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Archive for the ‘actors’ Category

The Golden Rock - July 8th, 2008 Edition

- As expected, Hancock topped the Korean box office, as Hollywood films dominate for another weekend. However, Public Enemy Returns is reaching the 3 million admissions mark, though Crossing isn’t making much of a dent.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Korea is not the only place where local films are suffering at the box office, as Bollywood is also posting a loss of about USD$37.5 million for the first 6 months of 2008.

- The controversy surrounding the “Waiwai” column on the English version of the Manichi Daily News website continues. Apparently, the newspaper is caving to those obsessed Japanese netizens by not only punishing those involved with the column, which translates Japanese tabloid magazine articles to English, but also carrying a thorough investigation into the column. I did read Waiwai, and I enjoyed reading it as trashy fun. While those responsible should’ve made it more clear about its sensational nature, isn’t it becoming a bit of a witch hunt now?

- With Kung Fu Panda now a major hit in China, Chinese filmmakers are asking why they can’t make that same type of film in their own country. Somewhat surprisingly, they get blame the government and live to tell about it.

- Danny Glover made a public appearance in Tokyo to talk about his latest film, the Japan-American co-production The Harimaya Bridge. He said that he hopes the film will bridge Japanese and American prejudices. I assume that means for America, they should get rid of stuff like I Survived a Japanese Game Show. As for Japan, they should probably not do something like this:

img_0189.JPG

Yes, those are two Japanese actors doing Driving Miss Daisy in full make-up.

- It’s reviews time! First up is Variety’s Derek Elley’s very positive review for the Chinese comedy Two Stupid Eggs. He obviously liked it more than I did.  Hollywood Reporter has a few new reviews for some Bollywood flicks, but the one I’m most interested in is Lisa Tsering’s review for the sci-fi epic Love Story 2050.

- The life of Japanese boxer Daisuke Naito, which include being bullied at school and a period of isolation at home, will be turned into a TV movie. It will be shown at the end of the month.

- Jang Dong-Gun will supposedly be starring in Korean director Lee Myung-Se’s next film. However, the report may be talking about the documentary Earth, which is the shortened film version of the TV documentary Planet Earth. In Japan, the film was narrated by Ken Watanabe, and it was definitely not directed by Lee Myung-Se.

Correction: Turns out maybe the report, seems to be badly translated, is reporting that Jang will be narrating Earth after starring in Lee’s latest film M. Maybe.

- A Brazilian telenovela (the South American version of a soap opera) will be shooting in Indonesia. Wait, do they mean the whole thing?

- Another Japanese drama is going to the big screen. However, unlike your usual adaptations, this drama was shown on TV after midnight because it features nudity. No word on whether said gratuitous nudity will be translated to the big screen as well.

- Some netizens have pointed out that parts of the poster for John Woo’s Red Cliff resemble the poster for the Hollywood film 300. Who’s surprised that an Asian film would rip off Hollywood designs, and who’s surprised that there will be people complaining about it? I don’t see any hands raised.

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2008 Edition

Catching up on weekend number crunching:

- Time for Japanese box office. As expected, Paramount included last week’s sneak preview numbers to boost their opening weekend figures for Indiana Jones. After deducting the 597 million yen figure reported by Eiga Consultant last week, the actual opening weekend number is actually roughly USD$7,890,000, or 847 million yen from 789 screens. Meanwhile, The Magic Hour continues to do well, losing only 12% of business and now passed the 2 billion yen mark. Aibou continues to have similar holding power, losing only 13.7% of business and is now past the 4 billion yen mark at the box office. In fact, nothing on the top 10 dropped by more than 26% at the box office this weekend, making for quite a healthy weekend in Japan.

In the battle of the two family-friendly films, the music-themed August Rush did much better with a 3rd place debut, thanks to the shameless advertisement, which literally asks potential audience to “please cry”. The other film, the Japanese-language The Witch of the West is Dead, debut all the way down at 6th place, and was actually on less screens to begin with.

- Finally some good news from Korean cinema, as The Public Enemy Returns rocketed to the top of South Korean box office with 1.6 million, outdoing Hollywood challengers Get Smart and 21.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Despite some nonsensical complaints against it, Hollywood’s Kung Fu Panda reached the earthquake-strickened Sichuan Prefecture in China and is expected to do quite well. In fact, it already made about 10 million RMB this past weekend. The fact that the performance artist who complained against the film includes panda images in his work just says so much about his motives anyway.

- It’s Japanese TV drama ratings time! As previously mentioned, this season’s bona-fide hit Last Friends scored a season-high 22.8% rating for its last episode, after a tough start at the beginning of the season. The much talked-about drama has cliched a third-place finish with an average rating of 17.7%. That leaves Gokusen and CHANGE fighting out for first and second place. With Gokusen’s ratings still hovering below 20% this week (a slight rebound to 18.1%, actually), CHANGE may have a chance as it nears its climax these several weeks. Right now, Gokusen has an average of 22.5% (mostly likely to go up with its finale this week), and CHANGE has an average of 21.2%, which means CHANGE is still within reachable distance to a ratings victory this season.

In other ending dramas, Muri Na Renai rebounded with a 7.7% for its final episode, the third season of Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Gakari ends with a season-high 15.4%, Around 40 ends with a 15.1%, and Hokaben ends with an 8.9%. More next week, when many of the remaining dramas wrap up.

- Good news for Hins Cheung, and depressing news for Hong Kong music, as Hin Cheung’s first compilation album became the best-selling album in Hong Kong for the first half of 2008 with only 50,000 copies sold. In fact, the top selling Hong Kong albums are either concerts (Andy Lau, Eason Chan), compilations (Joey Yung, Hins Cheung), or cover albums (Alan Tam). The only original album on the chart is Taiwanese artist Joanna Wang’s debut album, which sold a measly 20,000 copies. This proves the problem in Hong Kong that illegal downloading is so prevalent that an artist’s popularity far precedes their sales figures. Just think: Denise Ho sold out all 7 of her concerts in 2006-2007, which adds up to over 70,000 people. However, her compilation sold only 20,000 copies so far.

Here’s the translated list of the top 10 best-selling albums in Hong Kong from January to May 2008, from this picture on Hong Kong’s Ming Pao:

Hins Cheung’s my 1st Best Collection
Andy Lau’s Wonderful World concert
Eason Chan’s Moving On Stage 1 concert
Love 07 compilation
Joey Yung’s Like Joey compilation
Beyond’s 25th Anniversary compilation
Alan Tam’s The Best Sound Ever Reborn
This is Classical Music compilation
Joanna Wang’s Start From Here
Denise Ho’s Goo Music Collection

-  (via Ryuganji)Ghibli World has a write-up on the latest trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest Ponyo On a Cliff By the Sea, (that’s the official title on the poster), though it followed Ghibli’s policy of providing no video content for the internet. I saw the trailer yesterday, and it looks like a return to simplicity for the master.

- Just as Japan is finished being swept up by promotional wave for The Magic Hour, TBS is now filling their screen with Hana Yori Dango all day just ahead of the film version’s opening this Saturday. After their major promotional event at the Budokan, now it’s a one-hour special on TV just before opening day.

- Despite Japan’s aggressive policy to push people to get into digital broadcasting (the previously-mentioned “analog” screen text will begin next month), a survey reveals that only about 43% of all Japanese TV-watching households are digital-ready.

- The Chinese government has enacted a law requiring all media to give the government’s emergency response efforts free publicity, part of a larger law that requires more efficient emergency reporting during large-scale disasters.

- What kind of TV actually otdoes Japan is doing low-brow reality shows? America’s ABC, for actually putting the words “holy sushi” in the ad for a xenophoblic show like “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”.

- Twitch has an interview with director Ryo Iwamatsu, whose latest film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival.

- After the surprise success of Dai Nipponjin, comedian/director/actor Hitoshi Matsumoto is reportedly already polishing the script for his follow-up film, while a possible sequel for Dai Nipponjin is also being discussed.

The Golden Rock - June 20th, 2008 Edition

Will be away for the weekend again, so here we go with the news for the weekend:

- A surprising turnout at the opening day Hong Kong box office, as Johnnie To’s Sparrow managed to beat out all the major competition to take the top spot on its first day. From a modest 30 screens, the caper film made HK$527,000, and is poised to take the weekend if it sees a boost in adult audiences over the weekend. However, Narnia and The Incredible Hulk are breathing down its neck not too far back, with HK$460,000 and HK$410,000 each and looking to take up the younger audiences over the weekend.

As for the other opening films, Hollywood parody flick Superhero Movie is down at 4th place with HK$373,000 from 22 screens, and City Without Baseball only made HK$40,000 from 8 screens, despite the citywide blanket promotion and its multiple appearances in the news. Lastly, Las Vegas caper film 21 made HK$35,000 from 2 screens. More on Monday or Tuesday when the weekend numbers are out.

- Universe did the distribution for Sparrow, and news has come out that its major shareholder is apparently trying to exit the company and sell its share to another firm. No word on whether this will affect for their ongoing productions, which include the Pang Brothers’ Storm Riders sequel.

-  I literally read about this at three different places in the last 24 hours, along with coverage on daytime entertainment news yesterday. So I’ll just let them do all the talking: I’m talking about respected Japanese director Koji Yakusho making his directorial debut that’s now filming and looking for a release next year:

(in order of discovery)

Tokyograph report.

Jason Gray report

Variety Asia report.

I can’t tell if this will be serious like Tokyo Sonata or quirky like Dog in a Sidecar yet. Either way, I assume that Yakusho has picked up enough from all the directors he’s worked with to do fairly well with his debut. I hope.

- I wrote a half-paragraph review of The Magic Hour because I don’t want to give a full review of a film I only understood 60% of. So here’s a review from Japan Times’ Mark Schilling, someone who did understand the whole movie.

- China has issued the first set of licenses for over 200 sites to share streaming video over the internet, but failed to include some of the country’s biggest sites on that list.

- As the world slowly moves from analog to digital television broadcasting, the ASEAN (Association of Southeastern Asian Nation) has come together to set a unified standards for the member nations’ own transition.

- The Daily Yomiuri looks at the Chinese film The Western Trunk Line, a film about a rural village just after the end of the Cultural Revolution that picked up the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

- The Southern All Stars managed to cram in one more high-profile single before their hiatus, which will be featured in the latest line of a cosmetics commercial.

- This week’s Televiews Column on the Daily Yomiuri covers observations on mainstream Japanese media and how they cover recent breaking news such as the Akihabara killer and the major earthquake last week. I agree - I really don’t want to know anymore about how quickly this crazy bastard managed to slice down people, and I don’t want to see anymore cameras shoved into greiving families’ faces.

- Jason Gray also covers the latest news on Takeshi Kitano’s new film with the release of the poster. Kitano as a painter? He so crazy.

The Golden Rock - June 16th, 2008 Edition

Back from a short weekend trip, but will be heading out for a day trip to Tokyo tomorrow.  Don’t worry, I’ll make it up somehow.

Anyway, it’s too early for box office numbers, although numbers from Hong Kong last Friday suggest that the new Incredible Hulk will do moderate business, with Narnia being bumped to second place. More on Wednesday.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! The Spring 2008 drama is finally coming to a close in the next several weeks (except for CHANGE, which is in the middle right now). The real success this season has been the controversial Last Friends, which premiered with only a  13.9% rating.  However, its hot topic subject matters (Domestic violence! Gender crisis!) helped lift it to a season-high 20.9% rating for its second-to-last episode this  past week. However, Fuji executives are probably still sweating over CHANGE, which saw the second consecutive week of under-20% rating, although it did rebound slightly. I know a few readers out there have been wondering why I keep calling it a disappointment, despite its second place standing. However, imagine a TV drama starring Andy Lau getting beat in the ratings by a drama starring Stephy Tang. A Kimura Takuya drama is usually the top drama of the season, and I think it might’ve been hurt by the secrecy-filled promotional campaign and the extremely late start. Then again, maybe Japanese people really don’t care so much about political dramas.

Actually, ratings leader Gokusen suffered a huge drop for this week’s episode, losing to CHANGE and Last Friends with only a season-low 17.6% rating. If I remember correctly, the second installment of the drama never dipped below 20% during its  run in 2005. However, since all the dramas on Saturday and Sunday took a dip from the previous week, there’s a small chance that the major earthquake in the Northeast area of the main island might have affected television viewership. The most affected drama has to be Ryoteki Na Kanojo (It doesn’t translate to My Sassy Girl, but it’s what it is), which has not yet become the lowest drama in average ratings, but broke the 6.0 rating mark with a 5.9% rating for this week’s episode. Meanwhile, the drama with that dubious honor, Muri Na Renai, dropped again to a 6.3% rating ahead of its final episode.

Dramas that got their season-high ratings this week (and has not been mentioned) are Hokaben, Shin Kasouken no Onna, Shichi Nin no Onna Bengoshi with 9.6%, 17.1%, and 11.7%. Other than Gokusen and Ryoteki Na Kanojo, no other drama saw season-low ratings this week. Lastly, Friday night 11 pm TV Asahi drama Kimi Wa Hannin janai yo ne? wrapped up with a 9.4% rating for its final episode and an 8.9% average for the season.

- The Shanghai International Film Festival has started, with Hollywood Reporter Asia providing full coverage. However, it’s opening has not been the smoothest. First, organizers had to go for a more subdued approach to the opening after the Sichuan Earthquake. Then the press screening of the opening film had to be canceled because the print didn’t arrive. However, things are still pretty promising, with two foreign films getting their premieres. This is a big deal because the SIFF didn’t have a world premiere until 2006.

Also, going smoothly at the same time is the Shanghai Television Festival, where TV writers from Hollywood came together in a forum and presented an exhibition on editing.

- Meanwhile, the troubled Bangkok International Film Festival has finally set a date for this year’s edition, and will partly overlap the Thailand Entertainment Expo.

- Japanese animation director Kunio Kato picked up the top prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which is known as the “Cannes of animation”. The 12-minute film also picked up the Junior Jury Award under the short film section.

- After the success of The Magic Gourd in China (and pretty much nowhere else), Disney is getting ready to release their second film aimed squarely at the Chinese market. Coincidentally, the film, now in post-production, is about pandas and shot in the earthquake-affected Sichuan Province. Don’t be surprise if they reshoot to make it a disaster movie.

- The so-called “New Queen of S&M” in Japanese cinema is suffering a bit of a setback, with magazines featuring her pictures actually selling less, while her latest film is a dud in limited release. Mark Schilling of Japan Times reviewed the film earlier this month.

- Another Japanese drama sequel is on the way next season, as summer 2007 drama Sono Otoko, Fukushocho is coming back for a second round this summer.

See you all back at the same time, same page on Wednesday.

The Golden Rock - June 10th, 2008 Edition

Lots of number crunching today, so here we go:

- As expected, Narnia got a huge boost over the weekend at the Hong Kong box office as the younger audience turned up in droves over the holiday weekend. On Monday (the public holiday), the adventure epic made HK$3 million from 72 screens for a 5-day total of HK$11.27 million. Meanwhile, Sex and the City didn’t its Narnia-sized bump because of its restricted rating, although it didn’t do too damn bad either. From 43 screens, the TV adaptation made HK$6.38 million over the 5-day weekend. Of course, remember that both films had a ticket price increase due to their lengths, so it may not necessarily reflect attendance.

Meanwhile, all the openers from last weekend dwindled down to 5-digit numbers this past weekend. Penelope leads the pack with HK$93,000 from 15 screens for a 12-day total of HK$2.86 million. The Moss is struggling to get to The Pye-Dog’s gross with only HK$57,000 from 13 screens and a 12-day total of HK$1.22 million. It deserves better. Shaolin Girl took a big dive in its second weekend, with just HK$25,000 from 14 screens on Monday, and a 12-day total of HK$1.25 million. And despite being the Academy Award winner for best foreign film, The Counterfeiters doesn’t seem to be destined for limited release success, with only HK$250,000 after 12 days on 3 screens.

Lastly, Indiana Jones finally passes the HK$25 million mark after 19 days, while Iron Man is still on the top 10 after 41 days with a HK$21.69 million total.

- The Japanese entertainment news media had a busy weekend, as the “big three” (Toei, Toho, and Shochiku) each had a wide release this weekend. As expected, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour took the top spot in the attendance chart. According to Variety, it made a spectacular 506 million yen from 379 screens over the opening Saturday and Sunday. Since The Wow-Choten Hotel never made it to Hong Kong, I’m even going to venture into this while I’m here and see what the fuss is all about (although I’m sure I won’t understand half the movie).

Meanwhile, the Tsukiji movie (now named The Taste of Fish as a first in a planned yearly series) is relying on word-of-mouth it make it profitable with only a 6th place opening. Takashi Miike’s God’s Puzzle didn’t even make it in the top 10 in attendance and is not likely to gross enough to surpass 27 Dresses in gross. At least Toei still has Aibou the movie, which is still in 3rd place this weekend. More when the numbers are out.

-  Things are depressing in South Korea, as local films made up only 7.8% of total market share at the box office in May, making it Korean cinema’s worst month ever since the relevant authorities started counting.

Meanwhile,  June isn’t starting out very well, with only one Korean film making the top 10 this past weekend all the way down at 5th place. Last year, the similar happened with the endless summer assault of Hollywood blockbusters, but things may even be worse this year.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! As the season moves closer to the end, several dramas hit their season low. These dramas include Zettai Kareshi, Osen, Puzzle, Around 40, Kimi Wa Hanin Janai yo ne?, and Ryoteki na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl) at 12.1%, 8.4%, 8.0%, 13.3%, 7.7%, and 6.3%, respectively. Baseball drama Rookies started its second part with an average 15.4% rating, while Gokusen fell again slightly to a 21.3% rating, and remains the highest-rated drama of the season so far. Kimura Takuya’s CHANGE is high up at 2nd place, but fell below 20% for the first time. As it reaches the middle just when other dramas are hitting their finales, I think Fuji is trying to boost ratings as the only drama still on the air for the season when everything else is over.

- Zhang Ziyi is heading to Hollywood once again, acting opposite Hugh Grant this time as a Chinese director working with a top British star and a translator in their way.

- It’s trailers time! Nippon Cinema has a trailer for Monster X Strikes Back, about a monster named Gurara attacking the G8 Summit and Beat Takeshi showing up to save mankind. It’s all in the trailer. Twitch has the link to a trailer and comparison shots for the newly redrawn and re-sounded Ghost in the Shell 2.0. Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown links us to the full-length trailer of Detroit Metal City, which looks like a fun dose of absurd Japanese humor.

- In related news, a single featuring Detroit Metal City star Kenichi Matsuyama as two characters will be released along with the film.

- Variety’s Justin Chang offers up a review of the new Japanese sports film Dive!, which opens this weekend in Japan.

- Under “celebrities looking for a PR opportunity from natural disaster” news today, director Chen Kaige will be taking a break from post-production of his latest film to direct a short film for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake about successful Chinese sports player to show Chinese people overcoming difficulties. I’m sure after The Promise, he needs all the goodwill he can get for his latest. Why, yes, I have been told that I’m cynical.

A Bee Gee member jumps on the bandwagon to criticize China for something. Granted, said Bee Gee member is the head of the CISAC, and he’s talking about something legitimate like rightful royalty payment to artists that are not being paid, but really, take a number and get in line.

- Bittorrent Japan has made 27 films and animation videos available for free for 3 days ahead of the Interop conference in Tokyo. Here’s the page.

The Golden Rock - June 3rd, 2008 Edition

- Korean cinema takes a huge tumble this past weekend at the Korean box office, with foreign films taking 9 out of 10 places in this past weekend’s chart. And the only Korean film only made it to 9th place. Ouch.

Box office gross from Korea Pop Wars

Attendance figures from Twitch.

- Prince Caspian seems to be staying at the Japanese box office charts for the long run, losing only 16.2% of its opening weekend gross this weekend. Aibou is in it even longer, continuing to lose only single-digit percentage (9.5% this week). Meanwhile, Cyborg She’s opening of 178 million yen. I guess The Bucket List is a favorite among adult audiences, making enough money to surpass 27 Dresses for 6th place in the gross ranking and losing only 16.4 of business (though 27 Dresses ranked higher on the attendance chart). Kenji Uchida’s After School also played strongly in the second weekend, losing only 11.7% of business on the same amount of screens. Oh, and Shoot ‘Em Up opened at 16th place.

-  I seemed to have forgotten to report the Japanese drama ratings for last week. Everything seems to be floating in the weeks leading to the finales. Only two dramas - New Investigator Mariko and Shichinin no Onna Bengoshi - hit their season high with 14.2 and 11.4, respectively. Last Friends got a big boost again up to 18.8% after two weeks of slipping ratings. CHANGE and Gokusen risk falling down below 20% (it actually finally happened to CHANGE this week, but more on that next week), although Gokusen rose slightly in the ratings for its latest episode. And Ryoteki Na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl) is the only drama to hit a season-low this week. And to think the producers expected a 20% rating for this.

Japanese drama sypnoses at Tokyograph

- Finally, an American remake of the hit Death Note films has been announced. Though no word whether they’ll try to cram both films into one.

-  The bus stop ads for Lawrence Lau’s City Without Baseball has been changed after one person complained to the bus company about the upper male nudity in the poster. The film’s co-director has snapped back, complaining that Hong Kong is becoming increasingly conservative. I guess one person can make a difference in this world after all.

- It’s trailers time! Twitch has uploaded an extended trailer for the first installment of the comic adaptation 20th Century Boys. Also, Nippon Cinema has a short trailer for the live-action version of Grave of the Butterflies.

- Fans of Weezer and/or BoA, you now have a reason to pick up the Japanese version of Weezer’s latest album.

- What was meant to be a promotional event for a drink by American group The Black Eyed Peas is now a charity concert for the Sichuan earthquake fundraising efforts. Good for them.

- Grady Hendrix over at Kaiju Shakedown covers the messy situation going on between Raymond Wong and Wong Kar-wai over the title for their Yip “master of Bruce Lee” Man movie. Sorry, Mr. Wong, I’m putting my bet on Wong Kar-Wai to make the better movie anyway.

-  Japanese pop star/Nana-in-real-life Mika Nakashima is forming a band with a comedienne trio. No word on the comical or musical value of the product.

- Warner Bros. continues to expand its presence in Asia with a new deal to make an animated film about birds in India.

- Rinko Kikuchi would like to expand outside her cultural zone and play….a half-Japanese role.

The Golden Rock - May 24th, 2008 Edition

- Watching TV today, I realize that the trailer for Johnnie To’s The Sparrow is up, and I found it on Youtube. Whoever edited it is a genius.

-Under “Cannes market deal” news today, Variety has a wrap-up of the various deals Cannes market. Meanwhile, Jason Gray also has a look at the deals being made for Japanese films at the market.

Also, director Wim Wenders have a Korean investor involved with his latest film, an adaptation of a novel by Ryu Murakami.

- The comic adaptation Maison Ikkoku is coming back for another live-action episode this summer.

- Amidst the current situation in China, it’s amazing that the media authority in the government still has time to get some censorin’ on.

- The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the flash animated movie Eagle Talon II, currently playing in one Tokyo theater. Confession time and relax time in the middle of the movie? Sounds like a ton of fun.

- Actress Aoi Miyazaki just picked up the Galaxy Award for her starring role in the Taiga drama Atsuhime, currently playing to pretty damn good ratings on NHK.

The Golden Rock - May 21st, 2008 Edition

- The Japanese box office numbers are out. Aibou topped the chart for the third week in a row, losing only about 27% of business from last last week. The drama adaptation has now made nearly 2.7 billion yen with no signs of stopping. Meanwhile, Kurosawa remake The Last Princess dropped by nearly 40%, and has made just over 500 million yen so far. If word-of-mouth doesn’t pick up on this, it may be a disappointment for Toho. However, Toho still has the successful Conan film and Shaolin Girl (nearly 1.3 billion yen) to back them up.

On the other hand, The Mist lost only about 30% of last week’s business, and The Sand Chronicles is also hanging in there, losing only about 28%. The Bucket List also managed to stay at 2nd place not only because of Charlie Wilson’s War’s soft opening, but also because it lost only about 33% from its opening week.

Remember the percentage change is only a rough figure due to fluctuating currency from week to week.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! This week, KAT-TUN sees their latest single debut at number 1, making it their 7th consecutive number 1 single, while Ayaka’s latest single could only debut at 6th place. On the albums chart, Superfly’s debut album debuts at number one, while actor Yutaka Mizutani’s self-cover album debuts at number 2. More at Tokyograph.

- The name My Sassy Girl just doesn’t mean much anymore: While the Japanese drama version is flopping on the ratings chart, the American remake is now sent directly to video without a theatrical release.

- The European Union is reporting that they are seizing less pirated entertainment than before, and such goods from China also fell by 20% (from a whopping 93% the year before). However, that could just mean that people are finding better ways to get them in or not getting caught.

- Variety reports that Hong Kong director Yui Lik-Wai’s Plastic City now has Hong Kong’s Sundream Pictures and Japan’s Bitter End on board, while Hong Kong’s Ming Pao adds that it stars Hong Kong’s Anthony Wong and Japan’s Jo Odagiri as father and son.

- Meanwhile, John Woo announced at Cannes that his next movie will be the Chinese epic 1949, chronicling events that occurred at the end of World War II and the Chinese civil war. While it’ll supposedly be a love story, the fact that Woo is trying to finish the film by the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC should tell you that it’s a China-approved love story.

- Also, a British film following the rise of Mao Zedong is in the making……with Vietnamese soldiers. This movie may not be China-approved.

- It’s reviews time! Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee chimes in on Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, while Variety’s Leslie Felperin has a review of Possession, the Hollywood remake of the Korean film Addicted.

- While we’re on the topic of remakes, Dreamworks really went through the old inventory and manage to buy up the remake rights to the 2003 hit Japanese film Yomigaeri. By the way, the Dreamworks-produced A Tale of Two Sisters remake is now called The Uninvited - the name of another Korean horror movie.

- Apparently, the critical and commercial failure of that Genghis Khan movie really got to Haruki Kadokawa’s head….now I’ll go swing my wooden sword a few thousand times.

- Tartan USA, who brought Oldboy and the Election films to America, has sadly closed down.

- Koizora, based on the internet novel about the trials and tribulations of a young Japanese girl, is now going to TV after the film was one of the biggest theatrical hits last year. The director and the production crew from the film are returning, though the cast will not.

The Golden Rock - May 7th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Muri Na Renai (the drama about the 60-year-old man in love with a woman 25 years younger) continues its freefall with a drop to 6.9% rating in the previous episode (we’ll talk about the latest episode next week(. Meanwhile, the Yu Aoi-led drama Osen drops quite a bit in its second week to an 8.7% rating. Last Friends continues to perform strongly, as its ratings went up to a 15.9% again for its 4th episode. However, it’s still the third installment of Gokusen that’s winning the season, though its ratings fell again for the second week in a row, now down to a 23.3%, although the Golden Week holidays may have something to do with it. Another freefalling drama to watch out for is Ryokiteki na Kanojo (aka the drama adaptation of Korean film My Sassy Girl), whose rating dropped by another 2.8% to only an 8.7% for its third episode.

Japanese drama info at Tokyograph.

- It’s Japan music charts time! On the Oricon charts, Koichi Domoto, under the name of his character in the movie Sushi Ouji got the number one single. Shuchishin (what is the big deal with these guys?) continue their stand at #2, beating all the other new releases of the week.

Meanwhile, Madonna topped the album charts with her latest album, as the other new release, the Sushi Ouji soundtrack barely got on the chart.

More at Tokyograph.

Meanwhile, the more comprehensive Billboard Japan 100 charts put British artist Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love” at the top and Hata Motohiro at 2nd place, with the latter due to radio play. Since the Billboard charts have different criteria such as radio play and surveying possibly a different number of stores, it’s interesting to see the different ways of gauging musical popularity.

Also, Thelma Aoyama’s hit single “Soba Ni Iru Ne” is now the top single of 2008…so far.

- No Japanese box office numbers yet, but different reports are coming in about Aibou’s phenomenal opening. Over the 5-day holiday weekend, the drama adaptation already racked up over 1.2 billion yen, and its attendance figures is at 150% of YAMATO’s opening, although I don’t think YAMATO opened on an extended weekend such as this.

report from Tokyograph.

report from Variety Asia.

- Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee has a review of Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms - Resurrection of the Dragon. What, no mention of Maggie Q’s “when my men battle, I rock the ancient guitar” routine?

- The troubled Bangkok Film Festival is back this year, but it’s now been shifted from July to September, and it will probably be part of the new Bangkok Entertainment Expo, modeled after the successful Hong Kong Entertainment Expo.

- Question: How the hell do you pull off a concept single with “vivid” as a concept?

- Grady Hendrix looks at what’s wrong with Korean films this year just from looking at the trailer for The Legendary Libido.

- Under “your daily Edison Chen news” today, actor/director Stephen Fung confirmed that his latest film Jump is currently stuck in limbo while awaiting approval from China’s SARFT. Also, he said that he did not cut one frame of Edison’s role in the film.

- Lastly, Nippon Cinema gives us a look at just how hard it is to promote a blockbuster film in Japan these days.

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The Golden Rock - May 1st/May 2nd, 2008 Edition

- It was a public holiday in Hong Kong on Thursday opening day, so the box office gross were fairly high.Iron Man, which opened on April 30th here, had a pretty big May Day with HK$2.6 million from 57 screens for a 2-day total of HK$4.09 million. It should have no problem with hitting that HK$10 million mark by the end of the weekend. Another film with an impressive per-screen average is the period drama The Other Boleyn Girl, which made HK$254,000 from just 6 screens on its opening day. There’s also the Japanese film Mari and Her Three Puppies, which made HK$772,000 from 22 screens (with only one playing the original Japanese version). Wong Jing’s latest My Wife is a Gambling Maestro got past the HK$10,000 per-screen average as well with HK$371,000 from 27 screens on opening day. Hell, even crocodile thriller Rogue made HK$73,000 from 7 screens. Sadly, Lawrence Lau’s Besieged City made only HK$38,000 from 6 screens.

- It’s Oricon charts time! Korean boy band TVXQ’s latest single debuts on top yet again, with male trio Shuchishin staying at 2nd place. Meanwhile, Arashi’a latest album tops the albums chart, with Bennie K’s compilation debuting far behind at 2nd place.

More over at Tokyograph.

- On the heels of L For Love, L For Lies‘ success, writer/director Patrick Kong is already shooting his next film, though with the cast of Alice Tzeng and Andy On instead of Stephy Tang and Alex Fong Lik-Sun. Is he trying to move into auteur territory here?

- In related news, Stephy Tang has just started work on her latest film, a Chan Hing-Ka-directed comedy in which she plays an underwear inspector. The film also features Ronald Cheng, Andy On (the man’s got a lot of work lately), and the Shine Boys. Didn’t Chan Hing-Ka already make a comedy about underwear?

- Japanese newspaper Nikkan Sports have been revealing the winners for their yearly drama Grand Prix all week. Here are the winners:

Best Drama: Yukan Club
Best Actor: Jin Nakaishi - Yukan Club
Best Actress: Maki Horikita - Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
Best Supporting Actor: Shuichi Nakatsu - Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
Best Supporting Actress: Yu Kashii - Yukan Club

Be sure to remember that the winners were voted by the general public, and both these dramas feature popular idols. This means the result may not reflect the true quality of these shows.

- Organizers at the Cannes Film Festival have announced Blindness, the latest from City of God director Fernando Meirelles, as the opening film. This marks the first time a Japanese film has been selected as the opening film at Cannes because the film is actually a co-production between Brazilian, Canadian, and Japanese production companies. It also features Japanese actors Yoshino Kimura and Yusuke Iseya. Jason Gray has more details about the co-production deal.

- Under “various Korean film news” today, Twitch has a teaser for King and the Clown director Lee Jun-i’s latest Sunny, about a Korean woman who joins the entertainment troupe to find her husband fighting in the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, a Korean dance group will join the production of the latest Hollywood teen-oriented dance movie Hype Nation, with 60% of the film to be shot in South Korea. Tezza director Choi Dong-Hoon is now working on a big-budget superhero film. Lastly (because it’s only somewhat related), the horribly-titled multi-national martial arts film Laundry Warriors has wrapped filming.

- Emperor Motion Pictures hasn’t really had it hit in a while, so I’m just wondering, where did they get the money to finance in a major Hollywood production?

- In a recent visit to The University of Southern California, Chinese director Feng Xiaogang talks about how much he hated Forbidden Kingdom. These are his words translated (original Chinese text from Apple Daily):

“The film’s story itself is already problematic. It’s a mess. I just couldn’t keep watching. I don’t know why it’s doing so well at the American box office. I would not dumb down something to simply please the American audience. ”

I didn’t like the film either, but dyamn!

 
 
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