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The Golden Rock - February 14th, 2008 Edition

Apologies for taking an impromptu holiday from the blog. Like the rest of Hong Kong, the New Years holiday has taken a toll on this blogger. At least he’s now well-rested.

- First, legendary Japanese director Kon Ichikawa, whose career spanned 62 years and 76 films, passed away at 92 years old of pneumonia. He was still working up to last year on an installment in the omnibus film Ten Nights of Dreams. Jason Gray has an article he wrote for Screen International on his blog.

- A quick catch-up on the Hong Kong New Years box office. Here are the Lunar New Year films and how they’re doing as of yesterday (2/13). These are in order of their release dates:

CJ7 - 14 days, HK$44.6 million

Sweeney Todd - 14 days, HK$7.88 million

Enchanted - 7 days, HK$16.09 million (this has overtaken CJ7 as the number 1 film in these few days)

Kung Fu Dunk - 7 days, HK$6.78 million

L - Change the WorLd - 5 days (plus 3 days of previews), HK$5.29 million.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (this opened on New Year’s Day on 3 screens) - 7 days, HK$430,000

The good news is that the Lunar New Year films are doing fairly well this year (even a category III musical can make almost 8 million), the better news is that not everyone ended up buying into Kung Fu Dunk, and the bad news is that it’s one of the two only Chinese films in a holiday most celebrated by Chinese people.

- Three of these films are also playing in Japan, and I’ve already reported on how well Sweeney Todd is doing there (1.67 billion yen and counting). As for L, it had a phenomenal opening during the holiday weekend, making 572 million yen from 388 screens. While this is 140% of the first Death Note film’s opening, Mr. Texas of Eiga Consultant reminds us that it was also 75% of the second Death Note film’s opening. This opening might have been helped by the fact that NTV, the film’s backing TV network, showed the two films beforehand.

However, don’t count out the medical mystery Team Batista No Eiko, which also had a strong opening weekend with 264 million yen from 284 screens. Not so lucky is the Japanese film Kids, which opened fairly weak to begin with and lost 42% of its business in its second weekend. Oh, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly also made an impressive 7.46 million yen from just 5 screens (that’s a roughly US$13,000 per-screen average). Not doing so well in limited release is Lust, Caution, which has only made 79.5 million yen after 2 weeks from 77 screens (that’s a roughly US$2,300 per-screen average each week).

With 1.78 billion yen and counting after 5 weekends (that would be a typo in Variety), the documentary Earth is now the highest-grossing documentary ever in Japan.

- Kung Fu Dunk and L also opened in Taiwan, and both had fairly strong openings. However, nothing came close to beating CJ7’s major invasion of Asia.

- It’s reviews time! From Berlin are: Derek Elley’s review of Johnnie To’s latest Sparrow, which sounds like it’s Yesterday Once More meets Throwdown.  From Variety’s Russell Edwards is a review of Yoji Yamada’s domestic hit Kabei - Our Mother. Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee chimes in with her own review as well. Derek Elley also has a review of Night and Day, the latest from South Korean director Hong Sang-Soo.

- It’s also trailers time! Everything’s from Kaiju Shakedown today - a teaser for Cyborg She, the first Japanese film from My Sassy Girl director Kwak Jae-Young. I can imagine him on set telling his make-up people, “Just make the guy look like Cha Tae-Hyun!” Also, there’s a Spanish-dubbed trailer for the Pang Brother’s self-remake of Bangkok Dangerous. Yes, it looks pretty terrible, though it may just be the Spanish. Also, there’s the trailers for the indie Japanese ensemble comedy Hey Japanese! (The full name is far too long) and for Koki Mitani’s latest The Magic Hour, which looks surprisingly visually appealing.

That’s it for now, y’all.  Not completely caught up, but we’re getting there.

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