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Archive for the ‘animation’ Category

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.


- 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 - October 1st, 2008 Edition

- Mamma Mia finally took the top spot at the Korean box office, bumping The Divine Weapon down two places. Meanwhile, Jeon Do Yeon’s latest My Dear Enemy at 5th place, although it’s already considerably better than the director’s previous work, since it was only on TV.

More from Korea Pop Wars

- In China, where Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin actually did open, it made 15.2 million RMB over the weekend. That’s even better than the opening for The Warlords last year. With the National Day holiday coming, the film is expected to make a ton of cash by the end of the weekend.

Also, today’s Oriental Daily reports that Benny Chan’s Connected is expected to reach the 20 million RMB mark by the end of the holidays.

- Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Film Blog goes back to the one theater in Hong Kong that’s supposedly playing Painted Skin. The blogger notices that the earliest show on Monday morning was at 10:45 am (Which was sold out, apparently), though the first shows for the other films don’t start until after 11:30am. So he went to the cinema to take a look, and finds that there are not even any staff working at the theater yet, let alone audiences to fill the seats.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! SMAP has now become the second Japanese “vocal group” (read: boy band) to sell more than 10 million albums, thanks to the number 1 debut of their latest. Meanwhile, Exile scores a big debut week with their latest single.

More over at Tokyograph

- Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal has a bunch of reviews of films he saw at the Bangkok International Film Festival. In addition, he also wrote an extended review of the four-hour documentary Citizen Juling.

- The parent company of Hong Kong film distributor Media Asia is apparently in so much financial trouble that they may not be releasing any more films this year. This may apply to Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook, which was supposed to be released in September and was postponed indefinitely for “post-production work”.

- Japan Times has a feature on animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, as well as a short history of his Studio Ghibli.

- Poor NHK just can’t get a break for their once-popular morning drama timeslot. Their previous morning drama Hitomi wrapped with a dismal 15.2% average, which is the worst rating ever for an NHK morning drama. Meanwhile, their latest morning drama (starring the stars of one of the highest rating morning dramas in recent years) premiered with only a 16.8% rating, which is the 3rd worst-rated premiere episode in history. Ouch.

- The 2nd Asian Pacific Screen Awards have announced their nominees, with Johnnie To’s Sparrow leading the pack with four nominations. Tokyo Sonata, The Good, The Bad, and the Weird, and The Chaser were also recognized with nominations. The Sparrow is the only Hong Kong representative that received nominations.

- The artist formally known as Sonny Chiba has been appointed as a guest professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. He will be teaching film acting, which will also include lessons on sword fighting. Sounds only like the most awesome film school class ever.

- Since Variety simply has way too many reports from the Pusan International Film Festival, I’ll just link you to the main page with all the reports. Enjoy.

The Golden Rock - September 24th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s first do a quick catch-up of Hong Kong box office numbers. Among the opening films, Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan leads the pack (must be a first for an Adam Sandler film in Hong Kong), making HK$3.38 million from 31 screens after 6 days. Surprisingly, Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is doing surprisingly well, making HK$1.49 million from 20 screens after 5 days. That means on average, the film surpassed the HK$10,000 average everyday since it opened. Bottle Shock is all the way down there with just HK$120,000 from 4 screens after 6 days.

As for other films, Mamma Mia is at HK$7.99 million after 13 days, 4BIA is at HK$3.68 million after 13 days, and still on 26 screens. 10 Promises With My Dog has made HK$3.4 million after 13 days, which is only half of what A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies made half a year ago.

- It’s Jpaanese Oricon charts time! Yet another compilation has arrived to bump Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest compilation off the #1 spot on the albums chart. This time, it’s B’z second compilation album of the year, selling a phenomenal 400,000+ copies in its first week.

On the singles chart, boy group V6’s latest debut on top, while Angela Aki’s latest debuts at 3rd place.

More at Tokyograph

- It’s trailers time! All of them are from Twitch today. First it’s the trailer for the Japanese comedy GS Wonderland, about the 60s boom of the so-called “Group Sound”. Then it’s the trailer for Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2, and I have no idea what the hell is going on in it either. Lastly, it’s the second trailer for the Korean romantic comedy My Wife Got Married, starring Son Ye Jin, who still looks fake when she’s trying to do the sexy thing.

- Under “directors taking on new projects” news today, Voice of a Murderer and You Are My Sunshine director Park Jin Pyo is directing from his own script for Flower Man, about a man with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and a woman funeral home director. The more surprising news today is producer/ex-convict Haruki Kadokawa taking on his first directing job in eleven years for the thriller The Laughing Cop. Kadokawa has had a string of flops lately as producer for God’s Puzzle, Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea, and even the Tsubaki Sanjuro remake didn’t do nearly as well as hoped. And of course, he mentioned prison again at the press conference.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog, the producers of the Hong Kong-China produced fantasy flick Painted Skin are trying to pull a fast one on the Academy Award committee after being picked as Hong Kong’s representative for Best Foreign Film. The rules stipulates that for a film to qualify at the awards, it must play for at least 7 days in the home region before October 1st. However, all the ads around the city say that the film doesn’t open until October 2nd. The blog did some investigation, and found that one theater has a listing on the newspaper saying that it is showing the film, but instead of stating the showtimes, it only says “5 shows a day”. The theater’s website doesn’t even have such a listing.

When the blogger showed up to the theaters, the showtimes list actually has Painted Skin’s showtimes on it, but the blogger couldn’t even buy a ticket for it, with the staff saying that the film doesn’t open until the 2nd. Also, the theater’s showtimes listing for the following two days also have Painted Skin on it, but simply lists the film as “sold-out”. Essentially, what’s happening here is the producers have somehow found a loophole and simply put up a guise that the film is undergoing a qualifing run without actually letting people see the film.

Again, the original blog post in Chinese

- Japan’s NTV will be using 33 songs by legendary pop band Southern All Stars as the basis for a series of short 10-minute dramas, with the broadcasting date and format yet to be confirmed. Most of these ideas just sound really bad at first, and yet the networks somehow pull it off. I hope that’ll be the case here. Still, they must be running out of ideas if they need to use 33 songs.

- Director Junji Sakamoto, whose child-prostitution film Children of the Dark was barred from screening at the Bangkok International Film Festival a few days ago, held a press conference on the festival’s opening day to protest the festival’s decision.

- Under “foreign distribution” news today, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata has been picked up for North American distribution, and is set to open in 2009. I’m not holding my breath, though. Meanwhile, the American remake of the Korean romantic comedy classic My Sassy Girl will be getting a theatrical release in Korea in late October. The film went direct-to-DVD even in its native America.

- Mika Nakashima is taking on a rare TV drama role this coming season. I hope she won’t just be playing another variation of Nana.

- The American-financed animated film Astro Boy, worth noting here because it’s being produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios, now has a release of October 23rd….That’s October 23rd, 2009.

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2008 Edition

- Guess who just won the weekend box office in Hong Kong again? For the 4th weekend in a row, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes the top spot, making HK$816,000 from 34 screens on Sunday (again, much of it from the higher-priced 3D showings) for a 25-day total of HK$30.92 million. Brendan Frasier is now the most bankable star in Hong Kong this year, with his two films making a total of HK$68 million and counting in Hong Kong.

This means that the Pang Brothers’ remake of Bangkok Dangerous got bumped down to second place, making almost HK$520,000 from 34 screens for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$1.85 million. The film will likely finish on par with the brothers’ recent efforts at around HK$5-6 million. The other only opener that made it to the top 10 is the horror film The Strangers, which made HK$103,000 from 15 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$390,000.  According to the Hong Kong Film blog, the three Hong Kong-based films - The Luckiest Man, A Decade of Love, and Rule #1 - made 4-day weekend totals of HK$96,000, HK$80,000, and HK$78,000 from 12, 11, and 5 screens, respectively. The award-winning Rule #1 can be said to be the most successful one, because it’s only play on 5 screens, and at least two of those screens only play the film once a day at 11:45pm.

As for holdovers, Rec barely hangs in there for its second weekend, making HK$295,000 from 28 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$4.85 million. Cyborg She is showing surprising legs in its third weekend, still making HK$204,000 from 16 screens for an 18-day total of HK$4.47 million. Not hanging in so well are Hana Yori Dango Final, which made just HK$76,000 from 14 screens (with a reduced amount of a screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.18 million, and Partick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, which made just HK$59,000 from 22 screens (also with reduced amount of screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.53 million.

- In Japan cinema attendance chart, 20th Century Boys have come back from behind for a boost to 1st place in its second weekend, with Ponyo taking 2nd place and Hancock dropping all the way to 3rd place. Sex and the City also got a boost up to 5th place, which shows that it’s got staying power, even if it’s only limited to the urban areas. Nim’s Island debuts at 6th place, while Goo Goo the Cat shows that cats are just not as popular as dogs in the cinema with an 8th place debut.

- In an amazing turn of events, the Taiwanese Academy Awards representative Cape No. 7 saw a boost of 77% in box office gross for its second weekend, and has thankfully now surpassed Kung Fu Dunk as the highest-grossing local film in Taiwan.

- That was quick: Some Summer 2008 dramas are already wrapping up their runs, though the drama ratings aren’t getting any better. First, Sono Otoko, Fukushocho ended with a barely above-average 11.9% rating for its last episode and a season average rating of 11.8%. That’s considerably lower than the 13.5% average of the first series. Yottsu no Uso takes an early ending with only 9 episodes, wrapping up with an above-average 9.6% rating for its final episode and a 9.3% season average. The Takashi Sorimachi-starring flop Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko ended up with only a 6.4% rating for its final episode and an embarrassing 6.5% season average. It’s about to be the flop of the season, because Koizora has boosted its season average to 6.4% because of a season-high 7.6% rating for this week’s episode.

Tomorrow wrapped up with an OK-14.1% rating final episode for a season average of 12.6%. Right now, it’s looking to be one of the better-performing dramas of the season, behind Taiyou to Umi no Kyoushitsu (14.1% rating for this week’s episode), Yasuko to Kenji (dropping to a 13% this week after a one-week hiatus), and Code Blue (down to a below-average 14.9% rating for its second-to-last episode). Getting close to the end of the season apparently isn’t energizing the ratings battle any, with only Koizora reaching its season high this week.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph.

- With its screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the beatdown of the Yu Wai Lik’s Hong Kong co-production Plastic City continues. This time, it’s jury member Johnnie To’s turn to do the beating, quoted by Apple Daily: “I think director Yu Wai Lik has yet to finish making the film. Great cinematography cannot make up the film’s whole.”  He also said that he does not agree with the jury’s pick for Best Actor and the Golden Lion, saying that the Turkish film Milk and Russia’s Paper Soldiers should taken those awards, respectively.

Jury president Wim Wenders also lament that there’s a rule set by the festival that the Golden Lion-winning film cannot also win Best Actor, which explains why Mickey Rourke didn’t pick up Best Actor for The Wrestler, despite being the heavy favorite. When the Japanese press asked Wenders why Ponyo didn’t pick up any prizes, Wenders simply said that he lost sleep over Ponyo because he likes the film very much. He also said that in order to prove their love for Ponyo, the jury members will be singing the theme song for the rest of their lives.

Original story by Apple Daily.

- Variety also cover the snubbing of Asian films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

- As for Plastic City, its sales company has confirmed that they will work with the filmmakers to recut the film after its screenings at Venice and Toronto. The company blames the rushed post-production process for the film’s bad word-of-mouth and urge potential buyers to wait for the new cut.

- In Toronto, Momoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers was acquired by Sony for distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. Strangely, Warner Bros. Japan was a major distributor of the film in its native Japan, although Sony actually acquired the rights directly from the film’s production company.

- Korean director Choi Dong Hoon has gotten a hell of a cast in hopes for a third consecutive hit after The Big Swindle and Tezza: The High Rollers. This time, he’ll bring a historical figure into modern times as a superhero from the past fighting supernatural figures.

- Perhaps not as exciting to some people is the official announcement of Utada Hikaru’s second English album, which is now slated for a seond half 2008 release. Actually, I’m kind of excited. But that’s only because I’m a fan that kind of liked her first English album.

- Some Japanese content makers have decided to embrace the internet video format, uploading their own content either on Youtube, or on their own company’s video site. Of course, I must point out that while GyaO allows foreign users to register, they actually do not allow computers from non-Japanese IP address to view their contents, which, for the lack of a better word, sucks.

- Twitch offers up approximately ten seconds from the upcoming animated film Gatchaman, produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios.

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown reports that after the failed Azn Television in America, the other Asian-American network ImaginAsian is looking at layoffs after a new CEO took over.  This goes to show that mainstream America just doesn’t care.

The Golden Rock - September 6th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - August 29th, 2008 Edition

- Time to look at opening day box office in Hong Kong. Journey to the Center of the Earth continues to hold onto the top spot, making HK$830,000 from 34 screens on Thursday for a 15-day total of HK$23.33 million. However, according to the Hong Kong Film blog, roughly 65% of that Thursday take is from the 3D version, which charges a significantly higher ticket price.

As for opening films, the Spanish horror film Rec has the best debut, making HK$456,000 from 29 screens. With a shorter length, more shows per day, and fairly aggressive marketing, the category III film should attract the younger 18-and-older audience over the weekend. Those who can’t get into Rec may try for Patrick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, but the weak performance of advance screenings last weekend carried over, as the romance-horror film made only HK$211,000 from 34 screens on its opening day. Where Patrick Kong goes from the film’s impending failure should be interesting, as young audiences are either getting tired of his contrived overdramatic teen romance shtick, or they just don’t find Alice Tzeng a good substitute for Stephy.

Attracting older audiences over the weekend will be the Hollywood romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding II Maid of Honor. Even though it only opened with HK$266,000 from 25 screens on opening day, it should still get a good enough boost over the weekend to get it past the HK$1 million mark by the time the weekend’s over.

In more limited releases, Hana Yori Dango Final also joins in to attract the teen audiences (it’s the final weekend before school year starts in Hong Kong, and seems to work. On just 12 screens, the schoolgirls-oriented fantasy romance made HK$184,000. Looking at internet sales, some theaters are already moving to larger screens, which means it might be looking at a pretty big boost over the weekend. Lastly, the British romance The Edge of Love opened on 6 screens for a weak HK$58,000 take. More when the numbers come out on Monday.

-Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea has passed another major mark, recording over 10 million admissions in Japan on the 41st day of release. In comparison, Spirited Away took 31 days, Howl’s Moving Castle took 44, and Princess Mononoke took 66 days.

- With the first installment of the mega-budgeted trilogy 20th Century Boys opening in Japan tomorrow (thankfully, it will open here in Hong Kong relatively quickly on September 25th), the Daily Yomiuri looks at how the long-planned adaptations came about.

And Jason Gray posted his thoughts on the film during my hiatus.

- Korean public broadcaster KBS has expanded their KBS Film Festival to 10 theaters nationwide for the first time. Also, they will also be making the films available online and through broadband television. In its 4th year, the KBS Film Festival brings over films from around the world that would otherwise never make their way into Korean theaters.

-  Yasufumi Terayaki, the younger half of the Aibou duo, will be leaving the hit detective show after its 7th 6-month season, which is slated to start in October. No word on how the actor’s departure will be dealt with on the show, and no word on whether the show will continue on without one of the show’s two stars.

The Golden Rock - August 28th, 2008 Edition

- While we keep waiting for Box Office Mojo to update their Japan numbers, Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant looks at the opening for the Sex and the City movie in Japan. On 286 screens, the film adaptation made roughly 190 million yen. The opening is 85% of the opening weekend gross of distributor Gaga’s female-oriented A Moment to Remember in 2005. Considering the fact the Korean film came out during the peak of the Korean wave, saw very good word-of-mouth, and didn’t require knowledge of any source material, it’s not likely that Sex and the City will hit anywhere near A Moment to Remember’s 3 billion yen gross. Also, Mr. Texas reports that the film only did well in urban areas like Tokyo, which doesn’t spell well for the New York gals in long-term gross.

- Tokyo News Reporter looks at why Japan hasn’t warmed up to The Dark Knight, resulting in a much lower box office gross than expected, despite fairly good response from those that have seen it. Remember this is the same country that made Hana Yori Dango Final a hit, which would explain the whole thing about audiences liking their action films light and fluffy.

- With the Olympics ending, people in China are heading back to the cinemas, propelling the grosses for The Incredible Hulk to over 24 million yuan already, far surpassing the gross of Ang Lee’s take on the green monster. Of course, there are now more screens and more audiences in China. Add that with the promise of more action, it’s no surprise that the new Incredible Hulk would do so much better.

- The Chinese film Survival Song by director Yu Guangyi has picked up the top prize at the 2nd Cinema Digital Seoul Festival. Another Chinese film, The Little Moth, picked up the audience prize.

- Celine Dion will hit the movie theme song world again with a contribution for director Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s latest film. When the hell did Tsutsumi find time to make another film when he’s busy with the 20th Century Boys trilogy?!

- Under “not a bad idea” news today: Hollywood studio Paramount has commissioned a Singapore-based animation house to produce mobile comics to promote their upcoming films. No idea how much the comics themselves will relate to the films and how much carriers will be charging for these content.

-In John Woo’s continuing spiral into old-age sentimentality, he now announces that he wants to make a sports film with Chinese gold medalists Guo Jingjing and Liu Xiang. Of course, then his producer Terence Chang turns around and says “um…really?” When did the director of Hard Boiled and The Killer turned into…this?

- Associated Press’ Min Lee looks at Connected, the Hong Kong remake of the Hollywood film Cellular. Benny Chan continues to show off that he’s doing it better than Hollywood, but it’s that kind of ego-stroking that gets me worried.

- (via Japan News Junkies) NHK has announced that they are launching a 24-hour network that will broadcast English-language programming from Japan to all over the world via satellite. However, NHK already has a similar network called NHK World that I currently get for free here in Hong Kong, so what exactly are they talking about?

Also, Nippon Television has announced that they will be one of the network’s investors, but no word on whether they’ll provide any content.

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 - July 23rd, 2008 Edition

It’s either a really slow news day, or it’s been a long day. Here we go:

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$20.36 million after 13 days.

- Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective opened on one screen in America. With a total of 8 shows over the weekend, the film made only USD$2,682, which means each show only averaged USD$335.25. An average ticket cost from USD$8.50 to USD$11.50, which should tell you how many people went to see it. Even though it’s also playing through video-on-demand, it’s still pretty painful to report that number.

- Cyzo (Thanks to Ryuganji for the link) reveals the top 10 grossing films in Japan for the first half of 2008, which is any film that opened from December 2007 to May 2008.

1) Partners the Movie (Aibou) - 4.4 billion yen
2) I Am Legend - 4.3 billion yen
3) The Golden Compass - 3.5 billion yen
4) Doraemon - 3.37 billion yen
5) A Tale of Mari and the Three Puppies - 3.14 billion yen
6) The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - 3 billion yen
7) Enchanted - 2.9 billion yen
8) National Treasure 2 - 2.6 billion yen
9) Detective Conan - 2.42 billion yen
10) Earth - 2.4 billion yen.

That’s 6 foreign films and 4 Japanese films, only one of which is live-action. Of course, we still have The Magic Hour and Hana Yori Dango to add to that second half 2008 list.

-It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! The Korean boy band TVXQ sets a record for foreign artists with their third #1 single (and probably another record for the longest song title ever). Yui Aragaki’s first single makes a 2nd place debut (surprising, considering this is how she sings). Kimaguren knocks GReeeN!!! off the top spot at the album chart with their latest album.

More at Tokyograph

- After Japan named its favorite robotic cat as its animated ambassador, Korea has unleashed their own robot as a “goodwill delegate” for refugees.

- After Dragonball, 20th Century Fox is apparently in the process of turning another Japanese animation into a live-action film.

- In the continuing series of ridiculous product lines for pachinko machines (refer to my Japan reports), director Hiroyuki Nakano has remade Kurosawa’s Seven Samurais for a pachinko machine. It even co-stars Sonny Chiba and featuring a soundtrack of Rolling Stone songs.  I have to say, Paint it Black sounds pretty good with samurai on horses.

- Last Friends villain Ryo Nishikido has found his next drama role, this time presumably the good guy with Johnny’s mate Kazunari Ninomiya for an adaptation of another popular novel.

- Ryuhei Kitamura has announced that he will be remaking his classic film Versus for America and that it will be “insane”, which means more of the same with better makeup?

- Not liking Ponyo is like wanting to hurt little puppies, and it looks like there are plenty of people who will want to hurt little puppies.

The Golden Rock - July 22nd, 2008 Edition

- Japanese cinema attendance figures are in. As expected, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot, with the latest Pokemon movie right behind. As a result, everything gets bumped down by two places, except for One Million Yen Girl, which managed to debut at 10th place. I’d say more when the numbers come out, but I have no idea when that will be.

Jason Gray does have the 3-day holiday weekend numbers for Ponyo. With 1.57 billion yen, the take is actually 96.6% of Spirited Away’s 3-day holiday weekend take. And anyone who wants to rain on Ghibli’s parade should know that Ponyo’s admission was actually 101.6% of Spirited Away’s opening weekend, although that’s also attributed to the larger screen count.

-  Meanwhile, Korean box office figures are also in. As I reported several times already, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird opened huge and is now the third biggest Korean film debut in history (why, oh, why couldn’t it beat D-War?!). Also, now Song Kang Ho is in two of the top three biggest openings in Korean film history as well.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time. The Spring 2008 drama season has officially wrapped up. As mentioned before, CHANGE managed a huge finale rating of 27.4% for a season average of 21.7%. Meanwhile, Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Hachi-One Diver wrapped with just an 8.3% rating, averaging an 8.4% rating for the season. This is the lowest-rated drama at that time slot since Fuji began it a year ago.  The only show left is Rookies, which will wrap this Saturday with a 2-hour episode, even though TBS initially announced that they were not going by a typical season schedule for it.

Most of the Summer 2008 season dramas have started, with Gakkou ja Oshierarenai premiering last week with a 9.9% rating. Meanwhile, Monster Parents has rebounded to a 13% for its 3rd episode, Seigi no Mikata dropped slightly to a 10.1%, Maou continues to drop with a 9.2% for its third episode, Tomorrow also drops slightly to a 13.5%, and detective drama Shibatora also drops slightly to a 12.2%

Code Blue stayed the course with a 16% rating for the second week in a row, Yasuko to Kenji actually saw an increase to 13.1% for its second episode, and the well-received Yottsu no Uso saw a small drop to 10.6%.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to, Red Cliff has made HK$19.71 million after 12 days. 20 million, here we come!

Variety reports that despite the impact  other major summer films had on Red Cliff’s second weekend around Asia, it has now made USD$45 million, which means the two films combined should earn the investors most of their money back.

- Kou Shibasaki and Masaharu Fukuyama will be teaming up again in the studio for their second music collaboration, this time for the film version of their hit drama Galileo.  I hope it’s better than their first song together.

- Don Brown over at Ryuganji reviews the action film Chameleon, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara.

-  With the movie business losing money, Korean film companies are turning to the stage, turning films into musicals in the new musical boom of Korea.

- Tomoworo Taguchi will be making his second Jun Miura adaptation, and Lily Franky shows that he has the acting bug with his second starring role after All Around Us.

-Ryuganji also looks more at Satoshi Miki’s latest, although both videos embedded on the site have been taken down already.

- Disney has acquired their first Bollywood film for North American release, even though it will go straight to video.

- A theater in Beijing has become the first in the world using a laser projector. The technology has not been installed in theaters in American and other countries because of safety regulations, which explain why China managed to take the first step.

- In a further proof to show that Smap is everywhere in Japanese pop culture, the boy band will be singing the theme song for one major network’s Olympic coverage. One of the members will also be a caster for that channel’s coverage for the third Olympic in a row. Copyright © 2002-2018 Ross Chen