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The Golden Rock - November 1st, 2008 Edition

Reminding you that our real day job around here is movie reviewing, LovehkFilm just updated with some new reviews. Boss Kozo gives us the reviews for the China-friendly kung fu cheesefest Wushu - The Young Generation, the Wong Jing-produced/scripted horror cheesefest The Vampire Who Admires Me, and the Hong Kong independent film Some Like it Hot. Yours truly offers you my takes on the Japanese dog flick 10 Promises With My Dog, the Korean odd couple comedy Santamaria, and the Korean family-friendly melodrama Unforgettable. I promise you the next batch of Korean stuff is better.

- Five of the six movies that opened this weekend got on the top 10 of the Hong Kong box office chart on Thursday opening day. Opening very strongly on top is the Japanese comedy Detroit Metal City. On just 19 screens (really?!), it made a very impressive HK$467,000. Expect theaters to add more screens over the weekend, and judging from the reaction at the screening I went to, expect this to do better than 20th Century Boys. Landing in second is Saw V, which made HK$315,000 from 25 screens.

More disappointing is the opening for City of Ember, which made HK$126,000 from 22 screens. It might get boost from the weekend family audience. On the other hand, the indie comedy Smart People won’t get that boost, and it only made HK$48,000 from 10 screens. Despite packed screenings and very positive reactions from the HKAFF, The Magic Hour made only HK$15,000 from 2 screens on opening day. The one film that didn’t make it to the top ten is Hur Jin-Ho’s Happiness, which opened on only two screens as well. More when the numbers come in on Monday

- Let’s look at some opening weekend data for a few Japanese films that opened last week:

There was fairly high expectations for the first film version of the hit novel The Homeless Student (Homeless Chugakusei). However, not only did it only open at third place this past weekend , its opening gross (115 million yen from 309 screens) was only 59% of Tokyo Tower’s opening gross (that ended up doing 1.88 billion yen). Since Tokyo Tower’s gross was helped by word-of-mouth, The Homeless Student may even have trouble getting to the 1 billion yen mark.

By the way, The Homeless Student is directed by Tomoyuki Furuyama, who made This Window is Yours, the 1993 PIA Scholarship film I briefly reviewed in the last entry.

Opening under The Homeless Student is Free and Easy’s 19th film. From 178 screens, the long-running film series made 67.89 million, which is actually the exact same opening gross as the previous film. Also, since the film attracts a large number of elderly audience (who pay only 1,000 yen per ticket), it ended up debuting at only 7th place on the box office gross chart, even though it’s 4th place on the attendance chart.

The exact opposite thing happened to Journey to the Center of the Earth. Since half of its 104 screens are playing the 3D version, this means a large number of tickets sold were on an inflated price. From 104 screens, the film made a total of 120 million yen, with the 3D version responsible for 76% of that gross. As a result, even though the film only ended up at 7th place of the attendance chart, it ended up being either 3rd of 4th place on the box office gross chart. For some reason, the Box Office Mojo is lower than the number Mr. Texas reported. Either way, the point is that the price of the ticket boosted the film’s place, which shows how inaccurate it is to purely look at a film’s success with gross.

- This weekend in Japanese box office, John Woo’s Red Cliff is expected to top the box office this weekend. After all, it already broke the record for advance ticket sales of an Asian film in Japan.

In case you don’t know, there is a type of movie tickets in Japan that are sold in advance for a cheaper price, and some outlets even continue to sell them after the movie has already opened. Each ticket also have the film’s art on it, and they’d be worth collecting if they didn’t cost the price of a movie ticket.

Also, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa has a feature on Red Cliff, but I’m sure you’ve probably read all this if you care about the film.

- In related news, the Golden Horse Awards committee had originally nominated actor Taiwan-born/half-Japanese Takeshi Kaneshiro for Outstanding Taiwanese filmmaker of the year for his roles in Red Cliff and The Warlords. However, after learning that Kaneshiro holds only Japanese nationality, he’s now been disqualified. Then again, he would’ve lost against the director of Cape No. 7 anyway.

- Oh, yeah, here are the nominees for this year’s Golden Horse Awards. Congratulations to Pang Ho-Cheung for the four nominations for Trivial Matters and to Peter Chan for the 12 nominations for The Warlords. My sympathies to John Woo and Johnnie To for their lack of nominations in the major awards category.

- Jason Gray looks at the proposed remake of Akira Kurosawa’s High And Low, which has some very high-profile American filmmakers onboard (David Mamet penning the screenplay?! Mike Nichols as director?!).

- Lastly, Twitch has a teaser for the Kenkuro Kudo-penned comedy Donju.

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