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The Golden Rock - December 15th, 2008 Edition

- The Day the Earth Stood Still scored one of the biggest opening weekends this year at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, the sci-fi drama made HK$2.62 million from 86 screens (That’s a 10 screen increase from opening day) for a 4-day weekend total of HK$10.57 million. It should have no problem crossing the HK$20 million mark, unless Ip Man puts a dent in it next weekend along with that poor word-of-mouth.

Only one other film on the top 10 broke the HK$10,000 per-screen average on Sunday. From 3 screens, the Japanese film Ikigami made HK$37,000 on Sunday for a 11-day gross of HK$450,000. Meanwhile, the opening films didn’t get much of a boost over the weekend. Romantic comedy Four Christmases made only HK$231,000 from 26 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$820,000. Tsui Hark’s All About Women did only slightly better from its disasterous opening day, making HK$109,000 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$410,000.

The Golden Horse Awards last weekend didn’t help its award winners here in Hong Kong. Cape No. 7 continues its gradual decline with HK$125,000 from 23 screens on Sunday with HK$7.28 million after 25 days. Herman Yau’s True Women for Sale (whose star Prudence Lau took Best Actress at the awards)also lost about 50% of its audience with just HK$22,000 from 5 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$440,000.

As for other films, Dante Lam’s The Beast Stalker is now at HK$7.5 million after 18 days, making the HK$10 million mark extremely unlikely now. Wu Jing’s Legendary Assassin is at HK$2.08 million after 11 days. Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect, another Gold Label film, is at HK$3.1 million after 18 days (the 24 days included the weekend previews), and What Just Happened is at HK$620,000 after 11 days.

- On the Japanese box office attendence chart, Wall-E retains its number 1 spot while two other animated films enter at 2nd and 3rd place. However, since they are animated films that would attract a large kids audience, their places on the box office gross chart may end up lower. More when the numbers come out.

-The comic-turned-TV drama-turned film Mr. Tadano’s Secret Mission dropped to 7th place in the second week. However, that didn’t stop TV Asahi from bringing back for its 4th season. They’ll even move it from the late night 11pm slot to 9pm, even though it means they’ll have to cut down on the sex.

- No Japanese TV drama ratings yet, but the Mainichi News reports that the NHK period drama Atsuhime scored a 28.7% rating for its final episode for an average of 24.5%, the highest for NHK in the last decade.

- Even though Korean superstar Rain didn’t make much of an impression with Speed Racer, this stunt reel found on Twitch proves that he’s ready for his starring role in Ninja Assassin. Girls, you may scream……………….now.

- Also, the website for Vincent Kok’s Lunar New Year comedy All’s Well’s End Well 2009 has uploaded a half making-of, half teaser. It mainly consists of a lot of people laughing and making funny faces.

- Twitch also has a teaser for the aniamted film Miyamoto Musashi, written by Mamoru Oshii and produced by his production company.

- Korean actress Bae Seul-ki will be in a major role for the Hollywood production Finale, playing a cold-blooded killer who takes on the Italian mafia.

-The Golden Rock’s favorite enka singer Jero has revealed that his second single was written by pop singer Yo Hitoto, who starred in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Cafe Lumiere.

- Japanese box office champ Toho has announced its 2009 lineup, which includes the new film by Isshin Inudo (more details from Ryuganji) and Kankuro Kudo’s latest.

- Actor Park Shin-yang has been banned from any television drama made by any member of Corea Drama Production Assosication because he asked for too much money for appearing in extra episodes of the drama he was working on and sued when he didn’t get paid.

- Twitch has an interview with Tokyo Sonata director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but be warned that there are some spoilers for the movie in it.

- Thai actor/comedian Sayan Doksadao has passed away. He was one of the world’s few actors working with Down syndrome.

The Golden Rock at the Golden Horse - not-so-live blog

Thanks to the magic of reruns, This blogger will be watching The Golden Horse Awards rerun after he returns from a concert. So from 11:30pm Hong Kong time (you’ll have to figure out what that time is in your own time zone), I’ll be live-blogging the rerun of the show with simultaneous commentary. That means you can first read the more-informed, more professional, and more-read Variety Live Blog before coming here for this idiot’s comments. I was hoping to get Kozo to do it, but obviously he’s the brains of the operation by not doing it.

Of course, I won’t be cheating by checking out the results first. The coverage this year should be less interrupted since I won’t be watching it on a free TV network, which hopefully means no abrupt commercial breaks.

But before that, here are some predictions:

Best Original Song: Cape No. 7
Best Original Film Score: Cape No. 7 (though I would like to see Sparrow take it)
Best Action Choreography: The Warlords or The Assembly
Best Make up and Costume Design: Warlords or Red Cliff
Best Art Direction: Red Cliff
Best Visual Effects: CJ7
Best Cinematography: Cape No. 7 (though it’d be nice for Sparrow to win this too)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Assembly (I want Pang Ho-Cheung to win for Trivial Matters, and why isn’t The Warlords in this category?)
Best New Performer: Johnny C.J. Lin - Cape No. 7
Best Supporting Actress: No prediction
Best Supporting Actor: Ma Ju-Lung - Cape No. 7
Best Actor: Jet Li - The Warlords
Best Original Screenplay - The Warlords screenwriting committee
Best Actress - Too close to call
Best Director - Wei Te-sheng - Cape No. 7
Best Film - Cape No, 7

So that’s a prediction of 7 awards for Cape No. 7, because Taiwan will probably riot if it doesn’t win at least one major award.

11:29 pm: OK, all logged in and ready to go. The concert got out later than expected, and I had to sacrifice a MacDonald’s run. Instead, I have a pack of peanuts and a bottle of milk tea. The sacrifices I make for this blog.

The original live broadcast isn’t over yet, so I’m going to set some ground rules:

I don’t speak very good Mandarin, and my listening is worse, so forget about translating. I’ll just be explaining what’s going on with some comments.

Also, feel free to comment along the way here, or at the Lovehkfilm forum.

11:34 pm: Show still not over yet. OK, I guess I’m not sleeping ’til 3:35 am.

11:37pm: Struggling not to watch the live show for spoilers…………

11:40 pm: Show still not over. Maybe I should’ve gone to MacDonald’s…

11:46 pm: Live broadcast over, waiting for rerun now.

11:50 pm: Here we go. Lin Chi-ling starts off with a dancing performance while lip-syncing.

11:51 pm: Nice wire-work.

11:54 pm: Now I get it - It’s a dance performance for each nominated Best Picture.

11:57 pm: Ultra-serious epic Warlords interpreted in modern dance with Lin Chi-Ling shaking a stick. Let’s move on.

11:58 pm: Good, it’s over. Hong Kong’s Dodo Cheng and the host of Channel V’s girl-based talent show are the hosts. It’s gonna be a struggle hearing Dodo work through her Mandarin lines.

12:00mn: Mark that: 10 minutes for the first mention of Cape no. 7

12:02 am: OK, first award time: Presenters are…Vivian Hsu and Ando… know who I’m talking about.

Ando’s been studying Chinese for three months, so either he’s good at remember his rehearsed lines, or it’s actually not that bad.

The first award is for Best Sound Effects.

And the award goes to: Steve Burgess for Tsui Hark’s Missing.

12:05 am: Looks like the award is edited to save time. Good, it won’t be such a long night.

12:07: Miao Miao’s Fan Chih-Wai and Annie Liu come out to present the second award. Man, Annie Liu’s Mandarin is good.

Wait, she’s from Taiwan? That would explain it.

OK, the award is for Best Documentary. My teacher Angie Chen’s This Darling Life is one of the nominees.

The award goes to…….Up the Yangtze. Sorry, Angie.

The director is Canadian-Chinese, and gives his speech in English. “Long live Chinese cinema, long live Chinese documentary.” Seeing that he said that in Taiwan, I wonder who would interpret that in a political way.

12:12 am: Fan and Liu stay to present the Best Short Film Award.

And the winner is……Hopscotch.

12:15: It’s amazing that it’s been 15 minutes since anyone mentioned Cape No. 7.

12:16 am: Skipping another commercial break, Gao Jie and David Chiang comes out to present the award for…..they’ve been talking for 2 minutes now. And now we know it’s for Best Cinematography. Mark that it was 18 minutes of no mention of Cape No. 7.

The award goes to……Sparrow. This was the one I wanted to win!

12:20 am: The two stay to present another award. Best editing. I don’t think I predicted this one, and I don’t know why.

And the award goes to………Connected.

There’s been more people accepting awards for the award winners than award winners there!

12:23 am: Vicky Zhao and Cheng Chen present the Best Supporting Actress Award.

And the award goes to……..Orz Boyz’s Mei Fang.

Mei fang has been acting for 45 years, and extremely excited to get the award. It’s quite touching, actually. No cynicism here.

12:29 am: The two stay to present Best Supporting Actor. Cape No. 7 resurfaces, and has won no award as of yet.

And the award goes to………..Ma Ju-lung, for the first Cape no. 7 award of the night!

Ma delivers his speech in Taiwanese. There goes the Greater China audience.

12:32 am: Vanness Wu and Jaycee Chan present the award for……why the hell is Vanness wearing a bowler hat?! And he should probably shave. Jaycee, on the other hand, has a nice Khalil Fong look going with the thick black glasses.

Vanness praises Jaycee’s performance in Police Story. Ouch.

The award is for Best Action Design. Of course, there’s one DOOOOOOONNNNIIIEEEE movie in there (Empress and the Warriors)

And the award goes to…..Connected. Wow, that’s a bit of a surprise. And of course, Nicky Li is not there to pick up the award. Legendary Assassin needs all the promotion it can get.

12:38 am: Oh, good, a small break: It’s a martial arts performance, as the Golden Horse Awards further the Chinese-language cinema stereotype.

Channel V-produced boy band Lollipop tries to outdo Jay Chou’s theme song for Fearless by enunciating! Oh, it’s with completely new lyrics.

12:44am: They’re trying to sing the Game of Death theme song in Cantonese. This is freaking hilarious. It’s over after one verse. I wished it lasted longer just for laughs.

12:47am: Oh, good, it’s over. Kevin Chu (on my black list for Kung Fu Dunk, and thankfully NOT nominated for anything tonight) and Kelly Lin present the award for……….Chu asks Kelly whether she wants to pull a Lust, Caution. All HK film fans would thank him for this contribution, unlike say…..Kung Fu Dunk.

OK, the award is for Best Art Direction. The award goes to………..Parking! This is a surprise.

The two stay to present Best Make-up and Costume. The award goes to: Candy Rain. At least it awarded it for the only thing the movie had: style.

12:52 am: Eason Chan and Coco Lee present the award for……….first, they kiss each other’s asses, then Coco asks Eason the Hong Konger to explain Trivial Matters’ Chinese title to segue into talking about the importance of the award. Oh, damn it, I missed the pun in the middle of being annoyed.

Ok, the award is for Best Film Score. The award goes to……….Cape No. 7. How can THE Taiwanese movie of the year that’s also about music not win this award?

12:58 am: uh-oh. Audio problem with one of the mics onstage.

The two stay on for another award: Best Original Song. Wait, no live performance of the songs?

and the award goes to……….Cape No. 7’s South of the Border. Again, no surprise. That’s 3 awards so far for the Taiwanese blockbuster.

1:02 am: Someone please fix that damn mic.

1:05 am: Mathieu Amalric and Karen Mok present the award for the International critics award to Parking.

1:10 am: Who’s Marco Tempest? And why is he on Taipei 101? Let me google him.

OK, he’s an illusionist, and he’s about to pull off some kind of trick.

So he just brought himself from Taipei 101 to the awards 168 km away within a minute while putting a map right in front of a DV cam with a live feed. And now he’ll take the next few minutes to advertise himself.

Ok, the live tricks are nice, but what does this have to do with the movies?

1:14 am: Oh, I get it. He’s going to present the Best Visual Effects awards?

Oh, more tricks first.

Oh, come on, he’s not even presenting the damn award. And he just revealed that the Taipei 101 stuff was actually on TV with him pointing the camera at it.

1:20 am: OK, Guey Lun-Mei and Kitty Zhang present the Best Visual Effects award.

And the award goes to……….The Warlords. That’s the first award of the night for Peter Chan’s film.

1:22 am: Finally, the first commercial break of the rerun.

1:26 am: Back from commercial break. Now either the Special Contribution Award or the Lifetime Achievement Award.

1:31 am: I feel bad for not paying attention to what the presenters are saying. This is for the Lifetime Achievement Award for Cheng Fang. Sorry, I’m not paying attention to what he’s saying, either.

1:35 am: Now the Special Contribution Award to Huang Ren.

1:40 am: Sorry, these kind of awards are always the down time for me. I mean no disrespect to the award winners.

Ok, now the Audience Award.  Wu Jun and Cape No. 7’s Johnny Lin present the award.

The award goes to……..Cape No. 7. No surprise at all, of course.

1:47 am: Lin Chiling presents an award from the audience stands. That’s a nice……..and very small dress.

She’s presenting the Best New Actor award. And the award goes to……………Suming Chiang of Hopscotch. Having Cape No. 7 take up two nominations probably spread out the votes for it.

1:53 am: Coco Lee performs a song about loving movies. They took out the Best Original Song performance for this and a magic performance instead?

1:57 am: So the performance is doubling as the In Memoriam segment as well.

2:01 am: Time for the Best Screenplay awards, with Eric Tsang and Karena Lam are presenting the award. Eric Tsang gives a shoutout to Winds of September, which he produced.

First the Original Screenplay. The award goes to……………Winds of September. Eric Tsang jumps for joy.

And now time for Adapted Screenplay with a very very happy Eric Tsang. The award goes to…………The Assembly. Disappointed as a Pang Ho-Cheung fan, of course.

Assembly screenwriter makes a crack Trivial Matters being “no matter” now, but says he liked the film very much.

2:13 am: A montage devoted to Taiwanese films. Oh, it’s a gag montage with other young Taiwanese film people, including Chen Bo-lin and the star of Island Etude.

They’re sitting around talking about how to make the next Cape No. 7. Fairly amusing.

2:15 am: A “to be continued” screen with a pigeon. Nice.

Kevin Chu pitches a film that combines the name of all the big Chinese films this year. After getting rejected for funding, he says “Taiwanese film will not die!” Kung fu Dunk didn’t help any.

Even Dodo Cheng joins in on the fun. She refers the hero to Ma Ju-lung playing a gangster-like loan shark. There’s even a part 3 coming.

2:22 am: Ang Lee and Brigette Lin come together on stage (the first time in a decade for Lin, according to her) to present the award for the Formoz Filmmaker Award.

And the award goes to………..Wei Te-Sheng, as expected. That’s the 5th cape No. 7-related award of the night.

The two stay for the Formoz Film Award. Remember the potential riots if you-know-what doesn’t win.

2:28 am: And the award goes to…………Cape No. 7, its 5th of the night.

Good thing they’re getting to the major awards now. These things are exhausting.

2:33 am: Never mind - Part 3 of the comedy short.

Comic sound effects are the least funny things in comedy EVER.

Peggy Chiao cameos as an aspiring actress………and gets casted. Movie name: Sea Horse No. 45.

Doze Niu of What on Earth did I Do Wrong show up and asks why Cape No. 7 could do it and not him.

And it ends with a voiceover by Ang Lee, identifying himself as a director born in Taiwan.

2:40 am: Johnny C. J. Lin does his erhu thing AND sings a Taiwanese folk song………………very off-key.

Of course, this year is all about Taiwanese film pride, so now comes a montage on the history of Taiwanese films.

2:45 am: Already crediting Cape No.7 with the resurrection of Taiwanese film is a little premature, no?

And the movie’s song gets its own live performance. The drumming is completely off-beat. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the movie’s group of musicians sing songs from classic Taiwanese films. I know Cape No. 7 is like the best thing since sliced cheese, but the ceremony is getting a little long.

And Van is not really a great singer.

They really don’t have to re-introduce the members one by one. Most people who care already saw a 2-hour movie about them. Why the hell are they singing the song they screwed up again?

Ok, the Cape No. 7 musical celebration ends without a performance of the award-winning song.

2:57 am: Shu Qi and Feng Xiaogang come out to present Best Actor. Feng thanks the awards for allowing him the opportunity to hold Shu Qi’s hand. Then he lets go.

A quick cutaway shot shows Johnny C.J. Lin’s seat is under his character’s name in Cape No. 7, as if no one will know his real name. Ouch.

The award goes to……….Zhang Hanyu, a real surprise! Feng Xiaogang gets to hand the award to his leading man.

3:04 am: Finally the home stretch. Sandra Ng and Peter Chan Ho-sun come out to present the Best Actress Award. Peter Chan wonders why he has to hold Sandra Ng’s hand. By the way, Ng is the mother of his child.

This is the toughest category to call. I’m sure the anticipation was intense, at least when it was live.

The award goes to………………Prudence Lau for True Women for Sale! Really, any of these win would’ve been a surprise. Hopefully, it’ll help its box office in Hong Kong for the rest of the week.

3:10 am: OK, two awards left. Zhou Xun and John Woo present the Best Director Award. What a slap to the face, by having Woo present the award he got snubbed for. Even though I didn’t think Red Cliff was as great as it could’ve been, Woo’s work deserved at least a nomination.

Will Cape No. 7 pick up the majors and complete this year’s Taiwanese film celebration?

And the award goes to……………Peter Chan Ho-sun! This doesn’t bode well for Cape No. 7.

Peter Chan says “this award did not come easily” in front of John Woo. I’m pretty sure Red Cliff was harder to make than Warlords.

Is it my imagination, or does Woo look bitter in the background?

3:18 am: OK, the final award of the night. Best film is being presented by Huang Tong and Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh thanks the Golden Horse Awards for not fogetting her. I didn’t forget Silver Hawk or The Touch, either.

The audience root for the Taiwanese nominees. Least applause goes to The Assembly.

Here we go. The award goes to…………………….The Warlords, in a comeback! It was called most overrated film of 2007 by the Lovehkfilm committee for a reason.

3:23 am: Final tally - Cape No. 7 picked up six awards (and another one for Cape No. 7 director Wei Te-sheng), and Warlords picked up three. Even though Cape No. 7 took the most awards as expected, its thunder sort of got stolen with The Warlords taking away the two most important awards.

All in all, the show is still too long and overblown. It even ran longer than last year’s ceremony.

Anyway, until the next big award ceremony, that’s it for now here in Hong Kong. Thanks to Boss Kozo and Variety’s Marcus Lim for stopping by. I need some sleep.

The Golden Rock - November 29th, 2008 Edition

- Mr. Texas of Eiga Consultant looks at the opening of two films from last week. First, he looks at the war crimes drama I’d Rather Be a Shellfish, starring Smap’s Masahiro Nakai and Yukie Nakama. Over the three-day holiday weekend, it made 407 million yen from 330 screens. That’s 105% of the three-day opening for The Glorious Team Batista, which went on to make 1.6 billion yen. More interesting is the audience breakdown, which was 81% female. Also, audience in their 20s made up a surprisingly 32.6% of the total audience (surprising because war dramas or post-war dramas tend to skew older). That’s the power of Smap.

Mr. Texas also looks at the opening of Tropic Thunder in Japan. From a modest 161 screens, the Hollywood comedy made 59.9 million yen over the first two days. Mr. Texas chose not to compare it to Night at the Museum because it was released much wider. Instead, this opening is 133% of Nacho Libre’s opening, which ended making 150 million yen. Hollywood-centric comedies like this usually don’t work so well outside of English-speaking countries, so this result comes as no surprise.

- It’s review time! From Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is the review for the big-budget diaster film 252 ~ Seizonsha Ari, about a super typhoon that hits Tokyo.  From the Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa is the review for the school drama Aoi Tori, starring Hiroshi Abe as a stuttering teacher that makes his new class face their past deeds head-on.

- Despite the global economic slowdown affecting pretty much everyone, Bollywood industry professionals insist that a film’s success “has nothing to do with stock markets or banks.”

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at how TV ratings data are compiled in Japan and what’s leading each program category in ratings.

- Twitch looks at the new Korean film A Frozen Flower by Once Upon a Time in High School and A Dirty Carnival director Yu Ha, which is a risky, high-budget, gay-themed period drama that sold fairly well at the American Film Market earlier this month.

- Also on the Korean front, the laughable fantasy blockbuster D-War is making its debut in Japan this weekend, and the Daily Yomiuri has an interesting article about shooting a Korean film about dragons on the streets of Los Angeles.

- Fans of stage dramas in Japan can look forward to the Japanese stage adaptation of the Hollywood film Phone Booth, starring Keiichiro Koyama of boy band NEWS.

- Finally, the Daily Yomiuri looks at the short film Dare Mo Shinanai, a 34-minute work about high school girls who play survival games with BB guns that also marks the directorial debut of painter Mr.. The trailer can be found here, and it’s now playing at a Tokyo theater in Shimokitazawa that specializes in playing short films.

The Golden Rock - November 6th, 2008 Edition

- This isn’t any type of bias. I’m going over the Japanese box office numbers first because it has more detailed statistics. As reported before, John Woo’s Red Cliff made an amazing 960 million yen over the three-day weekend. Box Office Mojo reveals that its two-day gross is roughly 665 million yen, which means it has beaten Hero’s 2-day 630 million yen opening to be the biggest non-Japanese Asian film opening ever. Interesting to see that Suspect X actually saw its two-day box office went up compared to last weekend, even though it’s already in its 5th weekend and no other movie saw its gross go up.

Even though Departures has already dropped to 10th place, but it lost only 9.4% from the previous weekend. The smallest drop, however, went to Journey to the Center of the Earth, most likely due to the popularity of the 3D version. On the other hand, the largest drop went to Fumihiko Sori’s Ichi, which joins a long chain of flops released by Warner Bros. Japan, who hasn’t had a number 1 opening since February with L: Change the WorLd.

- In Taiwan box office, megablockbuster Cape No.7 has finally been knocked off the top spot after 10 weeks there. It’s been knocked to 3rd place by Tropic Thunder’s opening weekend and the second weekend of High School Musical 3. I don’t think the filmmakers are sad, though; it’s already made an amazing 447 million Taiwan New Dollars, and the highest-grossing Mandarin-language film in the region. Meanwhile, high-profile films Body of Lies and 20th Century Boys are definitely now flops. Again, without screen numbers and per-screen averages, it’s hard for me to make kind of detailed analysis, so remember to not just go by standings and numbers.

- Under “more Cape No. 7 news” today, the Taiwanese hit has now been given the green light for release by Mainland Chinese censors, thanks to a warming of the two region’s relationship.

But even when it reaches Mainland Chinese cinemas, the film and its fans still have to put up something as ignorant and idiotically paranoid as this.

- The Japanese press is finally reporting on the Japanese remake of Sideways currently shooting in California right now. According to this report from a week ago, the assistant producer of the Fuji TV-20th Century Fox production says that it’ll be a remake “with all the bad stuff taken out”, whatever the hell that means.

-  Under “films by Hong Kongers I’m not looking forward to yet” news today, Jackie Chan has announced that he will not only produce and star in his next film, but he will also write the Qin Dynasty-set road movie. He also chose a relatively unknown director to start shooting it next year.

Meanwhile, Jeff Lau, best known for his irrelevant Wong Kar-Wai-parodying comedies, will next make a movie named Robots, which is poised to be the Chinese version of Transformers. It will start shooting later this month.

- Young actor Yuya Yagira has posted his first blog entry since his accidental overdose back in August. He writes that he is now overseeing his first novel, a “wrenching love story” that he hopes will be turned into a film with him in the starring role. Please make something light with a happy ending already!

- The American Film Market is now underway, and the major news is Japanese production companies continuing to buy up Korean content, though now at a lower price than during the Korean wave.

A little preview - The Golden Rock will have an interview up here with someone who’s actually done his thing at these film markets perhaps this weekend.

- France and China are close to signing a co-production treaty that will allow the French film industry look to one of the world’s fastest-growing film markets.

- Two ex-Morning Musume members (they call them “graduates”, I call them ex-members. Let’s call the whole thing off) are teaming up for a new unit whose debut mini-album will be released simultaneously in the United States.

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 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 29th, 2008 Edition

- Several major releases helped boost the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Benny Chan’s Connected tops the box office with HK$1.08 million from 42 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$3.61 million, pretty much guaranteeing that it’ll pass the HK$10 million mark. Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys is at 2nd place with HK$729,000 from 32 screens (including an inflated ticket price to compensate for its long running time) on Sunday and a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.48 million. I think HK$6 million is a pretty reasonable goal for final gross. The Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye is at 3rd place with HK$651,000 from 39 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.26 million.

Disaster Movie continues its disastrous run, with just HK$144,000 from 21 screens for a 4-day total of HK$530,000. Meanwhile, the excellent Korean thriller The Chaser also flops in its limited release, making only HK$28,000 from 5 screens on Sunday, but no weekend total was available from the Hong Kong Film Blog.

Amazingly, the softcore porn flick Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is still doing relatively well, making HK$177,000 from 16 screens for an impressive 10-day total of HK$2.48 million. I believe it still hasn’t had one day where the per-screen average was lower than HK$10,000, which is pretty amazing for a film of this type. Mamma Mia edges closer to HK$10 million, taking in HK$342,000 from 24 screens for an 18-day total of HK$9.28 million. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan somewhat holds up in its second weekend, making HK$313,000 from 30 screens for an 11-day total of HK$4.81 million. For those still following, Thai horror film 4BIA made HK$50,000 from 8 screens, and has now made HK$4.03 million after 18 days. The Muai Thai action flick Chocolate earned a similar gross back in April, except this one didn’t have the crazy stunts to pull audiences in.

According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (and I have no idea what the blogger’s source is), even the bogus one-week run of Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin made some money, despite the fact that no one could buy ticket to it. On that one screen playing “five shows” on Sunday, the supernatural period film reportedly made HK$15,435, which averages only a 60% capacity for each show. So why does the theater report that the film is sold out? Did anyone actually manage to get into a showing of this?

-At the Japanese box office this weekend, Iron Man topped the audience attendence chart, bumping Wanted to 2nd place after its one week at the top. Paco and the Magical Book stays up at 3rd place, while Departures is the success story with its hold at 4th place. The high-concept film Ikigami could only get a 6th place opening, while the Richard Gere romance flick Nights in Rodanthe could only earn an 8th place day-and-date opening. This is another blow to Warner Bros. after The Dark Knight underperformed at the Japanese box office last month.

- All the primetime private network dramas have wrapped up for the Summer 2008 season in Japan. Here are the top 5 shows, based on season average:

1) Code Blue - 15.6% average
2) Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu - 14.5% average
3) Yasuko to Kenji - 13.0% average
4) Tomorrow - 12.6% average
5) Shibatora - 12.5% average

Note: Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari is not counted because its season actually started in Spring, hence this season is simply a continuation. In fact, it’s not even over yet.

All drama synosis can be found at Tokyograph.

- Under “film festivals in Asia” news today, the Bangkok International Film Festival has given its top prize to the Colombian film PVC-1. Meanwhile, the Filipino film Serbis won the top prize in the Southeast Asian film section. While the festival was well-attended (it actually doesn’t end until tomorrow with the premiere of Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase’s latest), their first attempt at an entertainment market wasn’t. Better luck next year.

Meanwhile, Variety’s Derek Elley writes about surviving North Korea’s Pyongyong Film Festival, despite the sensitive North Korean government and its strict rules toward foreign journalists.

- Akira Kurosawa’s classic film The Seven Samurai is going to the stage, and this is the man that will play the Toshio Mifune role. Apparently, since it’s based on an anime that’s based on the film, I guess it’s OK.

- Variety’s Joe Leydon has a review of the documentary The Real Shaolin, which follows four martial arts student who travel to the real Shaolin temple in China to learn kung-fu.

The Golden Rock - September 28th, 2008 Edition

I don’t try to pretend that I know everything about every Asian country’s film industry. One of the industries that I don’t know so much about is Thailand’s, which is why I’ve added a new blog to the blogroll to fill the void. Wisekwai’s Thai Film Journal is an oft-updated blog that has excellent information about that Thai film industry that often doesn’t get reported here, mostly because of a lack of knowledge on my part. This is one of resources that I will be linking more to the future, but for the most comprehensive English-language resources on the Thai film industry, this is a blog worth checking out daily.

- Five films entered Hong Kong box office charts on Thursday opening day, with four of them major wide releases. Connected, director Benny Chan’s Hong Kong remake of the Hollywood film Cellular, opened on top with HK$546,000 from 40 screens, and should easily pass the HK$3 million mark by the end of the weekend. Depending on word-of-mouth, the action thriller should end up with over HK$10 million, and may even have a chance at matching Invisible Target’s HK$13 million+ take. It’ll make all its money back in China anyway.

The Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys opened on 32 screens with less showings because of its 142-minute running (but saw a ticket price inflation to make up for it. It ended up making HK$371,000, and saw a lower per-screen average than Connected. It might hit the HK$2 million mark by the end of the weekend, and it definitely won’t do as well as the Death Note films, which were also produced by NTV in Japan. Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye didn’t do that well, either, with only HK$360,000 from 38 screens on opening day.

Quite appropriately named is The Disaster Movie. With a gross of HK$90,000 from 21 screens, the result is no less than a disaster. Not doing so well either is the Korean blockbuster thriller The Chaser, which made just HK$16,000 from 5 screens on opening day. More on Monday when the weekend numbers are out.

- The Chinese film industry continues to expand this year, with Chinese films’ grosses for the first eight months of the year up 31% from the same time period last year. The shocker: Kung Fu Dunk is one of the three films that make up 40% of the total gross for local films. I guess word-of-mouth doesn’t have as big of an effect as one might think.

- Under “Bangkok International Film Festival” news today, Wise Kwai looks at the festival so far, including why head juror Eric Khoo had to leave the festival early. Meanwhile, Brian over at Asian Cinema - While on the Road has short reviews of the films he’s seen so far.

- Also, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Festival has just unveiled two new non-competition sections, which will bring high-profile films such as Clint Eastwood’s latest Changeling and Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It to the festival in November. If time allows, The Golden Rock will once again live-blog the awards as it’s playing on TV come December 6th.

- It’s reviews time! Japan Time’s Mark Schilling gives a rave for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, which I’ll be watching at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. On the other hand, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa doesn’t seem to like “the pregnant 11-year old movie” Kodomo no Kodomo so much.

- Grady Hendrix at Kaiju Shakedown rounds up all the wacky happenings in the world of Asian cinema this week.

- EEG has finally jumped on damage control over the delay of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident, which is said to feature Jackie Chan in his first purely dramatic role. The film was supposed to be released this month, but rumors have been going around that China’s censorship authority is keeping the film in limbo, resulting in its delay. Instead, EEG says that it’s still in post-production and won’t be ready until the first quarter of 2009. I expect them to push this out for Lunar New Year, a popular time slot for Jackie Chan films. At least in Hong Kong.

- Chinese 5th Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang slightly bored me with his last film The Go Master. Now, he’s upping the good-looking people factor for the guys by casting Maggie Q for his new period action film. Didn’t he learn anything from watching Three Kingdoms?

- Nippon Cinema is back with the full-length trailer for Swing Girls director Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest film Happy Flight. I trust the actual film to be better than the trailer.

This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at long-running reality shows departing the airwaves on Japanese TV.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (who got their information from today’s Oriental Daily - not always the most trustworthy source of news), Emperor Motion Pictures may be asking Louis Koo, Barbie Hsu, and director Benny Chan to reunite for a romantic comedy after the success of Connected. Maybe she’ll be less annoying in a romantic comedy lead than as a damsel in distress.

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 21st, 2008 Edition

Since I took the weekend off, this is an extra-packed edition of The Golden Rock

- The big news this weekend is the announcement of the new Green Hornet movie. Sony Pictures, who co-produced Kung Fu Hustle and CJ7, has signed Stephen Chow to star in the film along with Seth Rogen. He will also make his English-language directorial debut with the film, which now has a release date of June 25th, 2010. Supposedly, this will come after Chow finishes up Kung Fu Hustle 2, a news that just came out of nowhere for this blogger.

- Back to the usual box office news. The critically acclaimed Japanese drama Departures opened last weekend at 5th place in the attendance charts, but both the positive reviews and holiday weekend opening date helped it scored a surprisingly high opening. On 220 screens, the dramedy made 348 million yen over the 3-day weekend. Even though the distributor expected it to appeal to an older audience, the demographic was wider than expected. With the surprising opening, Shochiku has now adjusted their expected gross of 2 billion yen to 3 billion yen.

-Despite the usual netizen complaints, The Mummy 3 has now passed the 100 million yuan mark at the Chinese box office after only 2 weeks. Of course, Variety points out that it’s still no Red Cliff.

- It’s reviews time! From Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is the review for the controversial and potentially disturbing Kodomo no Kodomo. Fortunately he says it’s not all that disturbing. From the Daily Yomiuri’s Christph Mark is a review for Takeshi Kitano’s Achilles and the Tortoise.

- CNN recently compiled a list of the best Asian films, which not only included classics such as Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru and King Hu’s  A Touch of Zen, but also recent films such as The Host, In the Mood for Love, and (somewhat head-scratching) Infernal Affairs.

- Under “Asian film festivals” news today, the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival has announced its extensive list of 75 films, which will include the Taiwanese hit Cape no.7, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour, the omnibus film Tokyo!, Herman Yau’s True Women for Sale, and Ivy Ho’s Clustrophobia. Needless to say, I’m going to quite a few of them.

As previously mentioned, the Tokyo International Film Festival also announced its lineup. In addition to closing film Wall-E, it will also feature Clustrophobia (Asian premiere) and 3 other premieres. Astonishingly, the programmers also decided to include the Korean commercial blockbuster/cheesy nightmare D-War in the lineup as well.

With only a few days to go, organizers at the Bangkok International Film Festival decided to pull Junji Sakamoto’s Children of the Dark from its lineup after sponsors argued the film “does not fit in Thai society”, even though it was a co-production between a Japanese and a Thai production company.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the latest NHK daily morning drama. The timeslot has been going through a gradual descent in the ratings, and NHK has brought back the stars of the highest-rated morning drama in the last 11 years in a hope for a repeat.

-  Han Cinema has a feature on award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon, whose first post-Cannes film was released in Korean theatres over the weekend.

- Shiina Ringo (or her record company) just keep on celebrating her 10th year with EMI: A set of her remastered albums, as well as extra goodies, will be released in November after releasing a set of B-sides and concert DVD earlier in the year. My wallet is already screaming out in pain.

-  The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on Japanese singer-lyricist-composer Suga Shikao, whose new album was recently released.

- Lastly, we are sad to announce the sudden death of Japanese director Jun Ichkawa, who was the first director to take on Haruki Murakami for the big screen with Tony Takitani. He was 59. Copyright © 2002-2024 Ross Chen