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Archive for the ‘casting’ Category

The Golden Rock - February 17th, 2009 Edition

- We may just permanently go with the Hong Kong Filmart numbers for the Hong Kong box office. In the last week, Yes Man easily took the top spot in its first 4 days, making HK$4.2 million from 34 screens (including previews). HK$10 million is likely, but not sure if it’ll go much past that. Bryan Singer’s Valkerie couldn’t attract the Valentine’s Day crowd, making HK$2.8 million from 38 screens over 4 days. It’s not bad in terms of day-to-day average, but it’s not likely to get past the HK$7 million mark. It’s better than Lions for Lambs, but Tom Cruise has done far better before.

Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road did fairly well in its 14-screen psuedo-limited release, making HK$1.16 million over 4 days, though I wonder how it’ll do once all those other love movies hit Hong Kong theaters. One of those love movies, Patrick Kong’s Love Connected, did very well during its two days of preview showings over the weekend, making HK$926,000 from 37 screens. Could this be Patrick Kong’s return after two duds?

One romance that didn’t do so well is Ivy Ho’s Claustrophobia. From 12 screens, it made HK$574,000 over 4 days, with it making barely over HK$10,000 per screen each day.

-With the holiday weekend, there’s no Japan numbers up at Box Office Mojo yet, so we’ll have to do with the cinema attendence figure for now. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has ensured its long-run success by overtaking 20th Century Boys II for the top spot in its second weekend. Kankuro Kudo’s Shonen Merikensack had to do with a 3rd place opening with about 214 million yen.  It’s nowhere near the opening of the similar-themed Detroit Metal City, but it is 171% of the opening of another Aoi Miyazaki’s starrer Heavenly Forest. It is now aiming for a 1.5 billion yen take, which has to be somewhat underwhelming after Miyazaki’s very popular drama starring role in NHK’s Atsuhime.

Meanwhile, the Keanu Reeves starrer Street Kings (renamed Fake City in Japan) opened at 9th place, which is fair since it wasn’t a major release anyway.

- Feng Xiaogang, Chen Kaige, Ge You, and even Andy Lau has been recruited for a new film, except they will all be actors this time around. Why such a big cast, you ask? Because it’s the PRC’s 60th anniversary extravaganza!

- Speaking of nationalism, Peter Chan will be joining the director of said extravaganza film to form a production company with Polybona, also known as the “entertainment business arm of the Chinese army”. They plan to make 15 films in the next three years. I hope at least one of them will be Peter Chan’s.

- The insane 4-hour epic that is Sion Sono’s Love Exposure managed to win two awards at the Berlin Film Festival. I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll be at the Hong Kong International Film Festival this year.

- The controversial Japanese film Children in the Dark will finally have a screening in Bangkok when it screens at the Foreign Correspondant Club in Bangkok. The film, about child prostitution in Thailand, was pulled from the Bangkok International Film Festival last year after it was deemed inappropriate.

- Meanwhile, straight from Derek Yee’s mouth is why his new film The Shinjuku Incident won’t be in Chinese cinemas.

- Usually, only Japanese commercial television stations would bring their drama series to the big screen. But now, even NHK is joining the cinema trend, with a spin-off of their successful finance drama Vulture.

- In more TV-related news, Smap’s Masahiro Nakai (the one who always sings off-key) will be starring in his first Fuji TV Monday 9pm slot drama for the first time since 1998. The Fuji Monday 9pm slot is known as the strongest drama timeslot on Japanese TV, although its victory has not been consistent lately because of shows like Innocent Love (Voice is the current Winter 2009 leader, though). Even Monday 9pm staple Kimura Takuya’s Change lost out in average ratings to Gokusen.

-  Sad news: The house that apparently inspired Hayao Miyazaki when he did Totoro has burned down.And another piece of my childhood goes away.

The Golden Rock - February 4th, 2009 Edition

Happy Lunar New Year to everyone. Best new year gift so far: Finding a link to this blog on Professor David Bordwell’s blog.

Sad, sad news coming out of Asia. Due to the worldwide economic downturn, Variety Asia, which this site uses as a major source for news, has been indefinitely suspended after its two top guys - Patrick Frater and Marcus Lim - has been let go. The same goes for Grady Hendrix’s Kaiju Shakedown blog, which served as a great influence on the development of this blog. Hope to see these guys on the internet soon.

- Still using the HK Filmart website numbers this week to see how films did over the entire Lunar New Year holiday week in Hong Kong. Leading the way for the week is All’s Well Ends Well 2009, which made HK$14.1 million over the week for a 10-day total of HK$18.3 million and should hit the HK$25 million mark before its run ends. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which has far less showings and an inflated ticket price, is in 2nd place with HK$9.9 million for a 11-day total of HK$13.9 million. With strong word-of-mouth, this should have no problem making the HK$20 million mark.

However, the Lunar New Year will likely go to Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, which made HK$9 million over the week and has already made HK$21.4 million after 16 days. With this pace, it will current leader Red Cliff II, which made HK$6.4 million over the week and is currently at HK$21.7 million. There’s a chance that it will match the HK$25 million take of part 1, but with more competition this weekend, its chances are slim.

The underperformer of the holiday is Andrew Lau’s Look For a Star. From 35 screens, it made HK$7.3 million from 35 screens over the week and made HK$9.56 million after 9 days. It should hit the HK$15 million mark, but still somewhat disappointing for an Andy Lau starrer. However, the true loser of the holiday week is the Hollywood dog film Marley and Me, which made just HK$4.2 million over the week and HK$6 million after 11 days. This is somewhat surprising since dog films tend to do very well in Hong Kong.

- No Box Office Mojo numbers yet, so we only have the box office admission chart from Japan. As expected, the second chapter of 20th Century Boys opened on top. According to Mr. Texas of Eiga Consultant Blog, it made 620 million yen from 374 screens, which is 99.4% of the opening for chapter 1. Also, a trucated version of chapter 1 (with “new scenes”. I checked, they just filmed a new way to bookend the film and took out scenes. It ran only 114 minutes with commercial) scored a 18.6% rating on TV the night before its opening. With 80.6% of the weekend audience saying that they definitely want to watch the final chapter, NTV, Toho, and the rest of the investors should have no trouble getting their investment back.

Mamma Mia managed to open at 2nd place, which bumped Quantum of Solace and Pandemic all the way down to 3rd and 4th place, respectively.

With all the competition, the 2nd part of Che only managed a 6th place opening after part 1 opened on top 3 weeks ago. More when Box Office Mojo has the numbers.

- Red Cliff II leads for the second weekend in a row in a relatively quiet weekend in Korea. There’s no analysis this week by Mark Russell at Korea Pop War, but I’ll link you over there anyway for the figures.

- The Winter 2009 Japanese drama season continues to see weak ratings across the board, with no drama hitting the 20% rating so far (Aibou doesn’t count because it’s the middle of a 6-month season). However, Kiina may have a chance after losing only a small amount of audience for its second episode, and Mei-Chan no Shitsuji is keeping steady around the 14% mark.

Meanwhile, the Fuji Monday 9pm drama Voice drops further to 15.0% rating for its 3rd episode (we’ll look at this week’s ratings next week. That’s how we roll). Even though Triangle took that deep second episode dive, it’s been staying steady about the 11% mark as well. Arifureta Kiseki took a slight turn upwards with a 11.4% for its latest episode, but Love Shuffle took a dive to a 8.2% rating for its third episode, making it the flop of the season. The Kenichi Matsuyama-starrer Zeni Geba isn’t doing so well either, dropping to a 9% rating for its third episode. Another drama with potential is Rescue, which actually saw an increase in ratings for its second episode.

All Japanese drama sypnosis can be found on Tokyograph, but seriously, who still cares about Japanese dramas?

- KinKi Kids extends their world record of having the largest number of consecutive number 1 single with their latest, which topped the singles chart this week on the Japanese Oricon chart, of course.

Meanwhile, an original album finally takes the top spot this week on the albums chart. Thanks, Koda Kumi!

More over at Tokyograph.

- In Japan, overall 2008 box office dropped by 1.8%, with a 2-yen drop on average ticket price and a staggering 23.9% drop in foreign film box office.  On the other hand, local films’ box office take went up by 22.4%, so it’s all good.

- Box office was also all good in China, where the Lunar New Years holiday box office this year was up by 20% from the same period last year, partly helped by having ten new releases packing theaters. Surprisingly, Andrew Lau’s Look for a Star led the holiday box office along with Ning Hao’s Crazy Racer.

- It’s reviews time!  Variety’s Jay Weissberg looks at the Japanese indie film Non-Ko. It may not be an Asian film, but Push was filmed entirely in Hong Kong, which is enough for me to link to Robert Koehler’s review of it.

-Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has already finished filming his follow-up to Still Walking. This time, the film stars Korean actress Bae Doona as a vinyl doll who comes to have human emotion. Sounds nothing like Still Walking at all.

- Even though Ivy Ho’s directorial debut Claustrophobia (saw it at the Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong and liked it) not opening in Hong Kong until next week, the renowned screenwriter is already getting to shoot her second film, with Jacky Cheung and Tang Wei attached as stars. This time, what I’ve heard is that it’ll be a more commercial effort than Claustrophobia, and it’ll be shot for a fairly low budget.

- Nippon Cinema has the second trailer for Donju, starring Tadanobu Asano and written by Kankuro Kudo.

The Golden Rock - January 20th, 2009 Edition

Yesterday was a slow news day, and with no box office numbers, there was nothing to write. But that all changes today:

- Even though Red Cliff II won the Hong Kong overall weekend box office with HK$9.1 million over the first 4 days from 73 screens, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea could’ve probably won the weekend had it opened on the same day. Opening late on Saturday the 17th, the Studio Ghibli film made HK$5.2 million over two days from 58 screens (only 10 or so of those playing the Japanese version) for an average of HK$2.6 million a day (versus Red Cliff’s HK$2.27 million per day). Overall, Red Cliff II is performing not as well as part 1, which made HK$10.69 million in its first 4 days back in July. However, its upcoming Lunar New Year competition (Look For a Star, All’s Well Ends Well 2009, Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, Bolt) don’t overlap in terms of genre, so it may perform well enough through the extended Lunar New Year holiday to outperform the first film in the long run.

In its 5th week, Ip Man has broken through the HK$25 million mark, though its momentum has been stopped greatly by the two opening films taking up screens. The same goes for the second weekend of Australia (HK$3.89 million after two weekends) and Tactical Unit - The Code (HK$3.64 million after two weekends). Sadly, with now.com doing “maintenance” on their box office stats, and my refusal to take source-less numbers from the Hong Kong Film Blog, this is the best stats we can get for now.

- On the Japanese audience attendence chart, the disaster film Pandemic took the top spot in its opening weekend, finally knocking Wall-E off after 6 weeks at the top. The only other newcomer is Zen, which finally made its way up to the top 10 after being in 7th place last week.

According to Variety, Pandemic made US$3.35 million. According to the current rate on xe.com, that’s roughly 301 million yen. Meanwhile, Quantum of Solace ran sneak preview showings this weekend and earned 270 million yen, according to Eiga Consultant. More when the numbers from Box Office Mojo come out.

- Looks like it’s time to brace for another disappointing season in Japanese drama. The Winter 2008 season had Bara no nai Hanaya in the Monday 9pm Fuji TV slot and had a 22.4% premiere. This year, that time slot also has the highest-rated premiere of the season so far with Voice, but it only earned a 17.7% rating. Other dramas are definitely underperforming, namely Love Shuffle with Hiroshi Tamaki (looking like a skeleton), which saw only a 10% rating for its premiere episode.

Meanwhile, Triangle drops to a 11.1% in its second week, Arifureta Kiseki drops to a 10.9%, Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi is also underperforming in its primetime slot with just 10.9% (some reasoning passed around online points out that its target male audience arrive home in time for its old late night slot, but would not rush home to catch it on prime time), the Kenichi Matsuyama-starring drama Zeni Geba premires with only 12%, and Honjitsu mo Hare, Ijou Nashi premieres with only a 12.4%.

Some dramas are doing well enough so far. Aibou Season 7 kicks off 2009 with a 20.5% rating, Mei-chan no Shitsuji has the second-highest rated premiere of the season with 14.9%, Akai Ito continues to see its boost from the film version with a 10.8% this week, and Wataru Sekan wa Oni Bakari stays consistent with 15.1% this week.

All Japanese drama sypnosis can be found on Tokyograph

- In related drama news, the Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Priz survey has announced its results for the Fall 2008 season. It seems like the Arashi fans showed up and voted Ryusei no Kizuna to win in a landslide for Best Drama, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.

- In India, the Warner Bros-produced comedy Chandni Chowk to China made US$6.8 million in the widest release for an Indian film ever in both India (1,319 screens) and North America (130 screens). It may pass the US$20 million mark, which is apparently the sign of a Bollywood blockbuster.

-  Jero is not the only African-American making it big in Japan. One of the most popular actors in Japanese advertising now is Dante Carver, who saw his rise to fame as Aya Ueto’s older brother and the son of a talking white dog in the popular Softbank commercials (see them here) and is in Japanese theaters this week in Pandemic (he even has a line in the trailer). Now, he will be acting in his first drama in a miniseries for NHK.

-Under “Film Festival” news today, Japanese Oscar contender Departures won the audience award at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Meanwhile, Variety reveals the Asian contenders at the Berlin Film Festival’s Forums section, which will include Dante Lam’s Beast Stalker being included for a special screening at the Forums section.  The opening screen of Forever Enthralled also reveals that it will be joining the competition section, even though the full program has yet to be announced.

- In the midst of a serious recession, Japanese people are staying home to watch TV, which has proven to be quite beneficial for satellite and cable television operators who rely on suscribers’ fees instead of advertising as a major source of revenue.

- The Hong Kong Film blog has a trailer to Oxide Pang’s latest film Basic Love, which hopefully has no ghost and is just a teen love story with bad dialogue. Here’s a sample:

Girl: “Why do you treat me so well? You’re in love with me?”
Boy: “Yeah, I’m in love with you. I’m not gay. I’ve been in love with you since we were students!”

It opens on February 26th.

- In 2008, things were a little bit different in Asian box office. While large Hollywood blockbusters did well in the region as usual, local films have been extremely successful througout the region, with Japan being responsible for six of the ten highest-grossing films in Asia. China didn’t do so badly, either, with Painted Skin becoming a surprise hit and local romantic comedy If You Are the One heading towards breaking Titanic’s record.

- Lastly, Variety’s Derek Elley chimes in with a brief review of Lady Cop and Papa Crook.

The Golden Rock - January 16th, 2009 Edition

Didn’t get to report on those other Asian box office numbers. Here we go:

- From 73 screens, Red Cliff II saw a very good opening day in Hong Kong with HK$1.73 million. However, that is actually below the opening of part 1, and it’s going up against the opening of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea. Then again, it has the extended Chinese New Year holiday going for it, and it will certainly have better word-of-mouth than the first movie to carry it to success.

- A quiet weekend at the Taiwan box office, as no Chinese films ended up on the top 10. The Hollywood caper film Thick as Thieves managed a second place opening, and the best-performing Chinese film was Forever Enthralled all the way down at 11th place. The Taiwan-based political thriller Ballistic didn’t really interest anyone and could only get a 13th place opening. Red Cliff II also opened in Taiwan for this weekend, so that will probably rule the box office and bump everything else off.

- In Japan, a 3-day weekend didn’t help boost business at the box office, as Wall-E wins another weekend despite losing 41% in grosses. It’s nice to see K-20 still hanging at 3rd place with a loss of only 28.7% in gross, even though it’s only made half of the 3 billion yen Toho was hoping to make after 4 weekends.  Surprising is how well Thread of Destiny is performing, considering the fact that the TV drama is only doing single-digit ratings for the first three weeks. Things may pick up with Pandemic opening and sneak preview shows for Quantum of Solace this weekend.

- Another film opening this weekend in Japan is Ramen Girl, starring Brittney Murphy as an American trying to learn how to make ramen in Japan. The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the film. I hope she pulls it off before her visa expires.

- Japan’s Blue Ribbon Awards handed out its Best Film award to Climber’s High, the real-life drama about a newspaper covering a plane crash, and in a surprise pick, Hirokazu Kore-eda for Best Director for his work on Still Walking. All Around Us also got some love, with Tae Kimura taking the Best Actress award and Lily Franky taking Best Newcomer.

- I don’t care about it so much, but I’m sure lots of anime fans worldwide are fuming that Fox has announced that the live-action version of Cowboy Bebop will be starring Keanu Reeves.

- Zhang Yimou, who last earned some brownie points with the Chinese government with the Olympic ceremonies, will reportedly take on directing duties for the PRC 60th anniversary show. Please go back to making movies soon, Mr. Zhang. The rest of the moviegoing public of the world misses you.

- 2008 Golden Rock of the Year Jero has taken on his first acting role in a film as a thug who has several jobs. Considering that it’s based on a Kankuro Kudo play, this should be interesting.

The Golden Rock - December 14th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! From the legendary Boss Kozo are the reviews for Wu Jing’s directorial debut Legendary Assassin and the Zhou Xun-starring film Equation of Love and Death. Also, there are two reviews up for Tony Jaa’s Muay Thai epic Ong Bak 2, one from Wise Kwai and the other from Brian of Asian Cinema - While on the Road. Lastly, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2.

- Japanese film distributor Toho declares that 2008 is their biggest year ever, thanks to Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo On a Cliff by the Sea, the 7 billion yen-plus take of Hana Yori Dango Final, and other successful TV-to-silver-screen film adaptation.

- Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled, which had a pretty good opening weekend in China last week, is heading to this year’s Berlin Film Festival in competition. I’m sure it’ll be better received than The Promise already.

- A brand-new teaser for Takashi Miike’s Crows Zero II just popped up online. This one actually features footage from the film. After having a ton of blast with the first film, I say bring on the hyperactive high school beatdowns.

- The assistant director of the Olympic opening ceremony is taking John Woo’s Red Cliff and making it an opera for the stage. However, he hasn’t revealed how exactly he’ll pull it off yet.

- Under “Japanese cinema casting news” today, Etsushi Toyokawa and Hiroko Yakushimari will be starring in Isao Yukisada’s latest film. Yukisada was an assistant director for Shunji Iwai and directed Crying Out For Love in the Center of the World, one of Japan’s highest-grossing romantic melodrama ever.

Korean boy group TVXQ (or Tohoshinki in Japan) will be appearing in a performance and singing the theme song within the manga-based film Subaru, the new film from Hong Kong director Lee Chi-Ngai. Lee directed Lost and Found, starring Kelly Chan and Michael Wong, and last made Magic Kitchen, starring Sammi Cheng.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the upcoming historical dramas and other programs coming to Japanese TV this month before the end of the year musical extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen.

- Representing Asia at the CineMart market during the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2009 are Korea’s Gina Kim, Japan’s Nobuhiro Yamashita, and China’s Zhang Yuan.

- Ryuganji has the second part of his translation of a Japanese magazine article on the Japanese film business in the 21st century.

The Golden Rock - November 26th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More over at Korea Pop Wars

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

More on Tokyograph.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - November 24th, 2008 Edition

Long time no see. It’s been a very busy month, so please excuse the extended breaks.

-  In the same situation as Taiwan, Cape No. 7 entered the Hong Kong box office with a good, but not spectacular start. The now-historic Taiwanese comedy-romance-drama opened on 23 screens and made HK$586,380 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2 million. However, unlike its run in Taiwan, the opening in Hong Kong was preceded by unavoidable buzz, which makes this opening a little underwhelming. Depending on word-of-mouth, normal box office patterns suggest that this will end up making around HK$5 million, which makes this one of the better-grossing Taiwanese movies in recent years (excluding Lust, Caution, of course). Nevertheless, for a movie that beat every movie except Titanic in its native country, underwhelming is the buzz word here.

At least it did better than Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. From 32 screens, the family-friendly doggie film  made HK$1.36 million over the 4-day weekend, which means it’ll surely not repeat the success of High School Musical 3 last month. The Richard Gere-led romantic drama Nights in Rodanthe opened on 20 screens, but made only HK$400,000 over the 4-day weekend.

As for the holdovers, Quantum of Solace is still in 2nd place in its 3rd weekend, now with a 18-day total of HK$17.12 million after making another HK$507,000 from 41 screens on Sunday. Champions lost about half its audience in its second weekend, now with HK$4.42 million after 11 days. The sad part is that it’s actually quite close to the Mainland Chinese gross after two weeks, which surely makes this a not-very-successful film for Tsui Siu Ming, his Sundream Pictures, and Dicky Cheung, who still has a few more films (including his directorial debut) under his contract.

The Coens’ Burn After Reading lost two screens in its second weekend, but saw a much lower drop in its second weekend. From 18 screens, it still managed to make HK$184,000 for a 11-day total of HK$2.07 million. Last week’s limited release Bella also hung on to its audiences, still making HK$90,000 from 8 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$1.04 million. Detroit Metal City passed the HK$10 million mark over the weekend, and has now made HK$10.18 million after 25 days, marking this another hit for Kenichi Matsuyama in Hong Kong.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect made a total of HK$180,000 from 30 screens over 5-6 sneak preview shows over the weekend. It’ll open against plenty of newcomers over the weekend, so we’ll see whether the intended teen girl audiences will show up this weekend.

- In Hong Kong, despite the complaints about falling grosses and dying Cantonese film industries, cinemas actually saw a higher total gross than last year. Of course, this is mostly due to the major success of several Hollywood films such as The Dark Knight and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

- It was a public holiday today in Japan, so no Japan numbers until over the next few days. However, in TV drama news, the Summer 2008 ratings winner Code Blue will get a special one-off episode in January. Can someone say film adaptation soon?

- Speaking of Patrick Kong, his new film Love Connected has just started filming, and Gold Label has already premiered a new trailer. However, there’s no actual footage from the film; it’s only a somewhat funny parody of the Connected trailer. Love Connected comes out next Valentine’s Day.

- The Good, the Bad, and the Weird was the big winner at Korea’s Blue Dragon Awards, even though it only won one of the major awards (Kim Jee-woon for Best Director). Instead, the handball film Forever the Moment picked up Best Picture, while Son Ye-jin picked up a surprise win for My Wife Got Married. The Chaser, which swept the competing Grand Bell Awards earlier in the year, only won a much-deserved Best Actor award for Kim Yoon-suk.

- Giving credit where it’s due, it was first reported on Kaiju Shakedown. Now Screen Daily has confirmed that Johnny Hallyday - not Alain Delon - will be starring in Johnnie To’s latest, about a French gangster-turned-chef coming to Hong Kong to avenge his daughter. Will this be a new Milkyway masterpiece, or another Fulltime Killer-like attempt at international filmmaking?

- Also from Kaiju Shakedown today is the news of legendary actress Josephine Siao coming back to Hong Kong cinema with a new role after finding a script that she loves enough to bring her out of retirement.

- Chinese television dramas was such a lucrative business that every other production company started making them. However, the global financial crisis and a growing backlog in the stations’ schedules has caused things to slow down, even though the major players are still doing their thang.

-  Under “Japanese music” news today, Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli is releasing a brand-new compilation of their most well-known theme songs if any Ghibli fan hasn’t collected them all yet.

Mr. Children, who have been been active since 1989 and has rejected the invitation to Japan’s year-end musical extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen every year, has finally agreed to appear for the first time ever. Now NHK needs to get Hikaru Utada - another chronic rejection musician - to finally appear as well.

- Next month, American theaters will see Waiting for Beijing, the directorial debut of Chinese entrepeneur Alan Zhang, who worked 20 years to break into the world of cinema. However, his film was unable to get any deals at the recent American Film Market, even though he plans to make four more films in 2009.

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2008 Edition

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

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to real news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - October 14th, 2008 Edition

- The Japanese cinema attendance figure for Saturday and Sunday is finally out after the holiday weekend. Suspect X, the film version of the hit drama Galileo, retains its number 1 spot, and the Masked Rider movie also retains its number 2 spot. The surprise this weekend is the boost for Departures from 5th place to 3rd place. It may be because of the news of actor Toru Minegishi’s death, or it may be due to really good word-of-mouth (as shown by its small 17.6% drop in the second weekend). Lastly, only one opening film made the top 10, and that’s Get Smart at 10th place.

- In Korea, Eagle Eye debuts at 1st place, while aspiring blockbuster Modern Boy drops to 3rd place. Kim Ki Duk finally sees another one of his film land on the top 10, as Dreams open at 6th place after opening on over 100 screens.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- South Korean gangster drama Fate opened last weekend in Japan, but the Korean wave has been fading away for a long time in Japan. From 94 screens, the film only made 23.87 million yen, which is only 37% of the opening for Running Wild.

- Twitch has the link to a trailer for the game Ni No Kuni, whose animated sequence are done by Studio Ghibli and even features a score by Joe Hisaishi.

- Another work that was unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show this year is the Japan-produced full-length CG-animated Resident Evil film, which will be released this weekend in Japanese theaters.

- Park Chan Wook has reportedly finished shooting his latest vampire film Thirst, which has been rumored to feature Song Kang Ho in some explcit sex scenes. Park also said that this is the best film he’s ever done, which means it better be pretty damn good.

- Looks like Japanese TV network TBS is about to stir some controversy with its upcoming drama special, which has casted Takeshi Kitano as Hideki Tojo, who was prime minister during World War II and was executed as one of the major war criminals after the war.

The Golden Rock - October 8th, 2008 Edition

- While Suspect X, the film adapatation of hit TV drama Galileo, did open pretty big in Japan this past weekend, it actually didn’t do as well as Toho and Fuji TV had probably hoped. On 410 screens, the detective-pseudo-science mystery made 544 million yen, which was enough to put it at first place. However, the opening is just 54% of the openings for Hero and Boys Over Flowers, which means it’s looking to do about half of what those films did, making it a slight disappointment, despite still being a major hit.

Mr. Texas also breaks down who went to see the movie. With the appeal of star Masaharu Fukuyama, it’s no surprise that females made up 65% of the audience. Also, 19.7% of the audience named him as the main reason of going to see the film (while 27.2% went because they were fans of the drama). However, unlike Boys Over Flowers, whose audience mostly comprised of females under 20 years old, Suspect X’s biggest demographic are working adults, which made up 43% of the audience. Does this mean films that skew slightly older wouldn’t make as much money? Does that mean that it might have a longer run because that demographic wouldn’t necessarily rush out to the see the film on opening weekend?

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Yet another compilation takes the top spot of the album charts. This time it’s Mariya Takeuchi’s 3-CD compilation, which makes her the artist with the longest career at the time of a #1 album. On the single charts, boy band NEWS debuts at number 1 with their latest, while the new Kou Shibasaki/Masaharu Fukuyama collaboration (for the Galileo film) only managed a 5th place debut.

More at Tokyograph

- As Pusan wraps up, it’s time to link to some final pieces of news from the festival. The Pusan Promotion Plan has handed out its prizes, giving the top prize to Malaysian film Forget-me-not, while Secret Sunshine director Lee Chang Dong won about $17,000 worth of negative stock for his latest film.

The Asian Film Market in Pusan looked quiet and didn’t do much business, but people were staying busy for other reasons during the market, which was enough to qualify the festival as a success.

However, Variety has a different story, with buyers complaining that the market is geared towards Korean buyers, and the Korean film industry is in such a bad shape that most people just window shopped rather than making deals.

One deal did happen: An American production company brought up the remake rights to the Korean film Driving With My Wife’s Lover, which has been earning favorable reviews all around.

Lastly, here is a roundup of reviews that played at Pusan from Screen Daily’s critics.

OK, bring on the Tokyo CoFesta!

- Despite Screen Daily reporting Korean distributors’ reluctance to release Japanese films in Korea due to Boy Over Flowers and 20th Century Boys‘ lackluster performances, yet another Japanese film will be opening in Korea. And Hong Kong as well. To be fair, Tokyo Girl isn’t exactly a major blockbuster, which means the rights probably didn’t cost all that much.

- Japanese award-winning actor Ken Watanabe is going back to his small-screen roots, playing the lead in an upcoming TV drama special (essentially a TV movie) as a real-life police detective that became the model of many police procedural dramas.

- Despite being in the midst of political turmoil, as well being on the heels of a relatively successful world-class film festival, Bangkok is ready to unleash yet another film festival come October 24th.

In other film festival news, the Tokyo Filmex has unveiled the lineup for this year’s edition, while Jason Gray reminds you that all the films will be subtitled in English!

- Alexi Tan, who’s probably still reeling from the overall response to his debut film Blood Brothers, has come back, but only for clothing company Diesel and their latest line of jeans. Twitch has the trailer to the short film, which will go public on the 12th. Todd Brown sees possible greatness, I see much much less.

- Korean pop singer Son Dam Bi is going to Hollywood with the dance film Hype, and I already bet she either won’t have any lines or will play some white guy’s love interest. But that’s just me all bitter-talking.

- Japanese actor Ken Ogata passed away on Sunday. He was a veteran on stage, TV, and films, and he has been acting for 50 years. His last role was on the upcoming TV drama Kaze no Garden. He was 71.

 
 
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