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Archive for the ‘actors’ Category

The Golden Rock - November 26th, 2008 Edition

I reported the Hong Kong weekend box office on Monday. Now it’s time to look at the rest of Asia:

-In Japan, John Woo’s Red Cliff Part 1 ruled the box office for 4th weekend in a row during the holiday weekend. It lost only 10% of its audience, and has now made about 3.1 billion yen. It’s on track to become the highest-grossing non-Japanese Asian film in Japan ever. As Avex reportedly invested US$35 million of the two films’ total US$80 million budget, Avex should be making their money back plus some change if the second film does just as well next Spring.

Meanwhile, the only new Japanese release on the top 10 is the oddly-titled post World War II war crimes trial drama I’d Rather Be a Shellfish. With a fairly large amount of 330 screens, it opened at second place, and has the highest per-screen average in the top 10. The other three English-language openers - Tropic Thunder, Blindness, and 1408 - all opened on a modest amount of screens, and could score only modest openings.

The biggest drop in the top 10 goes to the gimmicky comedy Handsome Suits. It lost only 29.1% from the previous weekend, and has made 668 million yen after 4 weeks. The second smallest drop (next to Red Cliff) is the TV drama film adaptation Suspect X. It managed to lose only 15.4% in business for its 8th weekend. It has now made 4.5 billion yen, and may have a shot at 5 billion when it’s all over.

-  In China, Quantum of Solace barely held on to its top spot for the third weekend in a row, and has now made almost 133 million RMB (200 million RMB is the super hit line that Red Cliff, Warlords, and Painted Skin have crossed). Right behind it is the Chinese romance Desire of the Heart. Variety has a report of how great the opening is.

Dante Lam’s Beast Stalker had a respectable 6.2 million RMB opening at 4th place, behind Hellboy II (which I’m surprised managed to open in China despite its supernatural elements). Depending on how it does in Hong Kong, the two regions’ gross combined may help EEG break even.

There’s not much else to say, since what was provided wasn’t even a completed top 10 list.

- In Taiwanese box office, the largest drop went to Quantum of Solace as well, which also held on to its top spot for the third weekend in a row. Local film Blue Brave is doing fairly well, still in second place despite losing 30% in audience. It has now made over 15 million New Taiwan Dollars, which may be chump change when compared to Cape No. 7, but it’s a fairly good gross for a local film. Just look at Miao Miao, which lost 38.4% in business and has only made 2.8 million New Taiwan Dollars so far.

But like the China data, there’s no screen count, so I have no idea how more limited release such as The Good, the Bad, and the Weird did with their low grosses.

- In a rare sight for 2008, two Korean films are on the top of the Korean box office. Meanwhile, both Connected and Blindness opened weakly in their first weekend.

More over at Korea Pop Wars

- On the Japanese Oricon Charts, UVERworld now has their first #1 single, while Perfume debuts far behind and Girl Next Door’s sales continue to slide. On the album charts, NEWS’ album debuts on top, with Guns N’ Roses’ controversial Chinese Democracy managed a 3rd place opening.

More on Tokyograph.

-  It’s trailers time! Nippon Cinema has the first official trailer for the second installment of the 20th Century Boys trilogy. This one is different from the one at the end of the short film, as it is longer and has more footage. It’ll be released in Japan just two months from now, with the third film aiming for a Fall 2009 release. Twitch reports that the Japanese website for the omnibus New York I Love You has opened with a short teaser. The website only reports that the film will open there some time in 2009. By the way, the website is only fully viewable with Internet Explorer.

- China’s Xinhua Media has announced a new slate of five US-China co-production. One is another martial arts action flick from Forbidden Kingdom writer John Fusco, and another one is a new take on the classic Hua Mulan tale.

- The Hollywood Reporter looks at how Thai TV networks - the four biggest ones owned by the Thai army - are looking at the latest anti-government protests, which led to the shutdown of Thailand’s biggest airport.

- Under “Japanese stars going international for Japanese cinema” news today, “it” actors Kenichi Matsuyama and Maki Horikita are starring in a Japanese-language film directed by American director Hans Canosa. I was greatly impressed by Canosa’s Conversations With Other Women, so I’m looking forward to what he does in a totally foreign environment with such high-profile actors.

Meanwhile, Yuji Oda has signed on to star in Fuji Television’s 50th annivarsary film Amalfi: Megumi no 50 Byou. About a diplomat abroad investigating an abduction, it’ll be the first Japanese film completely shot in Italy.

- Reported earlier in the Hong Kong press and now showing up on Twitch, Raymond Wong has confirmed that Wilson Yip’s DONNNNIIIIIEEEE Yen starrer Ip Man will be getting a sequel. It will cover the titular character’s move to Hong Kong, after he seemingly kicks a lot of Japanese asses in the first film, which won’t even be opening until mid-December. I ought to be excited about this, but I would rather see how Wong Kar Wai pulls off the story instead of seeing another DOOOONNNIIIEEE-centric martial arts fest.

- The global economic crisis has claimed another victim in the film world, as the Jakarta Film Festival in Indonesia has been forced to cut its 9-day schedule to just 5 days, and the festival will only be able to show 10 of the 84 local films produced this year.

- After it was confirmed that Steven Spielberg is working on a Hollywood remake of Oldboy with Will Smith looking to star, the rumors traveling now suggest that the Hollywood remake will be based on the original comic instead of Park Chan-wook’s adaptation, which apparently deviated plenty from the source material.

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2008 Edition

- At the Korean box office, My Wife Got Married, starring Son Ye-jin takes the top spot for the second weekend in a row and has cracked the one million admissions mark. Other than that, it’s been a fairly quiet weekend.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

-  We don’t have the Japan box office numbers yet, but we have the attendance chart. As expected, John Woo’s Red Cliff takes the top spot, bumping Suspect X to second place. 20th Century Boys director Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s Where the Legend Lives (his third theatrical release this year. Where does the man find the time?!) debuts at 3rd place, with the comedy Handsome Suits debuting behind at 4th place. Last week’s major Japanese debut films The Homeless Student and Ichi drop 3 places to 6th and 9th place, respectively. Departures is also looking to finally drop out of the top 10 after 8 weeks, dropping to 10th place this week.

We’ll see the two-day weekend numbers reported soon. Meanwhile, Variety reports that Red Cliff made a phenomenal US$9.73 million from 545 screens over the 3-day weekend. Avex, who reportedly poured US$35 million into the US$80 million 2-part film, must be breathing a sigh of relief now. They expect this first installment will make 4 billion yen (roughly US$40 million).

- As requested by a reader, let’s look at the Chinese box office numbers. Wanted, which got into China to my surprise due to its violent subject matter, spends it 3rd consecutive weekend at number 1, and has now made RMB68 million. Of course, it’s nowhere near the RMB227 million take of Painted Skin, which lost another 42% in business this weekend.

Meanwhile, Chui Siu Ming’s martial arts sports film Champions could only muster a 6th place opening with just RMB2.2 million. However, it might’ve opened at a small number of screens, so who know if it’s a true flop or not? The Mainland-targeted, Hong Kong-produced film opens next weekend in Hong Kong. Yesterday, I reported the disappointing Hong Kong gross for Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers. The same adjective can be used for the film’s gross in China. After 4 weekends, it has only made RMB27 million.

- Let’s look at the Japanese drama ratings. Many of the dramas with high-rated premiere episodes aren’t holding up quite well. Kaze no Garden, which had a 20.1% premiere, has lost 24% of its audience over the last 3 weeks with a 15.4% rating for its 4th episode. The Kankuro Kudo-penned Ryusei no Kizuna is dropping even faster, having lost 30% of its audience since its 21.2%-rating premiere. Its third episode scored only a 15% rating. TBS’ Sunday drama Scandal, which started off with a promising 16.9%, has dropped to a 11.4% rating in its third week. Fuji also has a disappointment on its hands with its Monday 9pm drama Innocent Love. After its underwhelming 16.9% premiere, it dropped all the way down to a 13.3% rating in its second week.

Some dramas are holding up very well. Fuji’s Celeb to Binbo Taro is holding steady in its third week, seeing a small boost to a 15.2% for its latest episode. Aibou got a very good boost from the news of this being the last season and the popularity of the spin-off. After its impressive 17.9%-rating premiere, its second episode actually got a boost up to a 19.7% rating. Salaryman Kintaro and The Glorious Team Bastista also saw its rating go up for their latest episodes with 12.1% and 12.5%, respectively.

Now on to real news:

- The distributor for Chen Kaige’s Mei Lan Fang has confirmed that Twins’ Gillian Chung’s part in the film has been completely excised, with Chen expressing disappointment over the producers’ decision. It also now has a release date of December 12th in Mainland China and January 1st in Hong Kong.

- The Hollywood Reporter looks at the 2nd edition of the Pink Film Festival in Korea, which showcases Japanese erotic films. Funny enough, some audience members at the female-only opening night screenings complained that the films weren’t racy enough. Damn you, internet!!!

- Meanwhile, Variety looks at the Chinese American film festival happening in Hollywood, which will be screening films such as The Warlords and Sparrow.

- Jay Chou and Michelle Yeoh are now shooting Yuen Woo Ping’s latest directorial effort True Legend, telling a story that the Stephen Chow-starring King of Beggars has told before.

- Death Note star Tatsuya Fujiwara is taking on another comic adaptation film, and guess where the film’s first-time director comes from.

- Jason Gray reports that a Japanese movie channel will be showing all 28 Godzilla films over the next three months after it spent money on remastering all the print. Something to check out if you’re in Japan.

- Thanks to the Olympics, advertisement spending in China has reached a record-high this year. Damn capitalist pigs, indeed.

- After a string of retirement announcements, The Japanese Visual Kei band Shazna has announced its breakup after 25 years together.

- Fox is determined to make an aggressive attack on Asian television by revamping their Asian  FX network with some of the edgier programs from American basic and paid cable. Too bad the shows will be censored, but I guess it’s better than nothing.

The Golden Rock - October 26th, 2008 Edition

Four more films to go at the HKAFF - Today is Claustrophobia and The Window is Yours, another PIA Film Festival film after yesterday’s Mime Mime and the PIA Film Festival talk.

- It’s looking to be a more active weekend at the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Tropic Thunder opened on top on Thursday with HK$531,000 from 31 screens. However, it’s not going to top the weekend box office, as the Hong Kong Film blog reports that High School Musical 3, which didn’t open until Friday here, opened with HK$1.15 million and will lead theweekend box office by a very large margin.

Even though a total of six films opened this weekend, only one other film got on the top 10 on Thursday, and that’s the film version of the TV drama Kurosagi. From just 3 screens, the swindler drama made HK$32,000 and will do relatively well for it’s limited number of screens. On the other hand, both Jacob Cheung’s Ticket and the Korean film A Man Who Was Superman opened on five screens, while Wushu - The Young Generation opened on 14 screens. None of them made more than HK$30,000 to get on Thursday’s top 10. I don’t expect to see them on Monday, either.

-The Japanese film Departures, which won the top prize at the Montreal World Film Festival and will represent Japan at the Academy Awards, has become a surprise hit for distributor Shochiku. It has now recorded more than 2 million admissions and made nearly 2.5 billion yen with no signs of dropping out of the top 10 soon.

Box Office Mojo has caught up with the Japan box office numbers, so it’s a good time to look at how other films are doing. Departures lost only 31% of its past weekend’s gross in its 6th week, and it’s the smallest drop in the top 10. The biggest drop goes to Wanted, which lost 55% in its 5th week. Even though Suspect X was on top for the 3rd weekend in a row, it lost nearly 40% of business, although this is fairly normal after a holiday weekend. Also worth noticing is that the box office has gotten so quiet that 3rd place film P.S. I Love You’s gross is 215% of the 4th place Departures. Also very depressing is the second weekend of Warner Bros.’ Get Smart, which saw a two-thirds drop in its second weekend and out of the top 10. Ouch.

- The Tokyo Film Festival Market has wrapped up on Friday, and while things didn’t match the excitement of opening day, organizers (at leasy Variety) were very happy, especially since so may buyers decided to skip the Asian Film Market in Pusan.

Meanwhile, Friend of Golden Rock Jason Gray was in the middle of it all, and posts the second part of his report on his blog.

Also, The Golden Rock will be offering a more personal perspective on the world of film market pitching hopefully next week. No worries, I’m not the one doing the pitching.

- The Pang Brothers have directed and produced 8 released movies under Universe since for 4 years. Now expect 10 more years and at least 2 confirmed films.

- China’s Huayi Brothers has announced a set of four films by major directors - Tsui Hark, Feng Xiaogang, Jack Neo, and Chen Kuo-Fu. Not sure if I’m excited about any of them, though.

- Earlier I reported that Red Cliff female lead Lin Chi-Ling signed on to be in Beverly Hills Ninja 2, which is set to be shot in Korea. However, Lin has now dropped out of the film, which now makes David Hasselhoff the biggest star on the film. As cool as the Hoff is, I’m not surprised if the Korean investors are now reconsidering the whole thing. Or they can always cast Vicky Zhao, the other Red Cliff female star.

- It’s reviews time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews 90-year old veteran art director Takeo Kimura’s first film Yume no Mani Mani, which is playing at this Tokyo theater. Is that Asano in the trailer?  Variety’s Derek Elley looks at two Korean films - the hit period film The Divine Weapon and Choi Ho’s 70s music film Go Go 70s.

- Kind of like a review is this week’s Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri, which looks at the Kyoka Suzuki-led drama Scandal.

- If you’re a Spongebob fan in China, start rejoicing: CCTV is bringing back 30 episodes of the popular American animated series after its last airing in December 2007.

- It’s a good weekend for Japanese trailers: Nippon Cinema brings us the trailers for the Takeshi Kaneshiro-starring action film K-20 and the latest “animal doing human jobs” film Neko Ramen Taisho, about a cat that becomes a ramen chef. Brilliant!

- The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, to be given out in Australia next month, has picked its competition jury.

- Japanese-American pop singer melody. has suddenly announced her retirement as a music artist, deciding that she will follow her dream to become a clothes designer. Her last high-profile job was the host of NHK’s English-language, oversea-aimed music show J-Melo, which presents Japanese pop music videos every week.

The Golden Rock - October 21st, 2008 Edition

A quick update because of a lack of time:

- First, here are how the opening films are doing at the Hong Kong box office after 5 days in theaters:

Mirrors - HK$1.97 million - 31 screens
The Vampire Who Admires Me - HK$1 million - 27 screens
Awake  - HK$420,000 - 10 screens (opened on 13 screens)
Accuracy of Death - HK$170,000 - 3 screens.

As for the others, Body of Lies is now at HK$4.94 million after 11 days, Butterfly Lovers is behind with HK$4.87 million after 11 days, Painted Skin is still under the HK$10 million mark with HK$9.87 million after 20 days, Connected has passed the HK$13 million mark with HK$13.06 million after 26 days, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona is doing well (by Woody Allen standards) with HK$1.89 million after 11 days, and Mamma Mia is still going with HK$11.87 million after 40 days.

- At the Japanese box office attendance chart, Suspect X (the film spin-off of TV drama Galileo) gets its third weekend at the number one spot. Hollywood films Eagle Eye and P.S. I Love You open at 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Departures continues its strong run at 4th place, and Ponyo jumps back up to 8th place.

-The fall 2008 drama season in Japan is coming to a great start for some of the major networks. Fuji has great premiere ratings for Celeb to Binbou Taro (17.6% rating) and The Glorious Team Bastista (15.2% for their troubled Tuesday 10pm spot is pretty good), while Kaze no Garden holds on to a respectable 18.0 rating in its second week. TBS has the highest-rated drama premiere with Ryusei no Kizuna (21.2% rating), with its Sunday night drama Scandal premiering with a promising 16.9 rating. On the other hand, NTV’s highest-rated drama is currently Scrap Teacher, with only a 12+ rating so far for both episodes.

Still, TBS and Fuji have their share of disappointments: the expensive terrorist drama Bloody Monday (co-produced with film distributor Toho) is still at 11.4% rating after two weeks, while Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Room of King has fallen to single-digit ratings for its second week in a row. More next week, when the rest of the private network dramas premiere.

All drama sypnoses are at Tokyograph.

- The Tokyo International Film Festival is off to a strange start this year: First, guests at opening film Red Cliff were walking out because only one of the two screens had an Englush-subtitled print. Then competition jury chairman Jon Voight raised his hands towards the ceiling while thanking Akira Kurosawa in Japanese during his opening remarks. Maybe it’s the green carpet.

- Meanwhile, at the Contents market, American producers came together to talk about the challenges of remaking Asian films for the western market.

- Japanese electronic pop group Perfume, featuring three almost overly spunky girls, is certainly having their biggest year ever: they have now sold more DVDs than pop divas such as Koda Kumi and Namie Amuro. I think it’s the voice and their excellent lip-syncing.

-Hong Kong film producer Universe is looking at another year of loss as video sales drop 30% and theatrical takings dropped by 12%, mainly due to the lack of a true hit film. If I remember correctly, their only releases this year so far are See You in Youtube (which was a surprise moderate hit) and Sparrow, neither of which got even past the HK$7 million mark. Of course, they blame internet piracy instead.

- The role of internet libel in the recent string of celebrity suicides in South Korea have sparked talks of imposing restrictions on free speech on the internet. Of course, there are theories that suggest it’s the government’s way of suppressing dissent.

- It’s reviews time! Derek Elley looks at two Mainland Chinese films this time - first the Chinese Academy Awards representative Dream Weavers - Beijing 2008, then the so-bad-it’s-hilarious Kung Fu Hip Hop. I’m surprised he didn’t mention the horrendous subtitles.

- Lastly, Hong Kong actress Gigi Lai, who may be best known to foreign viewers for her role in the Young and Dangerous movies, has announced that she will retire to take care of her ailing younger brother’s business. Of course, Hong Kong viewers will continue to see her on the small screen until February as one of the three female leads on the new 82-episode TVB drama The Gem of Life. Yes, that’s 82.

The Golden Rock - October 6th, 2008 Edition

Sorry about that little extended break. It’s been kind of a crazy half-week.

- Who didn’t expect Painted Skin (with DONNNNNIIIIEEEE!) to be on the top of the Hong Kong box office anyway? From 37 screens, the fantasy-martial arts hybrid romance made HK$1.03 million from 37 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$4.09 million. HOWEVER, and I didn’t report this for the opening day report because…..well, I fell asleep while writing, HK$350,000 of that money was supposedly from those advance screenings that no one could buy ticket to and no one was staffing at.

Connected had a strong second weekend, making HK$751,000 from 40 screens for a 11-day total of HK$8.83 million. With another public holiday in Hong Kong this week, it’s pretty reasonable to predict that this film will go over the HK$10 milliom mark. The British film The Duchess had a very strong weekend on limited release. On only 7 screens, the historical drama made HK$140,000 on Sunday for a 5-day total of HK$810,000, including preview showings last weekend. On the other hand, the Storm Riders: Clash of Evils flopped badly over the weekend, making just HK$66,000 from 26 screens on Sunday for a 5-day weekend total of HK$400,000. In fact, it’s done so bad that some theaters on the Newport Circuit decided to bring back Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks for one showing a day, even though Storm Riders was supposed to replace it on the Newport Circuit.

Speaking of Sex and Chopsticks, it’s still playing on 13 screens as of Sunday, when it made HK$33,000. After 17 days, the cat-III softcore porn has made HK$2.9 million. In relative terms, this is a success for the people involved. Eagle Eye isn’t quite performing in HK as well as it is in America, making just HK$422,000 from 39 screens for a 11-day take of HK$5.07 million. However, it has surpassed 20th Century Boys, which took an even bigger dip in its second weekend with just HK$326,000 from 32 screens on Sunday for a 11-day take of HK$5.06 million. It’ll end up just matching Hero’s take late last year instead of matching Death Note’s sensational HK$10 million+ takes, which must be a slight disappointment for the distributor.

Mamma Mia has proven itself to be a long-run hit, making another HK$273,000 from 23 screens on Sunday. It now has a 25-day total of HK$10.76 million. Journey to the Center of the Earth is still in the top 10 as well, making HK$58,000 from 6 screens and has now made HK$34.71 million after 53 days.

-In Japan, Suspect X (The film version of the hit TV drama Galileo) opened on top of the Japanese attendance ranking and is expected to earn as much as this year’s hit TV adaptation Hana Yori Dango, if not to the heights of last year’s Hero. Surprisingly, last week’s winner Iron Man dropped all the way to 6th place in its second week, which may make this the second Hollywood superhero flick to underperform at the Japanese box office after The Dark Knight.

- Meanwhile, the Galileo TV special also did very well in the ratings this past weekend, scoring a 20.8% rating. On the other hand, the Rookies‘ special didn’t do nearly as well, with just a 10.0% rating on the same night.

Source: Dramanews.net

- It’s trailers time! From Twitch is the trailer for The Uninvited, the Hollywood remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. The latter was beautifully shot, well-acted, and all in all a rare elegant horror flick that stood out from the down-and-dirty gore crap. The former doesn’t seem to carry any of that. Also, they have a link to the first teaser for Hollywood’s take on Dragonball, which just hurts to watch.

On the Hong Kong films front, The website for Dante Lam’s latest Beast Stalker, starring Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung, has opened and it features the film’s trailer. It might be a nice little crime thriller…or it might be another Heat Team. At least it looks decent. Also, the trailer for Tsui Hark’s Not All Women Are Bad has hit the net. This, on the other hand, doesn’t look close to decent. Then again, I might’ve been wrong before.

Lastly, Nippon Cinema has the trailer to the parody film Homeless ga Chugakusei, which is a take on the upcoming film adaptation of the autobiographical novel The Homeless Chugakusei. It reportedly features a real homeless man.

- Tsui Hark, who’s giving a master class at the Pusan Film Festival, reportedly says that he accepts the burden of censorship from everywhere, saying that it’s something that has to be done to “get better result”.  Blah.

Meanwhile, the Variety Pusan blog has the first part of everything he said in the class.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at what celebrities around the world are up to, including Zhang Ziyi’s latest film and Charlie Yeung reminiscing about Leslie Cheung.

- For all you fans out there waiting for the next Evangelion film, wait longer: The latest film is now set to be released in Japan some time in early Summer 2009.

- Variety looks at the numerous film funds out there for Asian filmmakers, including the Weinstein Asian Film Fund, the RGM fund, and even the latest multi-national Irresistable Films Fund for new filmmakers…….except the company retains final cut, “for the filmmakers’ own good,” of course.

- Despite their upcoming indefinite hiatus, Japanese band Southern All Stars is still as prolific as ever: Two of the band members will appear in the 33-part short drama that are based on their songs.

- Major Japanese TV network TBS is suing North American network ABC because its game show Wipeout features an obstacle course that resembles far too much to TBS’ hit shows “Takeshi’s Castle” and “Sasuke”, as well as other hit obstacle game shows from the 90s that have seen a second life as dubbed shows on American cable networks.

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.

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 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 - July 26th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s do a little prediction to this weekend’s Hong Kong box office. On Thursday opening day, The Dark Knight continues its domination of Hong Kong theaters despite the arrival of Pixar’s Wall-E. On 74 screens, the comic book film made another HK$1.91 million for a 8-day total HK$26.05 million, and will have no problem passing the HK$30 million mark this weekend. Meanwhile, the Disney animated film made HK$1.14 million from 57 screens without any ticket price inflation and with most of the screens showing the dubbed Cantonese version. The new X-Files movie opened on 34 screens and made only HK$320,000, and should wrap the weekend up with around HK$1.5 million.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to Now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$21.14 million after 15 days.

Poor Red Cliff has become the casualty, as many Hong Kong theaters have reduced it to simply 2-4 shows a day in the small auditoriums. Even Broadway Cinemas, run by Edko, who co-distributed the film in Hong Kong, have reduced showings dramatically to make way for this weekend’s openers. However, a quick scan at online presales show that these few shows are all at least 80% capacity, which means on 36 screens, it may wrap up the weekend at around HK$23 million and may make its way towards HK$25 million by the time it’s involuntarily wiped out.

More on Monday when the numbers are out.

- The overall Japanese box office has taken a bit of a dip in the first half of 2008, with the big three distributors (Toho, Toei, Shochiku) taking 49% of the pie, the five major Hollywood studios taking roughly 36% of the pie, and the rest sharing roughly 12% of the pie. While the major distributors - both Japanese and American - took a fall in revenue, smaller distributors Gaga and Showgate actually saw an increase in revenue. Too bad Gaga still lost money.

- A much welcomed Okaeri to the Japan film news site Hoga Central. When the blog was still at Blogger and just starting out, Hoga Central was one of the first sites to link to me. Good to see ya back.

- Lovehkfilm fans are gonna go nuts over this. Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue have both taken the Best Actor Award at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival for the Singaporean/Hong Kong film Rule No. 1.

(via Hong Kong Film blog)

Meanwhile, prizes for the most promising projects at the festival has also been given out.

- Media Asia sees UK-based film distributor Tartan fall, and decides to take back all the movies Tartan bought the distribution rights for.

- Imagine this conversation:

Record Company Executive: “So, Hamasaki-san, what was your last release?”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Oh, it was a remix album. My 6th.”

Record Company Executive: “Yeah, and we split that into two full-price albums. Here’s your royalty check, by the way.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Oh, thank you. I still haven’t cashed in the check for my album from earlier in the year.”

Record Company Executive: “Take your time with that. We’re still getting together the check for your last single. Splitting that into four different covers really helped the sales.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “I’ll bet!”

Record Company Executive: “So when was the last time you released a compilation?”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Just last March. We even split that into two full-priced albums too. The money from that bought me a new make-up artist. My 5th.”

Record Company Executive: “Well, your new album can’t be ready yet, right? So we think it’s time you release a new compilation album.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Already?! I only have one album’s worth of new songs.”

Record Company Executive: “Oh, it’s OK. We’ll just do the B’z thing and include all of your singles in it, and make it one 3-disc album to seem like a huge saving!”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Really? Only the price of one album?”

Record Company Executive: “Oh, we’ll make two different covers for it, of course.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “I’m in.”

- Twitch’s X looks at why people aren’t so hard on the fact that one film is taking over 45% of total box office in Korea.

- There’s a ton of new posts at Ryuganji, but this one caught my eye the most: Personal recent favorite Haruka Ayase will be starring in a film called Oppai Bare, and I’ll let you read for yourself what that translates to. Ayase only really caught my eye with her cute-as-corn-syrup performance in the TV drama Hotaru no Hikari, so I had no idea about her model past.

Just to add, the film is written by Be With You/Space Travelers screenwriter Yoshikazu Okada. He also recently wrote the ratings flop drama Muri Na Renai.

 
 
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