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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The Golden Rock - September 3rd, 2007 Edition

- We have a tradition of starting each post with number crunching. But now that the box office reports have moved on to their own posts, we’ll start with Japanese drama ratings instead. In a rebound from disappointing weeks, the idol drama Hana Zakari no Kimi Tachi He have gone up to its season-high 18.2 rating in its 9th week. The Monday 9 pm Fuji drama First Kiss is not quite back up to its premiere rating, but still seeing a small rebound, going up to a 14.6 from last week’s 12.8 rating. The other idol drama, Yamada Taro Monogatari, also sees an increase from last week’s 13.6 to this week’s 14.6 for its 8th episode.

In outside-primetime category, the Saturday 11 pm Fuji high school bully drama Life also saw a season-high of 14.2 for its 9th week, and the Friday 11 pm TV Asahi drama Sushi Ouji (which you may remember also has a film version on the way) is climbing back up with an 8.1 rating, close to its season-high.

In “someone asked me to follow it” category, Yama Onna Kabe Onna (how many episodes can they go with a drama about breasts?) is just there, with this week’s ratings following the current season average of 12.2.

All drama information and description can be seen at Tokyograph.

I was going to try something new with Hong Kong ratings for biggest broadcaster TVB, but that would just seem lazy (without the ATV rating, that is). So consider it forgotten.

- As mentioned yesterday, the Japanese drama adaptation Hero is expected to be the big thing this year, surpassing Dororo as the highest-grossing Japanese film of the year and also surpassing Fuji’s own Monkey Magic (also a drama adaptation) to be the widest release for a Japanese film (or only widest live-action? Anyone?). Knowing that everyone in Asia has probably already bought bootlegs or downloaded the drama, Hero will also get a fairly wide Asia release in October, including the widest release for a Japanese film in South Korea.

- This news is kind of a spoiler on its own, but the Hong Kong-based distributor for Jet Li’s latest Hollywood flick War (or known as Rouge Assassin in Hong Kong) says he intends to submit the film to Chinese censors, and he expects them to let it in with a few cuts too. Yeah, good luck there.

- Speaking of those damn Chinese censors, blacklisted Chinese filmmaker Jiang Wen is back with The Sun Also Rises. Not only does Variety Asia have a general feature about the film, it also has a whole article about it not having anything to do with Hemingway.

- The Seiun Awards for Japanese science fiction writers was announced. The most curious winners were “Japan Sinks, Part 2″ (How much more of Japan was left to sink at the end of that movie?) and the media award going to Toki wo Kakeru Shojo - better known as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

- Honestly, I’m not surprised: Ang Lee says that filming the explicit sex scenes in his latest Lust, Caution left him nearly close to nervous breakdown. Reportedly, these scenes were filmed over an 11-day period in a close set with only a few crew members.

- Despite the recent global credit problems, experts believe that media financing will not be badly affected. Sorry, I posted this to assure myself that I will have a future in the business.

The Golden Rock - September 3rd, 2007 Edition

- We have a tradition of starting each post with number crunching. But now that the box office reports have moved on to their own posts, we’ll start with Japanese drama ratings instead. In a rebound from disappointing weeks, the idol drama Hana Zakari no Kimi Tachi He have gone up to its season-high 18.2 rating in its 9th week. The Monday 9 pm Fuji drama First Kiss is not quite back up to its premiere rating, but still seeing a small rebound, going up to a 14.6 from last week’s 12.8 rating. The other idol drama, Yamada Taro Monogatari, also sees an increase from last week’s 13.6 to this week’s 14.6 for its 8th episode.

In outside-primetime category, the Saturday 11 pm Fuji high school bully drama Life also saw a season-high of 14.2 for its 9th week, and the Friday 11 pm TV Asahi drama Sushi Ouji (which you may remember also has a film version on the way) is climbing back up with an 8.1 rating, close to its season-high.

In “someone asked me to follow it” category, Yama Onna Kabe Onna (how many episodes can they go with a drama about breasts?) is just there, with this week’s ratings following the current season average of 12.2.

All drama information and description can be seen at Tokyograph.

I was going to try something new with Hong Kong ratings for biggest broadcaster TVB, but that would just seem lazy (without the ATV rating, that is). So consider it forgotten.

- As mentioned yesterday, the Japanese drama adaptation Hero is expected to be the big thing this year, surpassing Dororo as the highest-grossing Japanese film of the year and also surpassing Fuji’s own Monkey Magic (also a drama adaptation) to be the widest release for a Japanese film (or only widest live-action? Anyone?). Knowing that everyone in Asia has probably already bought bootlegs or downloaded the drama, Hero will also get a fairly wide Asia release in October, including the widest release for a Japanese film in South Korea.

- This news is kind of a spoiler on its own, but the Hong Kong-based distributor for Jet Li’s latest Hollywood flick War (or known as Rouge Assassin in Hong Kong) says he intends to submit the film to Chinese censors, and he expects them to let it in with a few cuts too. Yeah, good luck there.

- Speaking of those damn Chinese censors, blacklisted Chinese filmmaker Jiang Wen is back with The Sun Also Rises. Not only does Variety Asia have a general feature about the film, it also has a whole article about it not having anything to do with Hemingway.

- The Seiun Awards for Japanese science fiction writers was announced. The most curious winners were “Japan Sinks, Part 2″ (How much more of Japan was left to sink at the end of that movie?) and the media award going to Toki wo Kakeru Shojo - better known as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

- Honestly, I’m not surprised: Ang Lee says that filming the explicit sex scenes in his latest Lust, Caution left him nearly close to nervous breakdown. Reportedly, these scenes were filmed over an 11-day period in a close set with only a few crew members.

- Despite the recent global credit problems, experts believe that media financing will not be badly affected. Sorry, I posted this to assure myself that I will have a future in the business.

The Golden Rock - July 25th, 2007 Edition

- Starting with those Oricon charts, both the singles and album charts saw very good sales this past week. On the singles side, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest (which features a short film co-starring Hong Kong actor Shawn Yu in the more expensive version) scored a huge debut, selling 110,000 copies for an easy first place finish. This is Hamasaki’s 9th consecutive year of having a number 1 single, which ties the record set by Akina Nakamori throughout the 1980s. Actually, in the rest of the top 10, there’s only one single that’s not new on the chart, and that is Erika (as in Sawajiri)’s debut single, which sold another 18,800 copies in its third week. A little unlucky on the charts this week are Porno Graffiti and Orange Range, whose latest both hit chart-topping numbers (90,000 and 64,000 copies, respectively), but ended up at 2nd and 3rd place instead. In fact, looking at the daily charts, next week’s predicted winner Morning Musume isn’t even likely to sell more than 80,000 copies of their latest, although Ai Otsuka is following close behind to fight for that top spot.

- In the equally busy albums chart, another Johnny’s Jimusho group KinKi Kids wins the top spot, selling 301,000 copies of their latest album. Far far behind is American band Sum 41 (holy shit, they’re still around?), who sold 62,000 copies of their latest album a week ahead of the American release. Amazingly, hip-rock band (that’s a made-up genre by yours truly) Greeeen’s debut album continues to hang on at 3rd place, while Namie Amuro’s latest (which, in a shameless plug, I reviewed recently) also remains consistent at 4th place. According to the daily charts, the two Orange Range compilations is expected to win the upcoming week, with Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik’s latest album right behind them.

- I don’t mean to trash the Japanese blockbuster film Monkey Magic so consistently, but bad news just keeps coming in one after another, so I can’t help but report it. According to this blog post linked by Eiga Consultant, Monkey Magic suffered a huge loss not only due to the arrival of Harry Potter, but also because the film has earned horrible word-of-mouth, with comments like “childish” and “unnecessary” being thrown around on the internet. Also, the excessive television appearances by star Shingo Katori has led audiences to be fed up with his attempt to promote the film. With a budget of 3 billion yen (mostly spent on advertising and CGI), no wonder Fuji TV needs a 5.9 billion yen gross.

By the way, I’m going on this by my barely-intermediate Japanese knowledge, so feel free to correct me.

- Speaking of mis-reporting, there are reasons why I don’t look at Mainland Chinese websites for movie news. First, I don’t read simplified Chinese (at least not good enough to translate), and second, I have a personal vendetta against one particular English site (coughcrienglishcough). Now a case of misreporting rumors has been added to that list of reason. According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao’s entertainment columnist, who is possibly screenwriter Chan Hing-Ka, a rumor from a Mainland China website reported that Ken Watanabe and Hideaki Takizawa has joined the cast of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. The rumor was spread quickly, prompting Yee to come out and denied it. Excerpt from the Chinese article translated here:

娛樂圈這一行很敏感,演員如看到報道指某部電影打算找某位演員主演,後來自己又被邀請,很易聯想到自己是「執二攤」,即有其他演員在自己之前推掉角色,所以才輪到自己。

經理人公司特別在乎這方面的報道,別以為日本經理人公司不會留意中、港、台新聞,他們是很清楚的,只要一有相關報道出來,他們會立即四出查證。

The entertainment industry is a very sensitive one. If an actor reads a report about a film casting another actor, only to see him/herself also invited afterwards, then they might see themselves as “scraps.” That means he/she only got invited to join a film because another actor turned it down.

Managers/agents show special care into these kind of reports. Don’t think that Japanese agencies don’t look at Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese news; they are actually quite clear on it, and once such report comes out, they would immediately verify it.

試過有一位本地導演太早公布了與某日本演員合作的事,報道一出,其經理人公司當日就有電話打來查詢,那時互聯網還沒有現在般流行。

Once, a local director reported collaborating with a Japanese actor too early. Once the report came out, the actor’s agency called to verify on the same, and the internet wasn’t even as popular at the time as it is today.

某些傳媒在未經查證之下,會把網上的傳聞照搬過來,其實有時只需打一、兩個電話就可以求證,偏偏就不去做,假消息愈傳愈開,給當事人造成的困擾和傷害也愈來愈大。

Some media would post certain rumors without verification. Sometimes, a call or two can verify the news, but they don’t do it anyway. As the fake news spread gradually farther, it would concurrently cause more and more harm to those involved.

Of course, this isn’t the only fake report spreading around these days. After reports of Stephen Chow signing on to play Kato in the Green Hornet, Chow’s management came out the next day to deny it, even though the original post only says the film’s writer would LIKE to Chow for the role.

Don’t worry, The Golden Rock always strive to report the most accurate and verified news on Asian entertainment with the most bias a hypocrite like me can give out. Why do you think it takes me 2 hours a day to write an entry? Nevertheless, corrections to any possibly misreported stories are welcomed.

- Shinji Aoyama’s latest Sad Vacation is going to Venice. However, it will not be in competition, but in the Orizzonti sidebar section instead.

- Those in Hong Kong take note: Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets is having sneak previews this coming weekend. Just get your tickets early, they’re getting snapped up fast. Oh, and Jay Chou will be at two of those shows on Sunday, which seem to be sold out by now anyway (that would be the seating charts filled with red you see in the post).

- Joel Schumacher, who has been blamed for single-handedly screwing up the Batman franchise once upon a time, is in talks to direct the remake of Johnnie To’s action flick Breaking News. I enjoyed Tigerland and Phone Booth (another thriller set in limited space and time compression), so this might turn out OK.

- Malaysian major bookstore chains, in protest of grocery superstore slashing book prices, boycotted the latest Harry Potter book. Of course, the bookstores have ended the ban because the “customers are the ones would suffer.” 1) Can’t they just go to the grocery superstores to buy the book at a lower price anyway? and 2) Am I the only who find an irony in huge bookstore chains protesting cheaper book prices when these chains were once responsible for putting mom-and-pop bookstores out of business with their lower prices?

- The nominees for the Seoul Television Festival is out, and one drama’s nomination seems a little absurd to me. The Japanese comic adaptation-Taiwanese drama Hanazakarino Kimitachihe, which is seeing its own Japanese adaption on TV right now, was apparently nominated because the judges thought the drama’s style was fresh, which is weird considering it’s an adaption of established work. Then again, I’m just picky against idol dramas.

- Speaking of bad TV dramas, Japan’s own foreigners’ rights crusader Arudou Debito is up in arms about a clip from the popular drama Hana Yori Dango 2, in which the only African American presence in the show happen to come in the form of only criminals. While I’m not as angry as he is (American dramas do the same to minorities - remember the first episode of Heroes?), this only goes to show that bad TV is universal. And this was the top-rated/top satisfaction/most illegally-downloaded drama of that season, people.

- This is the perfect follow-up. NHK is planning a three-part drama special about an international romance that blossoms between a Korean man and a Japanese woman. Um…they already did this a few years ago, guys. I know, I saw it. It wasn’t that good.

- Before everyone else, namely Hollywood, blames China for selling all this pirated movies, China would like to let you know that the technology came from everyone else! Yes, we knew that China is not exactly the most technologically innovative country in the world.

- From the Japanese trailer blog comes a trailer for the film Grow (Guro), about a high school boy who runs into three ghostly mentors before his death and learns to…well, grow.

- If anyone out there thought those “Hong Kong handover commemoration films” were a good idea, get ready for “2008 Chinese Olympic commemoration films!” According to this blog post, the first one up is “The Romance of the Pheonix,” starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Clifton Ko. I’ll probably be watching this anyway just because I’m a completist.

- Right on time for the 60th anniversary of its independence, there will be a 6-day long showcase of Indian culture in LA come mid-August. The focus is said to be on Indian cinema, which means I’m sure there will be some awesome dancing involved.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review of Takeshii Miike’s latest theatrical release from a few months ago - the video game adaptation Ryu Ga Gotoku, better known in the states as just Yakuza.

- Lastly, but certainly not last, German actor Ulrich Muehe, who starred as a conflicted agent for the East Germany secret police in the brilliant The Lives of Others, has passed away at the age of 54.

The Golden Rock - July 25th, 2007 Edition

- Starting with those Oricon charts, both the singles and album charts saw very good sales this past week. On the singles side, Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest (which features a short film co-starring Hong Kong actor Shawn Yu in the more expensive version) scored a huge debut, selling 110,000 copies for an easy first place finish. This is Hamasaki’s 9th consecutive year of having a number 1 single, which ties the record set by Akina Nakamori throughout the 1980s. Actually, in the rest of the top 10, there’s only one single that’s not new on the chart, and that is Erika (as in Sawajiri)’s debut single, which sold another 18,800 copies in its third week. A little unlucky on the charts this week are Porno Graffiti and Orange Range, whose latest both hit chart-topping numbers (90,000 and 64,000 copies, respectively), but ended up at 2nd and 3rd place instead. In fact, looking at the daily charts, next week’s predicted winner Morning Musume isn’t even likely to sell more than 80,000 copies of their latest, although Ai Otsuka is following close behind to fight for that top spot.

- In the equally busy albums chart, another Johnny’s Jimusho group KinKi Kids wins the top spot, selling 301,000 copies of their latest album. Far far behind is American band Sum 41 (holy shit, they’re still around?), who sold 62,000 copies of their latest album a week ahead of the American release. Amazingly, hip-rock band (that’s a made-up genre by yours truly) Greeeen’s debut album continues to hang on at 3rd place, while Namie Amuro’s latest (which, in a shameless plug, I reviewed recently) also remains consistent at 4th place. According to the daily charts, the two Orange Range compilations is expected to win the upcoming week, with Canadian-Japanese band Monkey Majik’s latest album right behind them.

- I don’t mean to trash the Japanese blockbuster film Monkey Magic so consistently, but bad news just keeps coming in one after another, so I can’t help but report it. According to this blog post linked by Eiga Consultant, Monkey Magic suffered a huge loss not only due to the arrival of Harry Potter, but also because the film has earned horrible word-of-mouth, with comments like “childish” and “unnecessary” being thrown around on the internet. Also, the excessive television appearances by star Shingo Katori has led audiences to be fed up with his attempt to promote the film. With a budget of 3 billion yen (mostly spent on advertising and CGI), no wonder Fuji TV needs a 5.9 billion yen gross.

By the way, I’m going on this by my barely-intermediate Japanese knowledge, so feel free to correct me.

- Speaking of mis-reporting, there are reasons why I don’t look at Mainland Chinese websites for movie news. First, I don’t read simplified Chinese (at least not good enough to translate), and second, I have a personal vendetta against one particular English site (coughcrienglishcough). Now a case of misreporting rumors has been added to that list of reason. According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao’s entertainment columnist, who is possibly screenwriter Chan Hing-Ka, a rumor from a Mainland China website reported that Ken Watanabe and Hideaki Takizawa has joined the cast of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. The rumor was spread quickly, prompting Yee to come out and denied it. Excerpt from the Chinese article translated here:

娛樂圈這一行很敏感,演員如看到報道指某部電影打算找某位演員主演,後來自己又被邀請,很易聯想到自己是「執二攤」,即有其他演員在自己之前推掉角色,所以才輪到自己。

經理人公司特別在乎這方面的報道,別以為日本經理人公司不會留意中、港、台新聞,他們是很清楚的,只要一有相關報道出來,他們會立即四出查證。

The entertainment industry is a very sensitive one. If an actor reads a report about a film casting another actor, only to see him/herself also invited afterwards, then they might see themselves as “scraps.” That means he/she only got invited to join a film because another actor turned it down.

Managers/agents show special care into these kind of reports. Don’t think that Japanese agencies don’t look at Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese news; they are actually quite clear on it, and once such report comes out, they would immediately verify it.

試過有一位本地導演太早公布了與某日本演員合作的事,報道一出,其經理人公司當日就有電話打來查詢,那時互聯網還沒有現在般流行。

Once, a local director reported collaborating with a Japanese actor too early. Once the report came out, the actor’s agency called to verify on the same, and the internet wasn’t even as popular at the time as it is today.

某些傳媒在未經查證之下,會把網上的傳聞照搬過來,其實有時只需打一、兩個電話就可以求證,偏偏就不去做,假消息愈傳愈開,給當事人造成的困擾和傷害也愈來愈大。

Some media would post certain rumors without verification. Sometimes, a call or two can verify the news, but they don’t do it anyway. As the fake news spread gradually farther, it would concurrently cause more and more harm to those involved.

Of course, this isn’t the only fake report spreading around these days. After reports of Stephen Chow signing on to play Kato in the Green Hornet, Chow’s management came out the next day to deny it, even though the original post only says the film’s writer would LIKE to Chow for the role.

Don’t worry, The Golden Rock always strive to report the most accurate and verified news on Asian entertainment with the most bias a hypocrite like me can give out. Why do you think it takes me 2 hours a day to write an entry? Nevertheless, corrections to any possibly misreported stories are welcomed.

- Shinji Aoyama’s latest Sad Vacation is going to Venice. However, it will not be in competition, but in the Orizzonti sidebar section instead.

- Those in Hong Kong take note: Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets is having sneak previews this coming weekend. Just get your tickets early, they’re getting snapped up fast. Oh, and Jay Chou will be at two of those shows on Sunday, which seem to be sold out by now anyway (that would be the seating charts filled with red you see in the post).

- Joel Schumacher, who has been blamed for single-handedly screwing up the Batman franchise once upon a time, is in talks to direct the remake of Johnnie To’s action flick Breaking News. I enjoyed Tigerland and Phone Booth (another thriller set in limited space and time compression), so this might turn out OK.

- Malaysian major bookstore chains, in protest of grocery superstore slashing book prices, boycotted the latest Harry Potter book. Of course, the bookstores have ended the ban because the “customers are the ones would suffer.” 1) Can’t they just go to the grocery superstores to buy the book at a lower price anyway? and 2) Am I the only who find an irony in huge bookstore chains protesting cheaper book prices when these chains were once responsible for putting mom-and-pop bookstores out of business with their lower prices?

- The nominees for the Seoul Television Festival is out, and one drama’s nomination seems a little absurd to me. The Japanese comic adaptation-Taiwanese drama Hanazakarino Kimitachihe, which is seeing its own Japanese adaption on TV right now, was apparently nominated because the judges thought the drama’s style was fresh, which is weird considering it’s an adaption of established work. Then again, I’m just picky against idol dramas.

- Speaking of bad TV dramas, Japan’s own foreigners’ rights crusader Arudou Debito is up in arms about a clip from the popular drama Hana Yori Dango 2, in which the only African American presence in the show happen to come in the form of only criminals. While I’m not as angry as he is (American dramas do the same to minorities - remember the first episode of Heroes?), this only goes to show that bad TV is universal. And this was the top-rated/top satisfaction/most illegally-downloaded drama of that season, people.

- This is the perfect follow-up. NHK is planning a three-part drama special about an international romance that blossoms between a Korean man and a Japanese woman. Um…they already did this a few years ago, guys. I know, I saw it. It wasn’t that good.

- Before everyone else, namely Hollywood, blames China for selling all this pirated movies, China would like to let you know that the technology came from everyone else! Yes, we knew that China is not exactly the most technologically innovative country in the world.

- From the Japanese trailer blog comes a trailer for the film Grow (Guro), about a high school boy who runs into three ghostly mentors before his death and learns to…well, grow.

- If anyone out there thought those “Hong Kong handover commemoration films” were a good idea, get ready for “2008 Chinese Olympic commemoration films!” According to this blog post, the first one up is “The Romance of the Pheonix,” starring Aaron Kwok and directed by Clifton Ko. I’ll probably be watching this anyway just because I’m a completist.

- Right on time for the 60th anniversary of its independence, there will be a 6-day long showcase of Indian culture in LA come mid-August. The focus is said to be on Indian cinema, which means I’m sure there will be some awesome dancing involved.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review of Takeshii Miike’s latest theatrical release from a few months ago - the video game adaptation Ryu Ga Gotoku, better known in the states as just Yakuza.

- Lastly, but certainly not last, German actor Ulrich Muehe, who starred as a conflicted agent for the East Germany secret police in the brilliant The Lives of Others, has passed away at the age of 54.

A Case of the Monday part 3

I hate to rely on sources for news, but that’s what happens when you have limited resources. This means when mov3.com doesn’t update their Sunday numbers on Monday HK time, I’m stuck Monday afternoon with no numbers to report.

- But good thing Box Office Mojo came through with their Japan numbers, which isn’t particularly hard, since they only have the top 6. Rest assured, you’re not missing much. The rankings stayed roughly the same, as all the films enjoyed only very small drops. Happy Feet actually gained more audience to beat The Holiday in the attendance rankings, but, as it is the case with kids films, it brought in less money than The Holiday because kids tickets are quite a bit cheaper than adult tickets. Such is life.

- Meanwhile, The Host enjoyed a healthy 4th week at the American box office, as Magnolia expanded the film again by another 22 screens for a small 4.8% increase in grosses. Of course, that means per-screen average has gone down to a not-very-good $2,437 (down $400 from last week), but at least it’s hanging in there.

- During Filmart last week (with the deal finalized a week later, as in yesterday), Sponge, a small Korean distributor that specializes in importing small foreign films, acquired the Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse in its biggest deal ever. No word, however, on whether Sponge will split the two films up (as it was announced to be done for the international market) or release both films together.

- At the risk further damaging my credibility, I’ll admit that I’ve never seen a Kim Ki-duk film. I’ve read about quite a few, and I’ve been turned off enough by fish hooks and plastic surgeries to stay away from them. Nevertheless, I have followed his career, including his public denouncement of Korean media and Korean cinema. I guess he must’ve taken it back, because he has yet another new film coming that he shot in just under two weeks. Wow.

- China isn’t the only place in Asia with strict censorship. India has banned Fashion channel FTV for two months for indecency. This isn’t the first time, as AXN, Asian’s answer to Spike TV, was also banned for two months. Man, wait ’til they watch American TV, there’s plenty to ban there.

- When you have a soon-to-be-defunct TV tower and a huge Hollywood blockbuster to promote, what do you do? Nagoya has found the answer.

- I’m looking more and more to Yau Nai-Hoi’s Eye in the Sky. Why? Because of that review from LoveHKFilm that I just linked to and this review.

- But you can quench your thirst with teasers today - one for Eye in the Sky, and the other for Feng Xiaogang’s latest The Assembly.

- While I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore (I’m about halfway through, thanks to my newfound discovery of the ability to read at the gym), I just found another book with a killer concept: A real-life Yakuza princess. Unlike Nakama Yukie, I don’t think she’d make much of a high school teacher.

Another short entry today, but can’t help it if the news world is quiet as usual.

Nippon Wednesday

After posting up all those news yesterday, there’s not much left for today. In fact, it’s mostly Japan news.

- I reported about the opening week result of Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo’s latest “Bugmaster” yesterday, along with a Hoga Central report. Now Eiga Consultant helps and puts it all in perspective. On its opening day on Saturday, “Bugmaster” made 95 million yen - that’s 44% of Shinobi (Joe Odagiri’s hit film from 2005 that ended up making 1.4 billion yen), and 61% of director Otomo’s previous film Steamboy, which ended up making 1.16 billion yen. Looks like not even Joe Odagiri, Yu Aoi, nor the creator of Akira could get fans of the original comic to show up for a movie about bugs.

- Jason Gray also has some tidbits from the Japanese film industry, including the fate of that Genghis Khan movie (that effectively proved you can’t just shove anything down Japanese audiences’ throats), and what one Japanese actress thought of the latest Rocky movie.

- After Takeshi Miike’s latest “Ryu Ga Gotoku” just came and went in theatres, he’s already hard at work on another relatively high-profile film. Twitch provides us today with a link to the teaser for “Sukiyaki Western Django.” It looks like crazy western fun, but I’m not a huge fan of Miike, even though he can be as crazy as it gets, so we’ll see what happens when it opens in September.

- Speaking of Japanese films, Lovehkfilm updates with a review of Japanese blockbuster (but Hong Kong flop) Dororo. Also up is a review of the latest Milkyway film, Eye in the Sky, which opened the Hong Kong International Film Festival this year. It also have some reviews from your truly, but I’ll just let it go.

- It was just announced last week, but Hayao Miyasaki’s latest “Ponyo on the Cliff” already has a progress report, thanks to the people of Twitch, Ghibli World. and NHK.

- Remember that I reported that the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan suspended NTV’s membership after the natto scandal? Well, now they just decided to just kick them out of the damn organization altogether. Ouch.

- Oh, and Haruki Murakami’s anthology “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” which includes the original short story of Tony Takitani (great film, by the way), just won a Kiriyama Prize. Yay.

I told you there’s not that much news today. See you tomorrow.

A Case of the Monday part 2

Some surprises out there, but still a slow news day. Of course, it’ll still take me forever to write.

- Hong Kong Sunday numbers are surprisingly even. Over the years I’ve been tracking the box office, it’s not very often that I see the top 10 all in at least those 6 figures, but it seems like there was enough diversity in the box office to warrant a healthy take for everyone.

As expected, Ghost Rider takes in an average $990,000 on Sunday for a HK$3.47 million total after 4 days for the number 1 spot. The filmgoing bourgeois showed up for the second weekend of The Queen, commanding HK$350,000 on 14 screens in a far second. It now has a HK$3.27 million total after 11 days. The Lady Iron Chef gain quite a bit from its spectacular failure on Thursday (although it might’ve been just previews) with a HK$280,000 on 26 screens, which is around the amount the last Wong Jing produced film, the spectacularly dumb stinker Kung Fu Mahjong 3, did. With HK$770,000 as its 4-day total, don’t expect it to go far past HK$3 million.

Super-duper blockbuster 300 had its preview showings over the weekend (2 shows a night), and it earned HK$190,000 on 31 screens for a HK$640,000 total after 6 shows. Its official opening comes this weekend, and by the hype from its success in America and perhaps good word-of-mouth, 300 could go far. Japanese blockbuster tearjerker Tears For You earns a better-than-Midnight-Sun gross of HK$110,000 on 9 screens for a HK$420,000 total and probably won’t make it to the $1 million mark. Dreamgirls and Letters From Iwo Jima holds on to their limited release success with HK$140,000 on 10 screens and HK$120,000 on 5 screens, respectively.

- The South Korean box office is also out, and after the boost February gave to local films, March seems to signal a bit of a slowdown. Anyway, Korea Pop Wars have their usual analysis.

- Japanese movie rankings are out as well, and personal favorite (I seem to report on those a lot, don’t I?) and my childhood idol that is not named Aaron Kwok Doraemon’s new movie is in first place. Heartwarming baseball film Battery debuts in second with a strong 185 million yen opening (analysis by Hoga News), as the Genghis Khan movie falls to third (but with a gross that’s probably fairly close to its disappointing debut.). Other than that, until I see those percentage changes, it wasn’t a very exciting weekend in Japan.

- More exciting is those Japanese drama ratings, as the ultra-expensive Karei Naru Ichizoku surges for its second-to-last episode with a 24.9 rating, its highest since the premiere (which makes me wonder why do so many extra people tune in to the end of serial drama, when they hadn’t been keeping up). Those popular flowery boys aren’t weak either, but their ratings dropped just a bit for a 21.9 rating. Nakama Yukie’s drama ended with a whimper this week after 9 episodes with a 11.7 rating (although I’m not sure whether it was cut short, or it was just meant to be this short) and an overall 12.7 rating. I think she’s due for another installment of Gokusen for a popularity boost. Lastly, Haken No Hinkaku goes into home stretch with a consistent 19.9 rating this week (same as last week). As mentioned yesterday, the three major dramas are wrapping up this week. Turns out Haken No Hinkaku may be wrapping up next week instead. Either way, it’ll be huge, huge, I tell you!

- Variety Asia has a profile on Toho’s life achievement award-receiving chairman Matsuoka by Mark Schilling (Critic for the Japan Times). Despite being the chairman of Japan’s biggest studio, he still maintains that Hollywood should be dominating the market with a 60% share in Japan. “That way, everybody wins.” Right.

- I’m a fan of Haruki Murakami. Honestly, he’s the only author I consistently read (that is, if I ever decide to read). I haven’t bought his latest short story anthology “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” yet because I’m waiting for the paperback, but now the translation for his latest After Dark is finally arriving. I still have quite a few books to catch up, so maybe I’ll be reading this in 5 years or so.

- Connecting from Lovehkfilm’s Sanjuro’s blog, the big honcho at Lovehkfilm also put up his review of The Pang Brothers’ The Messengers.

- Miss R over at Sardonic Smile has a cool profile of Hong Kong’s hippest MTV director Susie Au, whose latest film MingMing will debut at the Hong Kong International Film Festival this year.

- Variety Asia also has a report on how last year’s Thailand military coup has affected the TV market. Despite reports about how the coup didn’t affect Thailand much (since apparently they get quite a few of these over the years), it sounds more serious than it looks.

- Asian Cinema - While On the Road has a review of the book “Asia Shock,” which I agree I would not read just based on the title alone (I, too, hate the stereotype that Asian films represent some type of carnal or violent extreme). But it seems like the book does pick some good mainstream titles. No, Ichi the Killer is NOT a mainstream film anywhere in the world.

- Variety also has reviews for Shu Qi’s big Korean debut “My Wife is a Gangster 3″ (I wisely stopped watching at 2) and a disappointingly short review for the Japanese horror flick “The Slit-Mouth Woman.” They also have a review for Confession of Pain, but it’s full of spoilers, so forget that.

 
 
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