

Originally found on the Hong Kong Film Blog as well.

- The Warner Bros. lawsuit against an Indian studio over the kids film “Hari Puttar” has started, and funny enough, the judge subtly suggests that 20th Century Fox should be suing because it looks more like a rip-off of Home Alone, a charge that the studio has denied because it features musical sequences and animated sequences.

- Under “movies that will open film festivals” news today, Woody Allen’s latest will be opening the always troubled Bangkok Film Festival this year. Meanwhile, the Kazakhstani film The Gifts to Stalin will be opening this year’s Pusan Film Festival.

- Major Asian music presence EMI has decided to shut down its operations in several Southeast Asian territories, including Hong Kong. The affected areas will see their operations turned over to Warner Bros. In Hong Kong, EMI was once home to Gold Label and Denise “HOCC” Ho. On the other hand, Taiwan, where EMI has a fairly huge operation, is not one of the affected areas.

- Bae Yong Joon (aka Yon-sama) is looking at starring in a new drama next year, and his management company is seizing the chance to make money by taking on production duties themselves.

- At the ongoing Asia Media Summit, despite Asia looking at continuing growth, increasing costs and the post-Olympic hangover period mayput a stall on growth. On the other hand, it’s looking like India still has the potential to be the next big thing. Of course, China is still looking to be to be huge, especially in internet media, but a lack of transparency continues to dampen things.

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2008 Edition

- Guess who just won the weekend box office in Hong Kong again? For the 4th weekend in a row, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes the top spot, making HK$816,000 from 34 screens on Sunday (again, much of it from the higher-priced 3D showings) for a 25-day total of HK$30.92 million. Brendan Frasier is now the most bankable star in Hong Kong this year, with his two films making a total of HK$68 million and counting in Hong Kong.

This means that the Pang Brothers’ remake of Bangkok Dangerous got bumped down to second place, making almost HK$520,000 from 34 screens for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$1.85 million. The film will likely finish on par with the brothers’ recent efforts at around HK$5-6 million. The other only opener that made it to the top 10 is the horror film The Strangers, which made HK$103,000 from 15 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$390,000.  According to the Hong Kong Film blog, the three Hong Kong-based films - The Luckiest Man, A Decade of Love, and Rule #1 - made 4-day weekend totals of HK$96,000, HK$80,000, and HK$78,000 from 12, 11, and 5 screens, respectively. The award-winning Rule #1 can be said to be the most successful one, because it’s only play on 5 screens, and at least two of those screens only play the film once a day at 11:45pm.

As for holdovers, Rec barely hangs in there for its second weekend, making HK$295,000 from 28 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$4.85 million. Cyborg She is showing surprising legs in its third weekend, still making HK$204,000 from 16 screens for an 18-day total of HK$4.47 million. Not hanging in so well are Hana Yori Dango Final, which made just HK$76,000 from 14 screens (with a reduced amount of a screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.18 million, and Partick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, which made just HK$59,000 from 22 screens (also with reduced amount of screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.53 million.

- In Japan cinema attendance chart, 20th Century Boys have come back from behind for a boost to 1st place in its second weekend, with Ponyo taking 2nd place and Hancock dropping all the way to 3rd place. Sex and the City also got a boost up to 5th place, which shows that it’s got staying power, even if it’s only limited to the urban areas. Nim’s Island debuts at 6th place, while Goo Goo the Cat shows that cats are just not as popular as dogs in the cinema with an 8th place debut.

- In an amazing turn of events, the Taiwanese Academy Awards representative Cape No. 7 saw a boost of 77% in box office gross for its second weekend, and has thankfully now surpassed Kung Fu Dunk as the highest-grossing local film in Taiwan.

- That was quick: Some Summer 2008 dramas are already wrapping up their runs, though the drama ratings aren’t getting any better. First, Sono Otoko, Fukushocho ended with a barely above-average 11.9% rating for its last episode and a season average rating of 11.8%. That’s considerably lower than the 13.5% average of the first series. Yottsu no Uso takes an early ending with only 9 episodes, wrapping up with an above-average 9.6% rating for its final episode and a 9.3% season average. The Takashi Sorimachi-starring flop Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko ended up with only a 6.4% rating for its final episode and an embarrassing 6.5% season average. It’s about to be the flop of the season, because Koizora has boosted its season average to 6.4% because of a season-high 7.6% rating for this week’s episode.

Tomorrow wrapped up with an OK-14.1% rating final episode for a season average of 12.6%. Right now, it’s looking to be one of the better-performing dramas of the season, behind Taiyou to Umi no Kyoushitsu (14.1% rating for this week’s episode), Yasuko to Kenji (dropping to a 13% this week after a one-week hiatus), and Code Blue (down to a below-average 14.9% rating for its second-to-last episode). Getting close to the end of the season apparently isn’t energizing the ratings battle any, with only Koizora reaching its season high this week.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph.

- With its screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the beatdown of the Yu Wai Lik’s Hong Kong co-production Plastic City continues. This time, it’s jury member Johnnie To’s turn to do the beating, quoted by Apple Daily: “I think director Yu Wai Lik has yet to finish making the film. Great cinematography cannot make up the film’s whole.”  He also said that he does not agree with the jury’s pick for Best Actor and the Golden Lion, saying that the Turkish film Milk and Russia’s Paper Soldiers should taken those awards, respectively.

Jury president Wim Wenders also lament that there’s a rule set by the festival that the Golden Lion-winning film cannot also win Best Actor, which explains why Mickey Rourke didn’t pick up Best Actor for The Wrestler, despite being the heavy favorite. When the Japanese press asked Wenders why Ponyo didn’t pick up any prizes, Wenders simply said that he lost sleep over Ponyo because he likes the film very much. He also said that in order to prove their love for Ponyo, the jury members will be singing the theme song for the rest of their lives.

Original story by Apple Daily.

- Variety also cover the snubbing of Asian films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

- As for Plastic City, its sales company has confirmed that they will work with the filmmakers to recut the film after its screenings at Venice and Toronto. The company blames the rushed post-production process for the film’s bad word-of-mouth and urge potential buyers to wait for the new cut.

- In Toronto, Momoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers was acquired by Sony for distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. Strangely, Warner Bros. Japan was a major distributor of the film in its native Japan, although Sony actually acquired the rights directly from the film’s production company.

- Korean director Choi Dong Hoon has gotten a hell of a cast in hopes for a third consecutive hit after The Big Swindle and Tezza: The High Rollers. This time, he’ll bring a historical figure into modern times as a superhero from the past fighting supernatural figures.

- Perhaps not as exciting to some people is the official announcement of Utada Hikaru’s second English album, which is now slated for a seond half 2008 release. Actually, I’m kind of excited. But that’s only because I’m a fan that kind of liked her first English album.

- Some Japanese content makers have decided to embrace the internet video format, uploading their own content either on Youtube, or on their own company’s video site. Of course, I must point out that while GyaO allows foreign users to register, they actually do not allow computers from non-Japanese IP address to view their contents, which, for the lack of a better word, sucks.

- Twitch offers up approximately ten seconds from the upcoming animated film Gatchaman, produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios.

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown reports that after the failed Azn Television in America, the other Asian-American network ImaginAsian is looking at layoffs after a new CEO took over.  This goes to show that mainstream America just doesn’t care.

 
 
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