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Archive for the ‘DVD’ Category

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2007 Edition

- After what’s been a somewhat disappointing summer for Hong Kong cinema, there’s finally some good news to report. According to the Sunday numbers from Hong Kong, Benny Chan’s actioner Invisible Target made an impressive HK$1.31 million on just 36 screens (and it’s been sent off to the smaller screens in almost all the multiplexes it’s playing in thanks to Harry Potter). After 4 days, the Nicholas Tse-Shawn Yu-Jaycee Chan starrer has made HK$4.6 million and word-of-mouth may bring it to the HK$10 million mark, which has become a sad sad standard for success.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter did actually win Sunday, making HK$3.1 million on 83 screens (see what I mean about Invisible Target getting shafted?) for a 12-day total of HK$37.03 million. Now that it’ll be passing the HK$40 million mark in a day or two, let’s start looking towards 50 mil, which I’m sure no one will be surprised about. Meanwhile, the Japanese animated film Keroro 2 (which apparently is only out on a Cantonese dub in theatres?!) makes HK$790,000 on 28 screens, many of them not playing it past 5 pm, for the 4-day total of HK$2.32 million.

From Hollywood, the Nicholas Cage sci-fi thriller Next makes HK$220,000 on just 15 screens for HK$780,000 after 4 days, and Quentin Tarantino’s talky Death Proof director’s cut makes just another HK$60,000 on 5 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000. I’m not surprised that more visually exciting Planet Terror will end up doing better, especially when Tarantino’s self-indulgent talk about grindhouse movies won’t translate quite well in Chinese.

US$1=HK$7.8

- This week, Lovehkfilm has a review of the aforementioned Invisible Target, the straight-to-video (at least in America) stinker Kung Fu Fighter, the Singaporean comedy Just Follow Law by Jack Neo, the Japanese blockbuster sequel Limit of Love: Umizaru, Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi’s Korean debut Soo, and the Shunji Iwai-directed documentary Filmful Life (with the last two by yours truly).

- In Japan audience rankings, who honestly didn’t expect Harry Potter to take the weekend? That bumps everything down a spot, except for 300, which gets bumped off of the top 10 along with Zodiac by the animated film The Piano Forest.

- In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the American-made documentary Nanking is a hit, with theaters lowering ticket prices and donors pouring money to make sure as many people get to see it as possible. Anyone see an agenda in Chinese people making a Chinese government-approved documentary a hit?

- Time for endless analysis of Japanese drama ratings. Fuji’s big Monday drama First Kiss gets a Joudan Janai-sized drop from a promising 19.7 rating (about 12.8 million) the first week straight down to a 13.2 (about 8.6 million) for its second week. The “Taiwan got them first, now we’re taking them back” comic adaptation dramas Hana Zakari No Kimi Tachi He and Yamada Taro Monogatari saw one fall slightly and the other got a bit of a bump. Hana lost about 200,000 viewers, while Yamada gained about 400,000 viewers. Don’t worry, they’re on different nights and different time slots anyway.

Meanwhile, the critical favorite/Freaky Friday-ripoff Papa To Musume No Nanakakan got a season high of 14.1 rating (roughly 9.15 million), and Fuji’s experimental Saturday 11pm time slot drama Life hangs on with a 10.9 (7.1 million), which is the same as last week. Oh, and Yama Onna Kabe Onna continues its slow drop to a 12.1 rating (7.9 million viewers) this week for its third episode.

As always, all the information for this season’s drama can be found on Tokyograph.

- After the earlier reported Joey Yung=Mandy Moore MTV discovery, netizens have found yet another MTV by the same director that seems to be derived from an original Japanese source. Except unlike the Joey Yung incident, where EEG and Yung herself seem to simply ignore the complaints, the Taiwanese pop star actually released a statement within hours acknowledging the complaints. Then her manager released his own statement, apologizing and stating that he has asked video play to stop immediately. And then after all of that does the director finally apologize, saying that he did watch YUI’s MTV as a learning tool, but didn’t intend to copy. However, he has not acknowledged copying Mandy Moore’s video.

Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning because the star knows that it’s not her fault, but at least she took the effort to clear her name and apologize, unlike the EEG/Gold Label attitude, where they use “coincidence” as the ultimate excuse for everything.

- That was fast. Milkyway screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi’s directorial debut Eye in the Sky literally just left theaters this past weekend, and a DVD has already been announced for August 4th.

- playwright-screenwriter-sometimes-director Koki Mitani is back with a new film after the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel (a great comedy, by the way). This time it’s a darker piece about a gang thug who brings in an actor to pretend to be an assassin when he can’t find a real one. Apparently he’s promising three laughs a minute (at least that means it won’t run too long like Uchoten Hotel did). Sanspo also does some over-reporting and predicts it might make 12 billion yen based on the Mitani’s films’ box office pattern. Please fuck off with that kind of stuff already.

- Speaking of “what the fuck?” The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow will play Kato in the Green Hornet movie alongside…….Seth Rogan?! Who the hell put together that dartboard?

Thankfully, a closer look shows that the news is from an LA Times blog that reports Seth Rogan WANTS Stephen Chow for Kato. Chow has NOT officially signed on. In fact, he probably hasn’t even been pitched the idea yet.

- Oh, my bad. The controversial Bangkok International Film Festival got under way last Thursday, but hasn’t really seen much clear success in attendance.

- Speaking of festivals, the Toronto Film Festival has announced most of its midnight madness lineup, which includes Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint and Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin.

- Lastly, Hollywood Reporter gives brief reviews of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective and Lee Sang-Il’s Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2007 Edition

- After what’s been a somewhat disappointing summer for Hong Kong cinema, there’s finally some good news to report. According to the Sunday numbers from Hong Kong, Benny Chan’s actioner Invisible Target made an impressive HK$1.31 million on just 36 screens (and it’s been sent off to the smaller screens in almost all the multiplexes it’s playing in thanks to Harry Potter). After 4 days, the Nicholas Tse-Shawn Yu-Jaycee Chan starrer has made HK$4.6 million and word-of-mouth may bring it to the HK$10 million mark, which has become a sad sad standard for success.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter did actually win Sunday, making HK$3.1 million on 83 screens (see what I mean about Invisible Target getting shafted?) for a 12-day total of HK$37.03 million. Now that it’ll be passing the HK$40 million mark in a day or two, let’s start looking towards 50 mil, which I’m sure no one will be surprised about. Meanwhile, the Japanese animated film Keroro 2 (which apparently is only out on a Cantonese dub in theatres?!) makes HK$790,000 on 28 screens, many of them not playing it past 5 pm, for the 4-day total of HK$2.32 million.

From Hollywood, the Nicholas Cage sci-fi thriller Next makes HK$220,000 on just 15 screens for HK$780,000 after 4 days, and Quentin Tarantino’s talky Death Proof director’s cut makes just another HK$60,000 on 5 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$300,000. I’m not surprised that more visually exciting Planet Terror will end up doing better, especially when Tarantino’s self-indulgent talk about grindhouse movies won’t translate quite well in Chinese.

US$1=HK$7.8

- This week, Lovehkfilm has a review of the aforementioned Invisible Target, the straight-to-video (at least in America) stinker Kung Fu Fighter, the Singaporean comedy Just Follow Law by Jack Neo, the Japanese blockbuster sequel Limit of Love: Umizaru, Korean-Japanese filmmaker Sai Yoichi’s Korean debut Soo, and the Shunji Iwai-directed documentary Filmful Life (with the last two by yours truly).

- In Japan audience rankings, who honestly didn’t expect Harry Potter to take the weekend? That bumps everything down a spot, except for 300, which gets bumped off of the top 10 along with Zodiac by the animated film The Piano Forest.

- In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the American-made documentary Nanking is a hit, with theaters lowering ticket prices and donors pouring money to make sure as many people get to see it as possible. Anyone see an agenda in Chinese people making a Chinese government-approved documentary a hit?

- Time for endless analysis of Japanese drama ratings. Fuji’s big Monday drama First Kiss gets a Joudan Janai-sized drop from a promising 19.7 rating (about 12.8 million) the first week straight down to a 13.2 (about 8.6 million) for its second week. The “Taiwan got them first, now we’re taking them back” comic adaptation dramas Hana Zakari No Kimi Tachi He and Yamada Taro Monogatari saw one fall slightly and the other got a bit of a bump. Hana lost about 200,000 viewers, while Yamada gained about 400,000 viewers. Don’t worry, they’re on different nights and different time slots anyway.

Meanwhile, the critical favorite/Freaky Friday-ripoff Papa To Musume No Nanakakan got a season high of 14.1 rating (roughly 9.15 million), and Fuji’s experimental Saturday 11pm time slot drama Life hangs on with a 10.9 (7.1 million), which is the same as last week. Oh, and Yama Onna Kabe Onna continues its slow drop to a 12.1 rating (7.9 million viewers) this week for its third episode.

As always, all the information for this season’s drama can be found on Tokyograph.

- After the earlier reported Joey Yung=Mandy Moore MTV discovery, netizens have found yet another MTV by the same director that seems to be derived from an original Japanese source. Except unlike the Joey Yung incident, where EEG and Yung herself seem to simply ignore the complaints, the Taiwanese pop star actually released a statement within hours acknowledging the complaints. Then her manager released his own statement, apologizing and stating that he has asked video play to stop immediately. And then after all of that does the director finally apologize, saying that he did watch YUI’s MTV as a learning tool, but didn’t intend to copy. However, he has not acknowledged copying Mandy Moore’s video.

Nevertheless, this is worth mentioning because the star knows that it’s not her fault, but at least she took the effort to clear her name and apologize, unlike the EEG/Gold Label attitude, where they use “coincidence” as the ultimate excuse for everything.

- That was fast. Milkyway screenwriter Yau Nai-Hoi’s directorial debut Eye in the Sky literally just left theaters this past weekend, and a DVD has already been announced for August 4th.

- playwright-screenwriter-sometimes-director Koki Mitani is back with a new film after the ensemble hit The Uchoten Hotel (a great comedy, by the way). This time it’s a darker piece about a gang thug who brings in an actor to pretend to be an assassin when he can’t find a real one. Apparently he’s promising three laughs a minute (at least that means it won’t run too long like Uchoten Hotel did). Sanspo also does some over-reporting and predicts it might make 12 billion yen based on the Mitani’s films’ box office pattern. Please fuck off with that kind of stuff already.

- Speaking of “what the fuck?” The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hong Kong comedy legend Stephen Chow will play Kato in the Green Hornet movie alongside…….Seth Rogan?! Who the hell put together that dartboard?

Thankfully, a closer look shows that the news is from an LA Times blog that reports Seth Rogan WANTS Stephen Chow for Kato. Chow has NOT officially signed on. In fact, he probably hasn’t even been pitched the idea yet.

- Oh, my bad. The controversial Bangkok International Film Festival got under way last Thursday, but hasn’t really seen much clear success in attendance.

- Speaking of festivals, the Toronto Film Festival has announced most of its midnight madness lineup, which includes Wilson Yip’s Flashpoint and Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Dai Nipponjin.

- Lastly, Hollywood Reporter gives brief reviews of Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective and Lee Sang-Il’s Japanese Academy Award winner Hula Girl.

The Golden Rock - July 16th, 2007 Edition

The Podcast is ready, just waiting to be uploaded.

- Who is actually surprised that Harry Potter is the number one film this weekend in Hong Kong? According to the Sunday box office numbers, Pot-tah expanded to 105 screens on Sunday and made HK$5.23 million for a 5-day total of HK$20.71 million. I don’t anticipating this thing slowing down soon, so it should pass the HK$40 million mark. However, also note that this gross is after ticket price inflation of HK$10 and a ticket for the IMAX showing cost double the usual ticket. Again, number of admissions, in my mind, is the true measure of success, but they don’t roll like that in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Die Hard 4 is actually still bringing in the audiences (good word-of-mouth?), grossing another HK$840,000 on what is officially its second weekend (though it’s actually its third, thanks to a full week of “previews”) from 36 screens for a 18-day total of HK$15.6 million. Shrek 3, on the other hand, lost a ton of business to Harry Potter and made only HK$400,000 from 33 screens for an 18-day total of HK$19.8 million.

The top Hong Kong performer this weekend is still Hooked On You, making a so-so HK$250,000 on 19 screens for an 18-day total of HK$8.74 million. The question everyone that cares is asking is whether Hooked On You will pass the HK$10 million mark. With HK$1.25 million to go, I’m personally not expecting it to happen, but it’ll get pretty close. Wonder Women continues its slow fading process with only HK$90,000 on 9 screens (it’s already down to two to three shows a day in most theatres) for an 11-day total of just HK$1.36 million. This weekend, I’m not just expecting, but really hoping that Invisible Targets would do well. Pretty please?

- Transformers (reviewed in the Podcast today) broke the opening day record for a foreign film in China and also had a very impressive weekend overall.

- Elsewhere, Japan had a national holiday on Monday, so no box office figures or drama ratings have come in yet. We might get to it tomorrow.

- Just like the movie business in Hong Kong, even Universal music is now turning to China to make more bucks.

- Loft, known to be Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s crappier film from the past year, is now on an English-subtitled Malaysian DVD. Watch at your own risk.

- The Korean film Public Enemy was a critical and commercial success, which led to its not-so-critically successful sequel Another Public Enemy. Apparently, director Kang Woo-Suk doesn’t know how to take a hint, and now he’s making a third movie. At least the good news is that Sol Kyung-Ku will return to his role as a corrupted detective from the first film.

- After Sonny Chiba made a sudden announcement last week on television that he is to quit acting, he finally explains it all at a press conference. Apparently, he doesn’t plan to retire entirely, but rather cut back and turn to doing other things instead. Hey, I’d join the Thousand Leaves Hollywood school just to ask him how he killed a bull and a bear with Karate.

- Turns out the reason for 20th Century Fox not selling their remake rights for Prison Break isn’t really their doing - The Writers Guild of America have policies that prohibits studios from selling their shows to China for remakes (is this ONLY for China, or what?). Nevertheless, Can’t Fox still sue the production company if they actually register the name?

- Anti-smoking groups in China are complaining that the drama New Shanghai Bund (based on the classic Hong Kong drama Shanghai Bund) features too much smoking. These guys should just light one up and chill.

- The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Han Sang-Jun by Korea Pop War’s own Mark Russell. Han is overseeing his first Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival after the controversy last year, but the festival seems to be back to running smoothly this year.

- There was also a panel with several young Korean directors about the recession of the Korean wave and trying to offere possible ways to stabilization.

- TV Asahi is adapting the novel Hanochi for a drama special (or a mini-series). The novel was already adapted in 2004 for film, and it even won best film and best actor at the Japanese Academy Awards. However, the drama is to make some alterations from the novel and the film. Hell, at least they waited a couple of years.

- The historical Queen’s Theatre in Hong Kong is closing down, continuing to signal the death of a golden age in Hong Kong cinema. Now, theatregoers mostly favor multiplexs in malls over single screen theatres such as this. There are still, however, a few older single-screen theatres in Hong Kong, but who knows how long they’ll last.

- One of the things I hate most about Japan are street scouts. Stationed on busy streets in neighborhoods like Shinjuku and Shibuya, these men harass women that they think might be suited to join adult business (or the AV industry as well?) and would pretty much be on them like flies on sweets until they reach the train station or they show any interest. Now TV Asahi is making a drama about what is probably one of the crappiest professions in all of Japan.

- When a Hollywood film fails, they tend to have international gross to try and salvage back the rest of the budget. But now the family comedy Evan Almighty, infamously known as the most expensive comedy ever made, can’t even rely on Japan, one of Hollywood’s largest markets. That’s because the Japanese distributor canceled the theatrical release altogether.

- According to writer/director David Goyer, director Alex Proyas is going back to cult favorite sci-fi film Dark City for a brand-new special edition. I myself like Dark City as well, but I wonder if it really needs such an edition.

- Robert De Niro is putting on his ethnographic glasses to produce a film about the Chinese Revolution in 1949 told through the eyes of one of the few foreigners in the country. Not to be a man of little faith, but I predict this is going to suck already.

The Golden Rock - July 16th, 2007 Edition

The Podcast is ready, just waiting to be uploaded.

- Who is actually surprised that Harry Potter is the number one film this weekend in Hong Kong? According to the Sunday box office numbers, Pot-tah expanded to 105 screens on Sunday and made HK$5.23 million for a 5-day total of HK$20.71 million. I don’t anticipating this thing slowing down soon, so it should pass the HK$40 million mark. However, also note that this gross is after ticket price inflation of HK$10 and a ticket for the IMAX showing cost double the usual ticket. Again, number of admissions, in my mind, is the true measure of success, but they don’t roll like that in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Die Hard 4 is actually still bringing in the audiences (good word-of-mouth?), grossing another HK$840,000 on what is officially its second weekend (though it’s actually its third, thanks to a full week of “previews”) from 36 screens for a 18-day total of HK$15.6 million. Shrek 3, on the other hand, lost a ton of business to Harry Potter and made only HK$400,000 from 33 screens for an 18-day total of HK$19.8 million.

The top Hong Kong performer this weekend is still Hooked On You, making a so-so HK$250,000 on 19 screens for an 18-day total of HK$8.74 million. The question everyone that cares is asking is whether Hooked On You will pass the HK$10 million mark. With HK$1.25 million to go, I’m personally not expecting it to happen, but it’ll get pretty close. Wonder Women continues its slow fading process with only HK$90,000 on 9 screens (it’s already down to two to three shows a day in most theatres) for an 11-day total of just HK$1.36 million. This weekend, I’m not just expecting, but really hoping that Invisible Targets would do well. Pretty please?

- Transformers (reviewed in the Podcast today) broke the opening day record for a foreign film in China and also had a very impressive weekend overall.

- Elsewhere, Japan had a national holiday on Monday, so no box office figures or drama ratings have come in yet. We might get to it tomorrow.

- Just like the movie business in Hong Kong, even Universal music is now turning to China to make more bucks.

- Loft, known to be Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s crappier film from the past year, is now on an English-subtitled Malaysian DVD. Watch at your own risk.

- The Korean film Public Enemy was a critical and commercial success, which led to its not-so-critically successful sequel Another Public Enemy. Apparently, director Kang Woo-Suk doesn’t know how to take a hint, and now he’s making a third movie. At least the good news is that Sol Kyung-Ku will return to his role as a corrupted detective from the first film.

- After Sonny Chiba made a sudden announcement last week on television that he is to quit acting, he finally explains it all at a press conference. Apparently, he doesn’t plan to retire entirely, but rather cut back and turn to doing other things instead. Hey, I’d join the Thousand Leaves Hollywood school just to ask him how he killed a bull and a bear with Karate.

- Turns out the reason for 20th Century Fox not selling their remake rights for Prison Break isn’t really their doing - The Writers Guild of America have policies that prohibits studios from selling their shows to China for remakes (is this ONLY for China, or what?). Nevertheless, Can’t Fox still sue the production company if they actually register the name?

- Anti-smoking groups in China are complaining that the drama New Shanghai Bund (based on the classic Hong Kong drama Shanghai Bund) features too much smoking. These guys should just light one up and chill.

- The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Han Sang-Jun by Korea Pop War’s own Mark Russell. Han is overseeing his first Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival after the controversy last year, but the festival seems to be back to running smoothly this year.

- There was also a panel with several young Korean directors about the recession of the Korean wave and trying to offere possible ways to stabilization.

- TV Asahi is adapting the novel Hanochi for a drama special (or a mini-series). The novel was already adapted in 2004 for film, and it even won best film and best actor at the Japanese Academy Awards. However, the drama is to make some alterations from the novel and the film. Hell, at least they waited a couple of years.

- The historical Queen’s Theatre in Hong Kong is closing down, continuing to signal the death of a golden age in Hong Kong cinema. Now, theatregoers mostly favor multiplexs in malls over single screen theatres such as this. There are still, however, a few older single-screen theatres in Hong Kong, but who knows how long they’ll last.

- One of the things I hate most about Japan are street scouts. Stationed on busy streets in neighborhoods like Shinjuku and Shibuya, these men harass women that they think might be suited to join adult business (or the AV industry as well?) and would pretty much be on them like flies on sweets until they reach the train station or they show any interest. Now TV Asahi is making a drama about what is probably one of the crappiest professions in all of Japan.

- When a Hollywood film fails, they tend to have international gross to try and salvage back the rest of the budget. But now the family comedy Evan Almighty, infamously known as the most expensive comedy ever made, can’t even rely on Japan, one of Hollywood’s largest markets. That’s because the Japanese distributor canceled the theatrical release altogether.

- According to writer/director David Goyer, director Alex Proyas is going back to cult favorite sci-fi film Dark City for a brand-new special edition. I myself like Dark City as well, but I wonder if it really needs such an edition.

- Robert De Niro is putting on his ethnographic glasses to produce a film about the Chinese Revolution in 1949 told through the eyes of one of the few foreigners in the country. Not to be a man of little faith, but I predict this is going to suck already.

The Golden Rock - July 15th, 2007 Edition

I couldn’t find the time to record and edit the Podcast today, so it’ll most likely come tomorrow.

- Kenichi Matsuyama got his big break playing the eccentric detective L in the Death Note movies, but except for scoring his own spin-off film, he has found little success beyond the successful franchise. For instance, his drama Sexy Voice and Robo crashed and burned in the ratings, and his last starring role in the indie film Shindou didn’t even attract the audience to make it a successful indie film. Sadly, his latest film Dolphin Blue continues his slump at the box office. On 100 screens, Dolphin Blue opened with only 25 million yen for only a 250,000 yen per-screen average. His last challenge, and the one most likely to resuscitate his popularity, is the Death Note spin-off L. If even that doesn’t bring back to audiences, he can kiss his leading man status goodbye pretty soon after that.

- Meanwhile, the biggest release in Japan this holiday weekend, next to the Harry Potter previews, is Saiyuki, the film adaptation of the TV drama based on the famous Chinese tale Journey From the West. Apparently, its release on 461 screens is the widest release ever for a Japanese film (even the Death Note sequel got only a comparatively moderate 362 screen-release), and distributor Toho somehow pinpointed on predicting the film would make 5.9 billion yen. Maybe? Judging from the trailer, I’m leaning towards “maybe not.”

- A week or two ago I wrote about the first Disney Chinese production about to open in China. After two weeks, The Magic Gourd has done rather well, already having attract 750,000 admissions for a 16 million yuan total so far. With the weekend gross dropping very slowly, this movie might overtake Protege as the highest-grossing Chinese film of the year. Thus continues Disney’s plan of global domination….

- After the Japan Society in New York’s own Japanese film festival, the Korea Society has announced the lineup for their own Korean Film Festival. However, the lineup just simply isn’t as exciting as the recent Asian film events in New York. Secret Sunshine isn’t even on there.

- Two Chinese directors have just finished documentaries that are worth noting, but for different reasons: First, Jia Zhangke has already finished his follow-up to his award-winning narrative film Still Life and companion documentary Dong with Wu Yong, a documentary about the path of fashion from the assembly line to the catwalk. The other is a documentary on the Yasukuni Shrine by unknown Chinese filmmaker Li Ying, who filmed at the controversial Japanese Shrine for over a decade. It’s a brave attempt at what seems to be an unbiased view at a subject that has caused such strong emotions in China.

- This weekend, the long-awaited Hong Kong action film Invisible Target finally comes out, and there’s a new poster out to further whet your appetite.

- Reviews from the Daily Yomiuri this weekend include the animated omnibus film Genius Party and three of this season’s Japanese dramas.

- Speaking of TV in Japan, the American cartoon Spongebob Squarepants (heard of it, never watch it) has caught on after arriving on the public television NHK network. And it’s not even the kids that are loving it.

- The next “city” omnibus film to follow Paris je t’aime is, as reported previously, Tokyo! (That’s the title. And I know that a New York I Love You is on the way as well). In addition to the three directors involved - Michel Gondry, Leo Cerax, and Boon Joon-Ho - there’s also more information about the films, courtesy of Tokyograph.

- I wrote about Twitch’s coverage of the film The Wonder Years, about a young girl’s search for a rock star she presumes to be her mother, a while ago. Turns out the movie flopped at the box office, and it’s coming to DVD with a mere 6-week theatrical-to-DVD window.

- The Motion Pictures Association continues to stick their nose into Asia’s business by helping Japan in a campaign to stop Peer-to-peer downloading.

- Get ready to start looking around eBay, because a thief just stole about 25,000 yen worth of clothes from the set that was used for the hit Japanese film Tokyo Tower. The set remained opened for public visitors after the film finished shooting.

- Yuki Tanada, whose last film credit is apparently the screenplay for Sakuran, signed award-winning actress Yu Aoi on for her latest directorial effort Hayakumanen to Nigamushi Onna, about a girl who flees from home to save up money after she was convicted of a crime.

The Golden Rock - July 10th, 2007 Edition

Seems like I accidentally used this title for yesterday’s Song of the Day, my apologies.

- The Japan box office numbers are out on Box Office Mojo….kind of. They have a bunch of numbers and percentages, but I’m guessing that because not all the distributors delivered their numbers, so the rankings are somewhat incomplete. The only conclusions I can make out is that 1) No film took a real big hit. Not even Pirates of the Caribbean, which just would. not. go. away. and 2) Confession of Pain preformed pretty disappointingly, despite the presence of Takeshi Kaneshiro. Is he just not that popular in Japan?

On the arthouse side, the Finnish film Lights in the Dark by Aki Kurismaki. The only reasons I’m writing about the performance of this film are 1) it actually looks really interesting, and 2) The advertising suggests that director Kurismaki has some kind of small following in Japan. Anyway, the 2006 Cannes contender opened in one small theatre in Shibuya on the 7th, and attracted 703 admissions for an even 1 million yen gross on the opening day. With a capacity of 145 and 5 shows a day, that means each show had an average capacity of 97%, which is pretty damn good.

- Lovehkfilm has a couple of new reviews - The Milkyway “Handover commemoration” comedy-drama Hooked On You, the Barbara Wong-directed official “Handover film” Wonder Women, plus a review of A Ball Shot By a Midget (don’t let the name turn you off, it’s really pretty good) and Resurrection of Golden Wolf by yours truly.

- MTV and EMI asks all Asian songwriters and aspiring directors: “Are you proud to be Chinese?” I certainly hope this song isn’t the winner.

- Despite bad word-of-mouth pretty much anywhere it played, Studio Ghibli’s Tales From Earthsea managed to sell 147,000 copies the first week and is the best first-week sales of any animated DVD this year.

- After Tokyo International Film Festival found a new programmer, the AFI festival in Los Angeles found themselves a new artistic director too.

- Even though it’s easy to attack the Hong Kong print media for spending most of their pages on celebrity gossips, you can actually find some little pieces of news that matter. For example, while this report is about Hong Kong stars Gigi Leung and Lau Ching-Wan having to lose weight for their respective upcoming film roles, you also learn that Wai Ka-Fai is making a new movie starring Lau as a blind man this August.

- The hit drama Nodame Cantabile is coming back for a two-part drama special in January. Next stop: the movie? For those people in Hong Kong that hasn’t downloaded it yet (I’m sure there are a few of you out there), this will be showing on TVB in August.

- TV Tokyo is under fire for biased reporting of the upcoming elections for the House of Councilors. News agenda exists, but I doubt that TV Tokyo is the only TV station that has it.

- Hollywood continues their formulaic filmmaking by finding ways to either continuing franchises or starting new ones. I swear, I’ll never watch another Harry Potter film if they manage to just make one up out of thin air.

- MK Pictures, most well-known for producing Korean director Kang Je-Gyu’s Shiri and Taegukgi (if you know Korean films, you should know these films anyway), has been bought up by cable TV. One of the people who sold his shares? Kang Je-Gyu.

- The promotion for Wilson Yip’s Flash Point has started in Hong Kong, and is it quite possible that they’re centering the promotion on Louis Koo? No way, Donnie Yen’s bus is probably right behind it, probably with a larger close-up too.

- I totally missed it when it got reported on Tokyograph, but the troubled Yubari Film Festival is finally coming back in March.

The Golden Rock - July 9th, 2007 Edition

- In the Sunday box office numbers from Hong Kong, Hollywood films split the box office booty as Die Hard 4.0 wins the day with HK$1.64 million on 51 screens for a so-called “4-day total” (it already had a week of previews) of HK$11.46 million. Not far behind is Shrek 3, which played on the same amount of screens and made another HK$1.59 million for a 11-day total of HK$17.25 million. Farther behind is the handover commemoration film from Milkyway Hooked on You, which is still going relatively strong by making HK$600,000 on 30 screens for a per-screen average of HK$20,000. After 11 days, the Miriam Yeung/Eason Chan starrer has made HK$7.1 million, and might even cross the champagne-worthy HK$10 million mark.

Meanwhile, this week’s Hong Kong opener Wonder Women, which opened on a lackluster 12 screens, bounced back a little bit from its soft opening to make HK$210,000 for a 4-day total of HK$660,000. Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse segment Planet Terror made only HK$180,000 on 15 screens for a 4-day total of HK$840,000. This would probably be because of the subject matter and the category-III rating (no one under 18 admitted). On its 20th day of release, Hong Kong comedy Simply Actors made HK$140,000 on 20 screens for a HK$9.13 million average. It’s not very likely this will pass the HK$10 million mark. Lastly, Julie Delpy’s Two Days in Paris continues to play strongly on its 4-screen limited release, making HK$70,000 for an 11-day total of HK$70,000.

US$1=HK$7.8

This week, the Harry Potter movie opens in Hong Kong, which pushes everything out of the way. This one is especially big because it’ll be the first major IMAX film to play in Hong Kong’ spanking-new IMAX theater, and lines for advanced tickets have already gotten quite huge.

- In South Korea, Transformers remained very very strong, losing only 2% in total market shares this past weekend. It’s also looking to break the attendance record for a foreign film, which was set by the final Lord of the Rings film at 6 million (Tranformers has already hit 4.2 mil). For how everything else is doing, check out Korea Pop Wars.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Reporter beats a dead horse on the declining local film industry in Korea.

- In Japan audience rankings, just about every film stays where they are, except for the entry of Dolphin Blue starring Kenichi Matsuyama at number 7 and Andrew Lau/Alan Mak’s Confession of Pain at only number 8. More numbers tomorrow from Box Office Mojo.

- In Japan drama ratings (yes, a majority of the Summer 2007 season has started), Fuji’s comic adaptation Hana Gi Kari No Kimi Tachi He (which, like Hana Yori Dango, was first made into a successful live-action drama in Taiwan) started ok with a 15.9 rating (roughly 10.3 million viewers). That’s lower than the premiere for TBS’ Hana Yori Dango, which opened with an 18.3 rating back in fall 2005. TBS’ Jigoku No Sata Mo Yome Shitai, which sounds eerily similar to the TV Asahi drama Erai Tokoro Ni Toide Shimatta, premiered with only a 13.7 rating (roughly 8.9 million viewers) up directly against TV Asahi’s third installment of Kikujiro to Saki (based on Takeshi Kitano’s childhood), which premiered with an even weaker 10.9 rating (roughly 7.1 million viewers).

By request, the Misaki Ito/Kyoko Fukada Fuji Thursday drama Yama Onna Kabe Onna does OK with a 14.1 premiere (Last season drama in that time slot, Watashi Tachi No Kyokasho, premiered with a 14.2 rating), scoring roughly 9.2 million viewers. At the same time slot is TBS’ Katagoshi No Koibito, which premiered with a 10.2 rating (roughly 6.6 million viewers, which is even lower than last season’s ratings poison Kodoku no Kake). The highest-rated debut this season so far is TBS’ Yamada Taro Monogatari, which stars two members of Arashi and takes up the old Hana Yori Dango timeslot. It premiered with a 17.4 rating (roughly 11.3 million viewers). The two dramas that are already in their second weeks , Fuji’s Life (their second in the successful Saturday 11pm time slot) and Papa To Musume No Nanakakan, are both holding up well. Life actually saw an increase in viewership, going from the premiere’s 11.0 rating to this past week’s 11.7 rating (roughly 7.6 million viewers). However, it’s still performing weaker than last season’s surprise hit Liar Game. On the other hand, Papa To Musume No Nanakakan, which was praised by the Daily Yomiuri this past weekend, saw only a small drop from 14.0 to 12.8 (roughly 8.3 million viewers) for its second episode.

Whew. I’m covering less drama ratings next week. Just leave a comment if you want me to cover a specific drama.

All Summer 2007 drama information here.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog, Derek Kwok’s The Pye-Dog, which was supposed to be released back in May, is now eyeing a September release date. However, someone in the comment section writes that it might even be looking at November. The mystery continues.

- In my continuing love for the Japanese government advisory panel that is encouraging wider distribution of Japanese entertainment, they have asked DVD recorder manufacturers to allow the limit for copying programs on DVDs be increased to nine from the current one. In other words, if you recorded something from a digital broadcast, you can only copy it onto a DVD once. Now, that limit is being upped to nine, in case the user fails to burn it completely. This is already after a compromise by the panel, who initially ordered that limit be removed.

- Twitch has a full trailer for Kenneth Bi’s The Drummer. Considering I didn’t like Rice Rhapsody very much, this film is actually looking very promising ever since I started following its production on Bi’s blog.

- Although the launch of the reinvented Bangkok International Film Festival has been a little bumpy, the Bangkok Film Market is going very well, with all the booths on the market floor already taken.

- Jay Chou’s directorial debut Secrets isn’t coming out until the end of this month, so I can’t say whether this is good news or bad news. But apparently Jay found the experience rewarding enough for him to say that he prefers directing over acting. Then again, someone with an ego like Chou probably can’t resist acting in his own films anyway.

- The New York Asian Film Festival (who I named one of the winners of the week in the Podcast) has ended, and Memories of Matsuko ended up taking the audience award!

- Twitch has a review of Invisible City, the Singaporean documentary that I wrote about two weeks ago.

- Lastly, my feature article about Hong Kong filmmakers that emerged in the last ten years is up. My most sincere thanks (and apologies) to the Yesasia editorial team for their work to get it to its current form.

The Golden Rock - July 7th, 2007 Edition

- This week, Japan Times reviews the Ryuichi Hiroki(who also made Vibrator) film Koisuru Nichiyoubi - Koi Shita (Thanks to Ryuganji for the link this week, because it wasn’t found from the Japan Times film review listing for some reason). Made under a project for the satellite channel BS-i, the film is currently playing at a Shibuya theatre. However, it actually opened last month at another theater in Shinjuku already, and only saw 1025 admissions/1.37 million yen. Since the theater has a capacity of 330, that means the shows aren’t even half-full on average. However, unlike other television-financed blockbusters, the experimental project is meant to show off new talents with commercial genres.

- Meanwhile, the Daily Yomiuri have reviews of Andrew Lau/Alan Mak’s Confession of Pain (which opens this weekend in Japan with a better trailer, despite some inaccurate subtitles. Japan Times also reviews it, though reviewer Kaori Shoji incorrectly identifies Andrew Lau as the sole director.), Pedro Almodovar’s Volver, and of course - the new Harry Potter movie, which seems to be drawing the most negative reviews of the series. They also give a very enthusiastic review for the new drama “Papa To Musume No Nanakakan,” which seems more like a idea stolen from Walt Disney’s 1976 film Freaky Friday (it was even remade a few years ago, so the TBS guys have no excuse)

- I found a very interesting Chinese blog on Hong Kong cinema that covers everything from films to theaters to ticket inflation. Recently, the blogger looked at why Simply Actors (starring Jim Chim and Charlene Choi) did so much business its opening week, except for the fact that it opened on a public holiday. Turns out the promotional campaign includes three different types of HK$10 off coupons that are good for different days of the opening week, which may mean lower box office gross, but also means more incentive for people to go to the theater. It’s even cheaper than buying a VCD, for crying out loud.

- In DVD news, the Japanese comic adaptation film Nana 2, which flopped pretty horribly at the box office last winter, is coming to an English-subtitled Hong Kong region 3 DVD on July 12th. Also, the DVD for Han Jae-Rim’s The Show Must Go On is coming to Korean region 3 DVD on July 19th.

- Prepare to see Yoji Yakusho everywhere when you head off to the Japan International Contents Festival this fall, because the actor has been chosen as the face of the festival.

- Alexi Tan’s Blood Brothers, also produced by John Woo and Terence Chang, is slates to have its world premiere as the closing film at the Venice Film Festival in September. But what is this whole thing about it being a remake of Woo’s Bullet in the Head?

- In the first half of 2007, Korean cinema took up only a 47.3% share of the total theatrical market at home, which is its lowest since 2001. In comparison, Korean films took a 60% market share in 2006. I’ve said before, plenty of countries outside the United States would kill for that kind of numbers. Yes, even the 47.3 % one.

- Considering that it’s over on Monday, this news is a little late, but this year’s Taipei International Film Festival seems to have the largest Chinese cinema lineup in all of Asia. It even has Hou Hsiao-Hsien sitting on top!

Tomorrow, Podcast and more and more news.

The Golden Rock - July 5th, 2007 Edition

- Director Satoshi Miki’s The Insects Unlisted in the Encyclopedia (review by Japan Times, and more info from Ryuganji) first got attention because it’s Oscar nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi’s first post-Oscar role (more on her later). But as the release date approached, the film picked up attention due to its director. Miki Satoshi got his start on TV doing variety shows. While he made his film debut in 2005, he went back to TV, writing and directing the cult favorite drama Jikou Keisatsu. At least it was popular enough to bring it back for a second run this past Spring season, and it became the most “satisfying” drama of the season (trust me, those rankings held up throughout the season, although the ranking came from right after its start). The popularity of the show has now come to explain the film’s relative success at one Tokyo theater. Opening on June 23rd, the opening day drew 772 admissions and grossed 1.19 million yen(4 shows a day, with a capacity of 218). For the entire week, it drew 2842 admissions, grossing 4.17 million yen at that theater alone. Even though it’s nowhere near full capacity, this is still better than Miki’s debut film Into the Pool.

- In addition to Insects, Rinko Kikuchi also stars in a new “web movie” for a popular cosmetics brand. However, the idea itself is better than the actual film, and try not to let Rinko’s hair distract you too much.

- In “Who cares Hollywood hasn’t sold us the rights yet?” news today, China’s Zonbo Media is going ahead with production for the Chinese version of the American series Prison Break, except 1) The production company states that it has nothing to do with the hit Fox series, and 2) Fox has denied ever selling the rights to China, even though Zonbo Media said they bought it. Huh…..

- The Bangkok International Film Festival, who hit yet another snag when the government took away its opening film Persepolis to maintain friendly relations with Iran and stave off the Muslim insurgency, decided to put in the Children of Glory as its new opening film. Apparently it’s about “the bloodiest water polo match in history.” What?

- Kenji Uchida, who made a brilliant debut with Unmei Janai Hito (Stranger of Mine), is moving on up with his follow-up film After School, about a teacher who searches for her childhood friend with a private detective. Just started shooting last week, the film has 7 times the budget of Stranger of Mine, though it’s still at a fairly small 180 million yen.

- The first Kansai Film Festival is starting late next month. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make a film about the Kansai region to get in, you just have to be a foreign director making a film in or about Japan.

- In DVD news today, Twitch announces the pre-order for the South Korean sleeper hit Paradise Murdered, and the Hong Kong editions for Japanese films Retribution and Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea.

- I should have seen this coming. Fuji Television, who managed to milk the novel Tokyo Tower for all its worth by making a made-for-TV movie, a 11-episode drama, and a hit movie, is now bringing the 11 billion yen-hit family drama Bizan(review by Hollywood Reporter) to TV. Starring Takako Tokiwa, Bizan the mini-series will start shooting at the end of the month with no broadcasting date set.

- The South Korean theatre chain Megabox just opened its first multiplex in China, and plans to open two more in Bejing. Sorry, I’m just a nerd for theatre openings everywhere.

- Associated Press’s entertainment writer Min Lee reviews the new Milkyway thriller Eye in the Sky.

- The Cinefan festival in India is putting a focus on Japanese and Arabic films this year, including a tribute to director Kenji Mizoguchi.

- I posted a long time ago that even Japanese music tend to copy each other, but I couldn’t even find the songs. Now I have - check out Porno Graffiti’s Sister, Undergraph’s Tsubasa, and BoA’s Everlasting. I posted these in the order of the release - one copies the same musical pattern, and the other copies the chorus of another. All three were pop hits, and all three are kind of crappy. Then again, the point is that it happens everywhere.

The Golden Rock - June 30th, 2007 Edition

- I’m obliged to start every entry with some box office news, and this one is no exception. Remember a month and a half ago I mentioned about the success of the indie film Ahini to Kamo No Coin Locker’s limited release in Sendai (Tokyo Times review)? The film has been playing in one Tokyo theater since last weekend, and it’s a genuine hit. In its first weekend, the film made 3.68 million yen, attracting 2192 admissions total. Even last-minute added late shows were completely full in the 232-people theater. Good for them.

- Also playing at the same theater is the haunting documentary The Bridge, which examines why people commit suicide through the examination of several people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve seen parts of the film when it played on the Independent Film Channel, and anyone looking for shocking footage of people jumping (the crew shot the sides of the bridge for an entire year) will be disappointed because it’s really more about the effects of depression through interviews with friends and family. Anyway, Japan Times has a review of it, as well as an interview with filmmaker Eric Steel.

- Japan Times also has a review of the animated omnibus film Genius Party, featuring seven animated films from established talents not named Miyazaki, Otomo, and Oshii. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about it, so I’ll let Japan Times do that for me.

Lastly, Japan Times also has a review of Kichitaro Negishi’s Side Car Ni Inu starring Yuko Takeuchi.

- Then The Daily Yomiuri reviews the deceptively j-horror-looking thriller Kissho Tennyo, which features a really creepy-looking Anne Suzuki. Click on 予告編 to see the trailer.

- Legendary Hong Kong comic actor Michael Hui, who made a comeback of sorts with Joe Ma’s Three of a Kind (would his cameo in Fantasia count as the start of his comeback?) is making his first film since 1992’s The Magic Touch this October. He openly praised Miriam Yeung, Louis Koo, and Lau Ching-Wan for their comedic skills, though he has not expressed any wish to cast them. As long as it’s better than the immensely disappointing Three of a Kind, I’ll show up.

Original Chinese report here.

- The first Hong Kong film to be in the HD-format war (HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray) is……[drum rolls]Infernal Affairs, and it’s coming on Blu-Ray. I’m sure the film will look nice, but I remember through my subsequent visits on DVD that aurally it’s just really unnecessarily loud.

- Kim Ji-Woon’s Western The Good, the Bad and The Weird ran into a bit of trouble when distributor/investor Showbox (The Host) dropped out. Good thing CJ Entertainment has now taken over for the US$11 million film. Strange, I thought Showbox made a ton of money last year on The Host, so why would they have particular trouble investing in this movie?

- Man, those Japanese really know how to sell a movie. Their website for the disappointing Confession of Pain is up, and the url is www.drywhisky.com (trust me, you’ll get it when you see the movie). Hell, they even make the trailer look better than the Hong Kong one by incorporating actual music from the film….well, except for that ridiculous theme song by Ayumi Hamasaki. But the movie is partly funded by Avex (Hamasaki’s record company), so whatever. Man, that trailer actually make me want to see the movie.

- Oh, no, China doesn’t want porn on its internet!!!! No “unpatriotic words,” no foreign news source, and now no porn? Soon they’re going to be able to make a list of what they DO allow on the internet.

- In addition to Tokyograph’s Summer 2007 drama preview, Daily Yomiuri has their own preview of the upcoming season, and they don’t just write about dramas. Did you know Billy “Tae Bo” Blanks is now a hit in Japan?

- Lastly, but very certainly not the least, Shinji Nakae, most famous in recent years as the narrator for the Japanese variety program Trivia No Izumi (Fountain of Trivia), has passed away at the age of 73. His narration, to me, was the perfect match for the silly deadpan humor of the show, and he will be very much missed.

 
 
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