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Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

The Golden Rock - July 11, 2011 Edition

- Before getting into the focus story today, Sina News just posted a story about WU XIA’s box office in China:

According to the story, the film only made RMB 92 million in the seven days, which co-investor Stellar Megamedia’s CEO admits to being disappointed by. However, he also points out that the film already took up 50% of total box office gross in China this past week, which means that people just aren’t going to movies. He also believes that the recent box office gouging scandal has only minimal impact (more on that later), and that there are bigger factors at play here.

We Pictures marketing head Mr. Lu also admits to being disappointed with the gross, especially its weekend gross. He says total box office in July so far is “outrageously low” compared to the same time last year. However, Lu also says that with overseas sale, the film will eventually find its way to profitability. More analysis of WU XIA’s box office when figures come out in a day or two.

- Today’s focus story is on internet distribution for films in China. In January 2011, LET THE BULLETS FLY premiered on Chinese video sites such as Youku, Tudou, and others, on an on-demand basis. Essentially, the idea is that you pay RMB 5, and you can watch the film as many times as you’d like within 48 hours. The film was viewed over 200,000 times in 20 days, grossing over RMB 1 million.

With legitimate DVD cost continuing to rise and piracy still rampant, this is the new way of film distribution in China. Basically, a film typically lands on these video sites about a month after their theatrical release. After a paid VIP Zone window, which allows members to watch the film in HD for a small premium, the film becomes free for all members. As of today, A BEAUTIFUL LIFE, NO. 32  B DISTRICT, and LOVE FOR LIFE can all be seen for free already, some with subtitles and some without. These sites also include a large arsenal of television dramas, including all 30 episodes of NAKED WEDDING (trust me, they’re not naked like the way you think they are), which just premiered on one major Chinese regional network tonight.

Only a year or so ago, films were being uploaded illegally by users mainly on sites like Tudou and Youku. These sites pulled off a major cleanup and began acquiring licenses from content owners, which would make sense considering the amount of advertising these deals can generate. LeTV (the site I frequent the most) is one of the leading video sites in China. Not only has it built up an archive of over 4,000 films, it is also the first company of its kind to be traded on the stock market. In addition to a free iPad app, LeTV also sells an Apple TV-like device that streams its archive of films via the internet to television in HD, and they’re planning to sell 100,000 of these things this year. I saw an ad for it when I was in the cinema this past weekend:

004716533.jpg

Tudou, Youku, and now even CCTV’s movie channel have made mobile apps for easier access to their films.

This is a very similar model to what Apple is doing in the states and Japan with iTunes, opening up more platforms and choices for audiences to watch films legitimately. However, these Chinese film industry is relying on this platform to work more so than the studios in the United States. Due to high ticket prices, cinema going is still considered a luxury for workers who only make about an average of US$500 a month. By making films available at a lower price than pirated DVDs, content owners are taking back any revenue they can in any possible way. As I had predicted earlier, the Chinese film industry is definitely heading towards a bubble situation, but there are things being done to delay that day, and internet distribution is one of them.

However, there are problems that come with this model:

1) There’s no report on the true impact of these technology has on cinema revenue yet, but once there is, cinema owners will not be happy (the previous report about July box office being low may be one of the first signs). Like it or not, cinema revenue is still the best way for films to make money, and on a personal note, I believe that films are made to be seen in cinema. If the cinemas go down, the industry will also be severely impacted in a negative way. The same goes for legitimate video sales. Video publisher already had to resort to releasing inferior DVD-5 versions of Chinese films to make them more affordable, but internet distribution is offering these films at a better video quality for a lower price. With Blu-rays being sold at astronomical prices and DVD sales likely to go way down, the Chinese video market may eventually disappear. As far as I know, there is no legit video rental industry in China at the moment.

2) Rising licensing cost. While smaller films will appreciate that video sites will buy their content, production companies are likely charging more and more for bigger films. One day, these licenses may become so expensive that video sites don’t see the point in shelling out the money for them anymore. The rising cost situation is already happening on the TV drama end, where prices are per episode, not per series.

3) Copyright infringement. LeTV recently filed suit against a manufacturer of a home media center (similar to LeTV’s television box) for allegedly providing access to films that LeTV claims to hold exclusive rights for. The media scene in China is very fragmented right now, with more video sites, television stations, and news outlets than I care to count, which means many different companies sharing content that they might not be permitted of having. This may discourage video sites to pay the big bucks for exclusive rights, or encourage video sites to clamp down harder on enforcing their exclusive rights, as well as extending pay windows. This will have a negative effect on consumers, who may just go back to illegal downloads or buying pirated DVDs.

There are a million directions which internet film distribution in China can go, but I say the more legit ways people have to watch films, the healthier the film industry will be. Sure, a film should be watched in the cinema, but it seems like for now, the masses have spoken, and they say otherwise.

- Following up on the box office gouging story from last week, netizens are still reporting that they’re not getting tickets to films they paid to see. To refresh your memory, audience buys ticket to WU XIA, theater prints a ticket to BEGINNING OF GREAT REVIVAL. Audience watches WU XIA, but money go towards BEGINNING OF GREAT REVIVAL.

Netizens reported last week that this practice is still happening in some cities. The distributor lamented that cinemas are simply saying that their employees made mistakes at the box office and that they can do little more than that. China Film Group continues to deny and decry the practice, while Stellar Media continues its campaign of offering RMB 1000 to each report of box office gouging for WU XIA. Stellar Media says they have already given out RMB 5000, and they have no idea how many more thousands they’ll have to give out.

Weibo reports of gouging have slowed down over the weekend, and I will say that this past weekend, I was given printed tickets for films that I actually bought tickets for, so no RMB 1000 for me.

- TVB/Shaw Brothers’ FORTUNE BUDDIES, spun off from the TVB variety show FUN WITH LIZA AND GODS, completed its 20-day shoot. Star/producer Eric Tsang said the film will only have three days of post-production because it has to go through Mainland censorship before its opening date of August 11th (simultaneous with Hong Kong). This is not the shortest shoot for a Hong Kong film - Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s HELP!! only took 30 days from shooting to hitting cinemas, and director Pang Ho-Cheung shot EXODUS in reportedly 18 days. Go, Hong Kong cinema!

Trailer for FORTUNE BUDDIES here.

And now, today’s edition of WHAT I LEARNED FROM SINA WEIBO:

- Derek “son of Eric” Tsang posted the cover of the script for Pang Ho-Cheung’s reportedly Beijing-set sequel to LOVE IN A PUFF. It revealed two things: the script is co-written by Pang and Hong Kong novelist Lu Yi Xin, and its current English title is LOVE IN A BUFF. No kidding. Tsang wrote that he was heading back to Hong Kong to do a cameo for the film, but the weibo post has since been deleted.

- William Chan (HI, FIDELITY) has signed on for a 3D film called WU XING GONG LUE, a drama about Mongolian wrestlers in the 1960s directed by Casey Chan. According to its Baidu entry, the film is supposed to star Siqin Gaowa, Betty Sun, and Josie Ho, and it was presented at Hong Kong’s Filmart in 2010.

- Donnie Yen says that he personally prefers the Cantonese version of WU XIA, though it may have something to do with the fact that he spoke Cantonese in the film (He was dubbed in the Mandarin version).

- MURDERER director Roy Chow will soon shoot a film starring a buffed up Nick Cheung and (after some research) Simon Yam. Could this be the MURDERER 2 that Simon Yam was referring to? According to this story, Janice Man will also co-star.

Next time, Chinese box office analysis, a busy, low-budget summer in Hong Kong and whatever else we can get our hands on.

The Golden Rock - July 6th, 2009 Edition

Back after a week-long break.

Also added new Twitter feed. You can see it on your right.

- No official Hong Kong numbers yet, but like America, expect it to be a fight between Transformers and Ice Age 3

- In Japanese attendance figures, the comic adaptation MW debuts at a disappointing 6th place and Anpanman debuts at 7th place, while everything above that stays the same. More when the numbers are out.

- In Spring 2009 Japanese drama ratings, the Monday 9pm Fuji disaster Kankatsu wraps up with a 10.5% rating for a season average of 10.5%. Mr. Brain’s second-to-last episode dips back down to 18.3%, keeping it under 20% for the third week in a row. It’ll need a 20+% rating for its final episode to keep its average above 20%. Either way, it’ll be the highest rated show of the season, even though it kinda cheated with only 8 episodes.

For the Summer 2009 dramas, which seems to be getting an early start, Kanryotachi no Natsu (looks like a rehash of Kareinaru Ichizoku without the big cast and big budget) premiered with a 14.5% rating. Call Center no Koibito, the first starring role for Kotaro “son of Junichiro” Koizumi, premiered to just a 9.3% rating. Will be able to know which ones to focus on when I see the synopses for them all.

- As expected, Chinese box office continues to grow exponentially, with box office gross from the first half year up 45% from the same period last year.

- In South Korea, thanks to local hits My Girlfriend is an Agent, Mother, and Old Partner, local box office has shot up compared to this same time last year, when the industry was in the middle of a slump.

- The great New York Asian Film Festival has wrapped up with the jury announcing its winners. Japan picks up five awards, and I can say the awards are well-deserved, at least for the ones I’ve seen.

-  Under “Japanese casting news” today, the prolific Kenichi Matsuyama will be in another comic-adapted film, and this one will reunite him with his Death Note co-star Tatsuya Fuijiwara. Kaiji will be released in October.

Actress Nao Matsushita will be the lead for the next NHK morning drama, about the wife of Gegege no Kitaro creator Shigeru Mizuki. It won’t be on TV until next March.

- It’s trailers time! First off is the first-ever trailer for China’s biggest film ever ever ever! It’s the PRC 60th anniversary film, translated title as “The Great Cause of Our Great Country’s Foundation”. Featuring 170 actors, there’s a prominent actor/director in probably every single shot of this trailer that features a human being. Except Leon Lai -  everyone knows he’s a robot. How many stars can you spot?

Just as bizarre from Japan is the trailer for Tajomaru, which takes the bandit character from the Akutagawa short story In a Grove (which Kurosawa’s Rashomon is based on. Toshiro Mifune played Tajomaru in that film), give him the pretty boy face of Shun Oguri, and give him a totally created background story. Personally, I think it’ll be another Ichi for Warner Bros. Japan. In other words, a flop.

- The Chinese film censorship body SARFT has a new vice-director, and it’s a surprise pick because he was kind of a nobody. However, not much is expected to change since he’s already within the system in the first place.

- Another Japanese production house is in trouble. This time it’s animation house Gonzo, whose stocks have been delisted from the Tokyo stock exchange after they found their debt exceeded their revenue.

- Twitch reviews the entire box set of the Jeonju Digital Project films, and this is just part 1.

- J.J. Abrams, watch out - AKB48 may be going to perform in New York after they made their overseas debut in Paris.

- Thousands attended the memorial service for the 22nd anniversary of actor Yujiro Ishihara’s death in Tokyo over the weekend.

- The Hollywood Reporter’s international news reporter/editor Steve Brennan passed away. He was 57.

The Golden Rock - January 14th, 2009 Edition

A big change has come regarding the Hong Kong box office news provided on this blog. Since my usual source now.com has decided to stop its box office stats page, I will now only be able to report on Hong Kong box office once a week. My source now will be the Hong Kong Filmart website, which offers comprehensive stats only once a week. Hopefully, a better source will come along soon.

- No Japan box office numbers yet, but the attendence ranking is out. Surprisingly, Steven Soderbergh’s first Che movie landed on 2nd place in its first weekend. According to Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant, it made 139 million yen from 248 screens nationwide in its first two days of release (even though it was a 3-day holiday weekend), and that the 47 theaters in the 9 major metropolitan areas accounted for 47% of the gross. So while the per-screen average is roughly 560,000 yen, the per-screen average in the major cities is much higher at roughly 1.21 million yen. However, with 42% of Moviewalker voters giving the first film a C, I doubt the second film will do as well when it comes out in three weeks.

Other than that, with the exception of The Day the Earth Stood Still taking a dive to 4th place, everything else remains fairly stable.

- Japan will get its first major domestic release this weekend with virus disaster film Pandemic, and Jason Gray provides a fairly lengthy review of it on his blog.

- In China, Red Cliff 2 was so huge that it already made over 100 million yuan over the opening weekend. Of course, it probably opened on a whole lot of screens to get to that number. With the Lunar New Year holiday underway in China, looks like it might actually make its budget back just with the Chinese box office gross. I’ll be catching this tomorrow night here in Hong Kong.

- In Korea, only two films on the top 10 this past weekend are local releases, but they also happen to be the highest-grossing releases on the top 10 by far.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- The Winter 2009 Japanese drama season is underway, with a few major drama premiering this past week. The Ryo Kase-Yukie Nakama drama Arifureta Kiseki saw a soft opening with only a 12.5% rating. Meanwhile, the 4th season of Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi makes its premiere at primetime (which means less of the risque content that made it special before at its old late-night timeslot), and got a respectable 11.9% rating. The Yosuke Eguchi-Goro Inagaki-Ryoko Hirose mystery drama Triangle started off with only an OK-14.7% rating.

Meanwhile, Akai Ito has benefitted from the film version with a boost to a 10% rating for its latest episode. Not in the linked chart, but the Code Blue special episode had a 23.1% rating, which is even higher than its highest-rated episode. Don’t be surprised if it’ll be heading to the big screen soon.

Next week will be the premiere of the Monday night 9pm Fuji drama and the second episode dips of the dramas mentioned above.

Visit Tokyograph for the Winter 2009 drama sypnosis.

-  On the Japan Oricon charts, the first solo single by Tackey (of Tackey and Tsubasa) scored first place on the singles chart, while Ai no Mama de has proven to be this year’s benefactor of the “Kohaku Effect” (songs not quite well-known previously gets a huge bump after appearing on the yearly Kohaku Uta Gassen music extravaganza on New Year’s Eve). Ikimono Gakari’s album gets bumped down to 3rd place in its second week by two compilation albums. Such is the tragedy of J-pop sales.

More on Tokyograph.

- Jackie Chan will likely be joining the cast of the remake of The Karate Kid, starring Will Smith’s son, as the titular character’s master. I wonder whether Jackie will be playing a Japanese character (Karate is, after all, Japanese), and how Chinese netizens will be reacting to that one.

- An interesting article from Hollywood Reporter reports that Oscar favorite Slumdog Millionaire may not do very well in India because of the harsh reality of India it portrays, despite its popularity overseas.

- Another possibly risky release is the Taiwanese blockbuster Cape No. 7, which finally has a set release of Valentine’s Day after the distributor pulled its initial release after rumors that it was out of fear of a disgruntled nationalistic audience and political reasons (the official reason was something about the subtitles). However, it will be slightly altered for some bad language, which probably includes its famous opening line.

- The Academy has announced its short list for the Best Foreign Film nominee, and Japan’s Departures managed to get on it. If nominated, it would be the first Japanese film since Yoji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai to receive a Best Foreign Film nomination. Also glad to see France’s The Class on that short list.

Not exactly a surprise, but neither Painted Skin nor China’s Olympic documentary Dream Weaver got on that short list.

- The atrocious Hana Yori Dango Final has spent its 4th consecutive week at the top of the Japanese DVD sales chart, and is now the 3rd best-selling Japanese DVD in history. It just means Japanese people need to buy more DVDs of better movies and that they need to be charged less for it.

- Despite having premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in 2006, Jia Zhangke’s Still Life didn’t get a North America release until 2008, which made it qualified for the various critics awards. This is why it managed to win two awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Cinematography.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review for Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 2, which satisfied this blogger’s need for a muay Thai fix. though not the need for a compelling story.

The Golden Rock - October 21st, 2008 Edition

A quick update because of a lack of time:

- First, here are how the opening films are doing at the Hong Kong box office after 5 days in theaters:

Mirrors - HK$1.97 million - 31 screens
The Vampire Who Admires Me - HK$1 million - 27 screens
Awake  - HK$420,000 - 10 screens (opened on 13 screens)
Accuracy of Death - HK$170,000 - 3 screens.

As for the others, Body of Lies is now at HK$4.94 million after 11 days, Butterfly Lovers is behind with HK$4.87 million after 11 days, Painted Skin is still under the HK$10 million mark with HK$9.87 million after 20 days, Connected has passed the HK$13 million mark with HK$13.06 million after 26 days, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona is doing well (by Woody Allen standards) with HK$1.89 million after 11 days, and Mamma Mia is still going with HK$11.87 million after 40 days.

- At the Japanese box office attendance chart, Suspect X (the film spin-off of TV drama Galileo) gets its third weekend at the number one spot. Hollywood films Eagle Eye and P.S. I Love You open at 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Departures continues its strong run at 4th place, and Ponyo jumps back up to 8th place.

-The fall 2008 drama season in Japan is coming to a great start for some of the major networks. Fuji has great premiere ratings for Celeb to Binbou Taro (17.6% rating) and The Glorious Team Bastista (15.2% for their troubled Tuesday 10pm spot is pretty good), while Kaze no Garden holds on to a respectable 18.0 rating in its second week. TBS has the highest-rated drama premiere with Ryusei no Kizuna (21.2% rating), with its Sunday night drama Scandal premiering with a promising 16.9 rating. On the other hand, NTV’s highest-rated drama is currently Scrap Teacher, with only a 12+ rating so far for both episodes.

Still, TBS and Fuji have their share of disappointments: the expensive terrorist drama Bloody Monday (co-produced with film distributor Toho) is still at 11.4% rating after two weeks, while Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Room of King has fallen to single-digit ratings for its second week in a row. More next week, when the rest of the private network dramas premiere.

All drama sypnoses are at Tokyograph.

- The Tokyo International Film Festival is off to a strange start this year: First, guests at opening film Red Cliff were walking out because only one of the two screens had an Englush-subtitled print. Then competition jury chairman Jon Voight raised his hands towards the ceiling while thanking Akira Kurosawa in Japanese during his opening remarks. Maybe it’s the green carpet.

- Meanwhile, at the Contents market, American producers came together to talk about the challenges of remaking Asian films for the western market.

- Japanese electronic pop group Perfume, featuring three almost overly spunky girls, is certainly having their biggest year ever: they have now sold more DVDs than pop divas such as Koda Kumi and Namie Amuro. I think it’s the voice and their excellent lip-syncing.

-Hong Kong film producer Universe is looking at another year of loss as video sales drop 30% and theatrical takings dropped by 12%, mainly due to the lack of a true hit film. If I remember correctly, their only releases this year so far are See You in Youtube (which was a surprise moderate hit) and Sparrow, neither of which got even past the HK$7 million mark. Of course, they blame internet piracy instead.

- The role of internet libel in the recent string of celebrity suicides in South Korea have sparked talks of imposing restrictions on free speech on the internet. Of course, there are theories that suggest it’s the government’s way of suppressing dissent.

- It’s reviews time! Derek Elley looks at two Mainland Chinese films this time - first the Chinese Academy Awards representative Dream Weavers - Beijing 2008, then the so-bad-it’s-hilarious Kung Fu Hip Hop. I’m surprised he didn’t mention the horrendous subtitles.

- Lastly, Hong Kong actress Gigi Lai, who may be best known to foreign viewers for her role in the Young and Dangerous movies, has announced that she will retire to take care of her ailing younger brother’s business. Of course, Hong Kong viewers will continue to see her on the small screen until February as one of the three female leads on the new 82-episode TVB drama The Gem of Life. Yes, that’s 82.

The Golden Rock - July 26th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s do a little prediction to this weekend’s Hong Kong box office. On Thursday opening day, The Dark Knight continues its domination of Hong Kong theaters despite the arrival of Pixar’s Wall-E. On 74 screens, the comic book film made another HK$1.91 million for a 8-day total HK$26.05 million, and will have no problem passing the HK$30 million mark this weekend. Meanwhile, the Disney animated film made HK$1.14 million from 57 screens without any ticket price inflation and with most of the screens showing the dubbed Cantonese version. The new X-Files movie opened on 34 screens and made only HK$320,000, and should wrap the weekend up with around HK$1.5 million.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to Now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$21.14 million after 15 days.

Poor Red Cliff has become the casualty, as many Hong Kong theaters have reduced it to simply 2-4 shows a day in the small auditoriums. Even Broadway Cinemas, run by Edko, who co-distributed the film in Hong Kong, have reduced showings dramatically to make way for this weekend’s openers. However, a quick scan at online presales show that these few shows are all at least 80% capacity, which means on 36 screens, it may wrap up the weekend at around HK$23 million and may make its way towards HK$25 million by the time it’s involuntarily wiped out.

More on Monday when the numbers are out.

- The overall Japanese box office has taken a bit of a dip in the first half of 2008, with the big three distributors (Toho, Toei, Shochiku) taking 49% of the pie, the five major Hollywood studios taking roughly 36% of the pie, and the rest sharing roughly 12% of the pie. While the major distributors - both Japanese and American - took a fall in revenue, smaller distributors Gaga and Showgate actually saw an increase in revenue. Too bad Gaga still lost money.

- A much welcomed Okaeri to the Japan film news site Hoga Central. When the blog was still at Blogger and just starting out, Hoga Central was one of the first sites to link to me. Good to see ya back.

- Lovehkfilm fans are gonna go nuts over this. Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue have both taken the Best Actor Award at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival for the Singaporean/Hong Kong film Rule No. 1.

(via Hong Kong Film blog)

Meanwhile, prizes for the most promising projects at the festival has also been given out.

- Media Asia sees UK-based film distributor Tartan fall, and decides to take back all the movies Tartan bought the distribution rights for.

- Imagine this conversation:

Record Company Executive: “So, Hamasaki-san, what was your last release?”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Oh, it was a remix album. My 6th.”

Record Company Executive: “Yeah, and we split that into two full-price albums. Here’s your royalty check, by the way.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Oh, thank you. I still haven’t cashed in the check for my album from earlier in the year.”

Record Company Executive: “Take your time with that. We’re still getting together the check for your last single. Splitting that into four different covers really helped the sales.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “I’ll bet!”

Record Company Executive: “So when was the last time you released a compilation?”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Just last March. We even split that into two full-priced albums too. The money from that bought me a new make-up artist. My 5th.”

Record Company Executive: “Well, your new album can’t be ready yet, right? So we think it’s time you release a new compilation album.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Already?! I only have one album’s worth of new songs.”

Record Company Executive: “Oh, it’s OK. We’ll just do the B’z thing and include all of your singles in it, and make it one 3-disc album to seem like a huge saving!”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “Really? Only the price of one album?”

Record Company Executive: “Oh, we’ll make two different covers for it, of course.”

Ayumi Hamasaki: “I’m in.”

- Twitch’s X looks at why people aren’t so hard on the fact that one film is taking over 45% of total box office in Korea.

- There’s a ton of new posts at Ryuganji, but this one caught my eye the most: Personal recent favorite Haruka Ayase will be starring in a film called Oppai Bare, and I’ll let you read for yourself what that translates to. Ayase only really caught my eye with her cute-as-corn-syrup performance in the TV drama Hotaru no Hikari, so I had no idea about her model past.

Just to add, the film is written by Be With You/Space Travelers screenwriter Yoshikazu Okada. He also recently wrote the ratings flop drama Muri Na Renai.

The Golden Rock - July 9th, 2008 Edition

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! GReeeN!!! rules the album charts for the second week in a row, fending off newcomers Ellegarden and Shiina Ringo (debuting at 2nd and 4th place, respectively). Meanwhile, YUI’s latest takes the top spot at the singles chart in its first week.

More over at Tokyograph.

- Not surprisingly, Kung Fu Panda has now made 135 million yuan in China, making it the highest-grossing animated film in China ever.

- Ryuganji translate an editorial that puts into simple numbers why TV drama adaptations will continue in Japanese cinema as long as just a fraction of its audience goes to see the films.

- Grady Hendrix of Kaiju Shakedown writes about Asian actors participation in the latest Batman flick, including thespian/photo-addict Edison Chen’s one line in the film.

- Under “casting news” today, Jun Matsumoto will be starring in a drama special that is part of Nippon TV’s annual charity program. Matsumoto, hot off the success of Hana Yori Dango Final, is one of the two hosts of the 24-hour program.

Meanwhile, Takako Matsu will be starring alongside Tananobu Asano in a new film based on a story by Osamu Daza. Actually, I don’t believe this is Matsu’s first starring role, since she did star in April Story, which runs just barely over feature film running time of 60 minutes.

Lastly, Hideaki Ito will be playing the villain in the troubled Yoichi Sai production The Legend of Kamui. Wait a minute, Ekin Cheng is in it too!

- Major Japanese film distributor Shochiku has finally started its own Youtube channel for their own trailers. My Youtube source got shut down recently, but trailers are not hard to come by if one searches harder for them anyway. They’re at least on official website (with the exception of Ponyo and many Hong Kong films, of course).

- Speaking of trailers, Nippon Cinema has the full-length trailer for Tetsuya Nakashima’s Paco and the Magic Picture Book, and I’d say it makes the film look a lot more promising than its teasers did.

-  China will be the shooting location for a new film that will be shot using the innovative 4k digital technology, which holds 4 times the data of a usual digital movie. Of course, the word “dragon” is required to be in the title.

-The poor 400 orphan films that lost their home when UK distributor Tartan went under 2 weeks ago have found a new home with a new distributor, who will continue to buy films with the Tartan name attached.

The Golden Rock - July 2nd, 2008 Edition.

- Our first and foremost jobs here at Lovehkfilm is to review movies, and we got some of those for you today. Boss Kozo has a review of Lawrence Lau/Scud’s City Without Baseball, a review of Korean hand ball flick Forever the Moment, a review of the Taiwanese film Soul of a Demon, and a review of Japanese dark comedy Funuke, Show Some Love, You Losers!. JMaruyama offers a review of Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She, which he insists is a remake of Park Chan Wook’s I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK, and that’s OK too. I myself offer a review of Don’t Laugh at My Romance and a review of cute puppy film A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! As expected, Arashi’s theme for the Hana Yori Dango movie debuted at the top, with an impressive 300,000+ copies sold. Shuchishin (aka the “stupid boy band”.  Really, that’s their nickname) not only survived to their second single, but also manage to sell 200,000+ copies of it. The album chart was also fairly crowded, with GReeeN!!! taking the top position for the first week of their second album, Ayaka’s 2nd following close behind, and Ketsumeishi debuting at a somewhat disappointing 3rd place. My newest idol Jero debuts at 5th with his first album.

More at Tokyograph.

- China loves Kung Fu Panda, as it has already become the most successful animated film ever in China with a box office take nearing 100 million yuan after 10 days. I don’t get that two days’ delay in Sichuan, though, which sounds more like distributor’s indecision more than anything else.

The earthquake didn’t exactly affect people’s moviegoing mood anyway, as May’s box office is up 26% from the previous year, prompting China Film Group to post a cryptic message that seem to spell either showing off or amazement.

- The Japanese news shows were all over a Wall Street Journal story this morning, which compared the rather unpopular Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda with current TV Prime Minister Kimura Takuya. Click on the first link, since going directly to the site won’t let you read the whole story.

-  Kaiju Shakedown’s Grady Hendrix looks at what’s going with The Warlords‘ western distribution ambitions, which has now dwindled down to a butchered DVD release.

- A bit late: Jason Gray offers a look by Midnight Eye’s Jasper Sharp on how Tartan UK came to meet their current fate of closing down.

- Lionsgate will be working with CJ Entertainment for Korean Wedding, aka “How Another White Man Falls in Love with Asian Girl and Finds Asian Culture Funny”.

- Taiwan may take a very significant step in continuing to improve relations with China by lifting their ban on Mainland Chinese performers, even though Taiwanese performers have been performing in the Mainland for years.

- An ad sales slump for Japanese television is causing board member of these TV stations to go from earning tons of money to earning just lots of money.

- After the success of the Ayaka-Kobukuro duet Winding Road, their record company is back for round two with another duet to be released.

The Golden Rock - June 23rd, 2008 Edition

- While the Hollywood blockbusters took over the weekend at the Hong Kong box office, the big story is the impressive performance for Johnnie To’s Sparrow. With no real box office draw (Trust me, Simon Yam is not a considered a box office draw by himself in Hong Kong), the film saw a boost over the weekend with the adult audience, making HK$800,000 from 31 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.82 million. This already nearly matches the box office total for PTU, To’s last film with such an extended shoot. As for the Hollywood films, Narnia made HK$1.01 million from 47 screens for an 18-day total of HK$22.07 million, which means it has now surpassed Iron Man and is aiming to match Indiana Jones‘ HK$26 million take in Hong Kong. At second place is The Incredible Hulk, with HK$852,000 from 33 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.96 million. Business is proving to be a little slow, though that could be because of its relatively low screen count.

Hollywood parody flick Superhero Movie is doing much better than Meet the Spartans, with HK$582,000 from 21 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$2.11 million. As for limited releases, 21 did very well with its 2-screen release, making HK$64,000 for a 4-day total of HK$190,000. However, the Lawrence Lau co-directed film City Without Baseball did even worse over the weekend, with only HK$36,000 from 8 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$170,000. Similarly painful is Tsui Hark’s Missing, with only HK$74,000 from 15 screens and a 11-day total of HK$1.17 million. However, it supposedly managed to make nearly 10 million RMB over its opening weekend in China, making it a psuedo-hit (I emphasize psuedo because the budget is surely higher than that.).

- Still waiting for the relevant numbers from Japan and Korea. Meanwhile, Koki Mitani is still working hard to pimp his hit film The Magic Hour, which has now made 2 billion yen and attracted 1.6 million admissions, by running around 5 different theaters to do meet-and-greet sessions at 8 different shows over a course of 24 hours over the weekend (the last show being a 1:20 am show). Hong Kong film should promote themselves like that.

- A Russian film took the top prize at the Shanghai Internatonal Film Festival, while a local film took home the Jury Grand Prix and Best Actor. Taiwanese director Leste Chen also managed to win the Most Creative Award with the pitch for his latest film.

Also, Chinese director Wang Chao also managed to get enough funding to start shooting his next film at the same marketplace during the SIFF.

- Meanwhile, the New York Asian Film Festival has kicked off, with Hollywood Reporter giving it coverage for its first day. You can also keep up with the festival happenings from the Subway Cinema news blog.

- The Death Note films have won the DVD Data award in the Japanese films category. The hit comic-based films sold 260,000 copies as a set, making it the 10th best-selling DVD of 2007. Similar sales are expected for spin-off film L, coming out this week in Japan.

-  Last week, I included a link to the latest trailer for the animated version Storm Riders, and now the Hollywood Reporter reports that the film is complete and is set for a 200-screen release next month. 200 screens seem a little small, though, even for an animated film.

- The Japanese comic Kodomo no Kodomo is being brought to live-action from the director of last year’s Shindo. I saw a short teaser for this when I went to watch Yasukuni and have to say I was already a little disturbed. Now I’m even more disturbed to know that they actually did a series of comics with this story.  The Japanese name translate to “A Child’s Child”. Obviously, this isn’t a major studio-funded film.

The Golden Rock - June 19th, 2008

- New Lovehkfilm reviews are up. First from Boss Kozo is the Tsui Hark flop Missing, the Japanese comedy In the Pool, and the Vietnamese action film The Rebel. Then from yours truly are reviews of the Japanese comedy Fine, Totally Fine, the Japanese arthouse horror flick The Wall Man, and the Korean comedy Radio Dayz.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! As expected, Glay’s latest single debuts at the top of the chart, just beating Koda Kumi’s first post-scandal single. Worth noting is the 7th place debut of DOZHI-T’s single, which is slowly creeping into Japanese media and is likely to have long-term legs like “Soba Ni Iru Yo” earlier this year. Meanwhile Kyosuke Himuro’s 20th anniversary compilation tops a quiet album chart, with Asian Kung-Fu Generation managing a 2nd place debut, and Coldplay all the way down at 5th place.

More at Tokyograph

- Mainly for record keeping, when Paramount wants to use the figure to boost their opening weekend box office: the latest Indiana Jones film had a weekend-long preview screenings in Japan on an astounding 772 screens, which include both subbed and dubbed versions. Over two days, it made a very impressive 597 million yen, which should tell you what kind of competition other films are coming up againist. Despite not opening day-and-date with the rest of the world, it’s looking at becoming the first 10 billion yen-grossing film of the year.

- An Indian entertainment conglomerate is looking to invest USD$500 million into Hollywood studio Dreamworks, which would allow the company to leave its current deal with Paramount Pictures and back to working at being an independent studio once more. This is especially important in terms of Asian entertainment news because while there have been quite a few Asia-Hollywood co-productions, this is the first time an Asian entertainment company is investing such a heavy amount of money into a major Hollywood studio.

- Kung Fu Panda had its Chinese premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival, who decided to not allow the public in at the last minute. Attendees reportedly said liked the film and said it represented Chinese values.

Of course, there are always party poopers who want to ruin things for everyone else, although I can see why they’d be pissed about a Hollywood studio making money off two of Chinese culture’s biggest stereotypes.

- Grady Hendix over at Kaiju Shakedown also show how the Chinese media are trying to keep a nation of restricted media receivers entertained. As I mentioned on the random thoughts bar, Kelly Chan’s wedding announcement ended up in the middle of the Hong Kong news page, because I’m sure everyone in Hong Kong cares about the star of The Empress and the Warriors getting married.

-As expected, entertainment spending in the Asia-Pacfic region is currently growing the fastest, which means major markets such as Hollywood will likely continue try and break into the market in the coming years.

- Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee turns in a review of Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, which is now easily my most anticipated film of the year. Yes, more so than Red Cliff.

- From Nippon Cinema is a write-up of the upcoming Gegege no Kitaro sequel, along with the latest trailer. I wouldn’t be so trusting of that trailer, though: The first film was advertised as a serious supernatural adventure as well, but it turned out to be a kids film.

- Indonesia, in a move to boost the local advetising industry, is banning all foreign-made advertisements and commercials. One foreign professional must be accompanied by three local staffs.

- Well-known Japanese novel Shayo, which was released post-World War II and examined the need for a social change in Japan at the time, is being adapted into a feature film. The question is how timely and how much of the novel’s social change environment will be retained.

- Kaiju Shakedown also looks at Asian movies going to North America, including Eye Infinity, which is actually a title closer to the Pang Bros.’ preference, since they called the third installment of the film The Eye 10 for similar purpose. Of course, then Lionsgate went all oriental but putting the Chinese characters for eye on the DVD cover, although the film’s Chinese name doesn’t have the word  “eye” in it.

- Lastly, Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada has her own way to remind everyone in Japan to tune in for the finale of the hit drama Last Friends tonight on Japanese TV. Utada sings the theme song, which you can hear pretty much everywhere these days.

(note: it’s a parody of the drama’s poster)

The Golden Rock - March 14th, 2008 Edition

Happy White Day!

With no new news coming for the weekend, we’ll do mostly number crunching today.

- As expected in Hong Kong box office, Patrick Kong’s bitter “romantic” drama L For Love, L For Lies shot straight to the top of the box office on opening day. From 37 screens, it made HK$668,000 and will probably see close to HK$1 million per day over the weekend as the kids get out of school for the weekend. The weekend’s other wide opener, the Hollywood remake of the Japanese horror film One Missed Call, opened with only HK$111,000 from 17 screens.  As for limited openers, Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream opened on 9 screens with just HK$52,000. Expect this to get a small boost from the adult audience over the weekend.

- It’s Japanese music charts time! On the Oricon singles chart, Smap scores another number 1 single, making this their 42nd consecutive single to debut at the top ten, tying the record with Southern All Stars. Meanwhile, Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s latest album debut at the top on the album chart, while Every Little Thing and Hitoto Yo are down at second and third place. More details at Tokyograph.

As for the Billboard Japan Hot 100 charts, the rankings are a little different, as airplay managed to lift Ayaka’s single all the way to 2nd place. Radio play also helped the foreign single by Adele get on the top 100, as well as some songs that were not released as singles, such as Keisuke Kuwata’s latest.

- On the Taiwanese G-music chart, Aska Yang seems to never leave the top, especially when sales are this weak. He only had to take up 2.46% of total sales to get that spot, which also helped Joanna Wang’s album as well. However, Gary Chaw drops straight down 12th place, though another new edition of the CD will perk those sales right up. The weak sales also helped Yui Aragaki’s album, which actually took up a bigger share of the sales this week.

- Hong Kong director Pang Ho-Cheung, whom I consider one of my favorites, has directed a trailer for the latest installment of the Udine Far East Festival. Hollywood Reporter has the story, and Twitch has the link.

- It’s like repeating the same story again and again: Japanese total video sales was down by 3.7% in 2007. On the other hand, rental store sales have actually risen.

That’s it for today, y’all

 
 
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