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Archive for September, 2008

The Golden Rock - September 6th, 2008 Edition

- It’s review time! With the Venice Film Festival wrapping up and the Toronto Film Festival just starting, the trade paper film critics are going to be very busy, which also means more review links popping up here on The Golden Rock. First from the Japan Times is Mark Schilling’s review of the award-winning drama Okuribito (or Departures).

From Variety is a trifecta of Japanese film reviews.  From Dennis Harvey is a review for Kenji Uchida’s After School and a review for Koki Mitani’s crowdpleasing The Magic Hour. From the mysterious “Variety Staff” is the review for Mamoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers.

From Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee is a review of the wonderful All Around Us and also her take on Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Still Walking.

- Forget about the animation competition going on at Venice. Both Japanese animated films in competition are going home with prizes at the digital cinema competition.

- The Toronto Film Festival has barely started, and sales for Asian film are already starting. I don’t remember Toronto being acquisition-heavy festival, but we’ll keep track of things here.

- After last year’s pop song-inspired Signs of Love, TBS will produce a 3-part drama, with each part inspired by a Mariya Takeuchi song. As expected, the drama will be shown just after the release of her latest compilation album. What a coincidence!

Korean president Lee Myung Bak continues his promised deregulation of media by annoucing a series of proposals that will encourage more media congolmerate through the softening of ownership laws and an increase in the budget for cultural promotion, with the former a likely point of contention with naysayers.

- After Taiwan quickly chose its representative at the Oscars this year, Singapore has also made its choice, sending Eric Khoo’s My Magic to the Academy Awards after it represented the nation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

- This week’s Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri takes a digression into CNN’s coverage of the Democratic and Republican Conventions (um….I don’t think Wolf Blitzer makes any editorial calls. His producer does.). But before that is a brief mention of Edo “GU~~~” Harumi’s 110km marathon at last weekend’s NTV 24-hour telethon.

- And just to show that anyone can make up a TV drama nowadays, TV Asahi is putting together a TV movie featuring three stories by three celebrities.

That’s it for the weekend! See you on Monday.

The Golden Rock - September 5th, 2008 Edition

- It’s looking like it’ll be a rather quiet weekend at the Hong Kong box office. The Pang Brothers’ self-remake of Bangkok Dangerous has a first-place opening on opening day. However, it only made HK$307,000 from 34 screens, which means it’ll likely make somewhere in the region of only HK$2 million over the weekend. That’s actually very good, since only 2 out of 5 opening films made it to the top ten on opening day. The other film is the Hollywood thriller The Strangers, which made just HK$60,000 from 15 screens. More when the numbers come out on Monday.

- Despite the delay, The Mummy 3 has opened huge in China, making USD$2 million on opening day. That number is similar to the opening for The Forbidden Kingdom and The Warlords, both of which has gone on to be blockbusters. The opening is also Universal’s best opening day in China. The Hollywood adventure film will end up being profitable thanks to international gross alone, as it has even yet to make USD$100 million in the States.

- Under “the latest way to make Shakespeare spin in his grave” news today, Avex and Kansai TV will collaborate on producing a drama that will consist of several modern versions of Shakespeare’s plays, and all of them will star the idol group AAA.

- It’s trailers time! Nippon Cinema has the trailer for Seven Nights, the latest by The Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase. Twitch has a trailer for My Dear Enemy, Korean director Lee Yoon Gi’s follow-up to his much-admired Ad Lib Night. This time, he even has award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon along for the ride. Twitch also has the trailer for Choi Ho’s Go Go 70s, which looks at the music of that turbulent period in contempoary Korean history.

- With the Venice Film Festival wrapping up tomorrow, The Hollywood Reporter looks at a competition happening within the competition films.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at an American-produced movie that was shot in Hong Kong and didn’t feature a dude in a bat. It does feature zombies, though.

- Lastly, the Associated Press’s Min Lee writes about Taiwansese-American musician Joanna Wang’s success in Asia, which has led to a sales figure 220,000 copies in Asia. Her album was even on the top 10 of the international charts in HMV Japan.

The Golden Rock - September 3rd, 2008 Edition

- Eiga Consultant reports more on the opening of 20th Century Boys. As previously reported, the film made 625 million yen from 310 screens, which is actually 114% of the opening for Always 2. This explains why Toho is expecting it to make 5 billion yen, but that depends on whether the comic adaptation attracts a demographic as wide as the family-friendly nostalgic tearjerker and has a similarly good word-of-mouth.

Mr. Texas reports that 57.5% of audiences ranged from age 16-29, which means this may not have the widespread appeal of Always, but he also reports that only 28.5% of the audience cites the comic as the primary reason for going to see the film, which means the film isn’t just attracting the comic’s fans.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Namie Amuro takes the album chart for the 5th week in a row with her latest compilation. It’s now the best-selling album of 2008, as well as the first female artist album to hold the charts for 5 weeks since Akina Nakamori did it with her 1983 compilation. Amuro’s holdis also attributed to a weak album market, which even saw the mix album by Exile’s DJ MAKIDAI score a number 3 debut.

Meanwhile, KinKi Kids score their 27th consecutive number one single, pushing L’Arc~en~Ciel’s latest single down to second place.

More from Tokyograph

- It’s reviews time! Variety’s Ronnie Sceib looks at the French film Inju: The Beast, which is loosely based on the work of Japanese author Edogawa Rampo. Meanwhile, Eddie Cockrell reviews the Japanese film Departures (or Okuribito), which won the top prize at the World Film Festival Montreal.

- The media apparently loves bad news, which would explain why Hong Kong’s Apple Daily is still covering the fallout from the bad reception for the Hong Kong co-production film Plastic City at the Venice Film Festival. Today’s report points out that while many films received bad reviews, Plastic City is leading the way with the lowest score for a competition film from the panel of 10 critics in the festival’s daily newsletter.  Ouch.

-  In Thailand, where a declaration of a state of emergency usually means the army would engage in a media crackdown, the media is breathing a sigh of relief that the army has chosen to not take sides.

- Looking beyond that, Kaiju Shakedown’s Grady Hendrix looks at similar things happening in different places around the world.

- The Future Film Festival, not taking place until next January, has already announced that they will have a tribute to Japanese horror master Nobuo Nakagawa, whom has been credited for one of the pioneers for Japanese horror.

-  Under “documentary” news today, Nippon Cinema writes about a new documentary that follows a Chinese school in Japan’s Yokohama, wherethe country’s biggest Chinatown is located. Also, Ryuganji writes about Hirozaku Kore-eda’s next film, which will be a documentary following musician Cocoo at her home Okinawa.

The Golden Rock - September 2nd, 2008 Edition

- It’s Korean box office time! Strangely, two of the top ten films this weekend are not supposed to open until this week, but preview screenings for them were counted in the box office gross this weekend anyway. One of them is the Korean period epic The Divine Weapon, which attracted 230,000 admissions from the two days of preview screenings alone. Meanwhile, The Dark Knight tops the chart for another week, while The Good, the Bad, and the Weird is officially the biggest film of the 2008 Summer.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

-  (Via Jason Gray’s blog) Jason Gray writes on Screen Daily about the grosses of 20th Century Boys‘ and Hancock’s opening weekend. Actually, the reason why Hancock sits on the top of the box office chart is because Sony has taken the liberty of including last weekend’s preview screening grosses, which means 20th Century Boys probably won both weekend grosses and per-screen average (625 million yen from a surprisingly small 310 screens). Also, Toho now expects the first film to make over 5 billion yen, which certainly bodes well for parts II and III, considering all three films cost a total of 6 billion yen to make.

- It’s review time! From Twitch are reviews of 20th Century Boys, the Korean film A Man Who Was Superman, and Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom, which is here because Rinko Kikuchi has a supporting role.

From Variety is Derek Elley’s review for the Chinese film Perfect Life, which was a surprise film at the Venice Film Festival.

- Speaking of the super-efficient Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Nippon Cinema has the latest clips for his November release Maroboshi no Yamataikoku.

- Under “awards” news today, two Japanese films have taken major prizes at the World Film Festival Montreal. Meanwhile, Taiwan has already picked Cape No. 7 to be its representative at the Academy Awards this year. Not much hope for their output for the next 3 months already?

- Hong kong director Pang Ho-Cheung goes to his second Asian film market of the year, joining 31 other directors to the Tokyo Project Gathering in late October to pitch his latest project.

- Korean studio Chungeorshm, who had a major hit with The Host, will next produce the big-budget action film 29 Years, which has a surprisingly heavy political and historical tone for a typical blockbuster.

The Golden Rock - September 1st, 2008 Edition

- Who would’ve thunk it? Journey to the Center of the Earth has topped the Hong Kong box office for the 3rd weekend in a row. On Sunday, it made HK$1.41 million from 34 screens for an 18-day total of HK$27.16 million. Much of this gross is attributed to the more expensive 3d screening, which makes Beowulf’s flop in Hong Kong a little perplexing. Maybe Brandan Fraser looks better in 3d? As expected, Rec got second place with HK$609,000 from 28 screens on Sunday, giving the film a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.39 million. The other film that enjoyed a significant boost over the weekend is the Hollywood romantic comedy Made of Honor. On 25 screens, it made HK$430,000 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.56 million.

On the other hand, Hana Yori Dango Final didn’t enjoy the boost from some theaters putting it on their bigger screens. In fact, it only earned HK$145,000 from 14 screens on Sunday, which is strange since the film made more from less screens on opening day. The Japanese drama-turned-film (which I still think is the worst Japanese film of the year so far) has a 4-day total of HK$680,000. Another film that didn’t do much better is Patrick Kong’s Forgive and Forget. From 34 screens, the horror-romance made only HK$170,000 on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$980,000. The Edge of Love had more luck as a limited release, making HK$86,000 from 6 screens for a 4-day total of HK$340,000.

Still hanging in there is Cyborg She, which made a healthy HK$300,000 from 16 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$3.32 million, which makes HK$5 million within reach. The Dark Knight is already at HK$57.15 million after 46 days, and its IMAX shows are still doing fairly healthy business.

- In the Japan cinema attendance chart, Hancock and 20th Century Boys finally came together and knocked Ponyo off the top spot. Depending on the grosses, but the executives at NTV may not be so happy that the most expensive Japanese film ever made only managed a 2nd place debut, especially with two more films to go. Of course, the quoted 6 billion yen budget may just be spread across three films, which means with international presales, each film just needs to make over 2 billion yen to break even.

- It was a very very quiet week for Japanese drama ratings. Yasuko to Kenji didn’t show up this week because of NTV’s yearly 24-hour telethon. Instead, the Jun Matsumoto-starring drama that was shown during the telethon got a 25.6%. The ratings up and down was fairly boring, with only 33-pun Tantei reaching its season-low rating of 7.0. With the Olympics now over, Gonzo, Seigi no Mikata, Sono Otoko, Fushocho, Yottsu no Uso, and Code Blue all got a bit of a boost. Maybe things will pick up soon as the season reaches an end.

-  It’s reviews time! Variety’s Ronnie Schieb looks at Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, while Derek Elley lets out some hate for Yu Lik Wai’s Plastic City.

In Venice, boos were heard at the screening for Plastic City, which was the only Hong Kong film in competition.  Reportedly, the hate comes from the faulty English subtitles and a general feeling of not knowing what the hell is going on. On the defense, director Yu Lik Wai answered that his film is a contempoary fable and that he gives his own effort 69 points because the best he can do is 70 points. On the other hand. Elley said to Apple Daily that out of a score of one to ten, he gives the film a negative 10.

- Under Japanese pop news today, after Speed came together for another reunion, the band Do As Infinity is now also reuniting. However, they don’t be releasing new work until next Spring.  Meanwhile, young female rocker YUI has announced that she will be taking a short break after her next single in oder to “refresh” herself. She’ll be back next year.

- Lastly, Yuya Yagira has released a statement, clearing up that his recent trip to the hospital was not from a suicide attempt. He had simply taken too much tranquilizer after a family argument and actually called for help himself.  He even left the hospital on the same day.

 
 
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