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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The Golden Rock - November 14th, 2008 Edition

Sorry for the extended break. Here’s a weekend edition to tie you over.

- 7 movies were released yesterday in Hong Kong for a very crowded box office charts - two wide releases (over 20 screens), and five limited releases. The best performer is Tsui Siu-Ming’s “everyone-stunning” martial arts epic Champions, which ironically did not get first place. Instead, it made a somewhat surprising HK$425,000 from 36 screens (surprising because everyone I talked to was wondering why I even bothered), and is looking to top HK$2 million over the weekend, behind Quantum of Solace.

Even more surprising is the 3D horror film Scar, which opened only on eight screens, but made HK$393,000 on opening day. Worth noting is that ticket prices are almost doubled because of the 3D format, but the opening remains impressive for a limited release.

The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading, which got just about no promotion before its opening, opened on 20 screens with HK$156,000. The American indie film Bella opened on 8 screens and made an OK HK$70,000. It’ll likely get a boost from the adult audience over the weekend. On the other hand, no boost can help the dance film Make it Happen, which made just HK$27,800 from 17 screens. The distributor should’ve probably gotten a clue when it got sent straight to DVD in America. Lastly, Death Defying Acts opened on 4 screens and made HK$25,000.

Takashi Miike’s Crows Zero quietly opened on one screen, and naturally did not make it to the top 10. More on Monday when the numbers are out.

- Wong Jing was all over Hong Kong’s newspapers today. China’s Affluence Pictures, which Wong owns 10% of and was previously called the Wong Jing Film Workshop, lost a lawsuit over My Kung Fu Sweetheart because the company released the film’s VCD in China only seven days after the theatrical release, as opposed to the 15 stated in their contract with the investors.

- It’s trailers time! First up is Sion Sono’s seemingly whacked out “pure love” epic Love Exposure. I’m not just calling it whacked because of what’s in the trailer, but also because the movie runs a crazy 237 minutes. It’s even a selling point in the trailer!

Next is the first trailer for John Woo’s Red Cliff Part II, which I hope will be two and a half hours of money shots after Part I nicely set up the stakes (though the film itself is somewhat underwhelming). The release date is now set on January 15th, 2009 in Hong Kong, which means it’ll go up against Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea and Vincent Kuk’s All’s Well That Ends Well 2009. It’s going to be an interesting Lunar New Year.

Lastly, Youtube has the full trailer for Ryoichi Kimizuka’s Nobody to Watch Over Me, which won the Best Screenplay Award at the Montreal World Film Festival. This movie is also worth noting because Kimizuka is the man who penned the Bayside Shakedown TV drama, its two ultra-hit films, and the one underwhelming spin-off.

- After several high-profile PR blunders, the Chinese Ministry of Culture announces that it will punish artists who lip-sync to replace singing at public events. One of these high-profile blunders was the use of a cuter young girl at the Olympic opening ceremony when an unnamed senior government official deemed the original singer “too ugly”.

- Meanwhile, a different Chinese government department, the State Authority of Radio, Film, and Television, took Hong Kong’s Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook and cut over 10 minutes out of it after a certain section of the film feature gangsters getting out of Mainland China unharmed and unarrested. Because you know, there are no gangsters in China. The oft-delayed film will now open in Hong Kong on January 1st, on the same day as Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled. No word which version of the film will be shown in Hong Kong.

- In Thailand, audiences will be able to celebrate Christmas with Tony Jaa, as the troubled Ong Bak 2 is almost completed and set to be released in Thailand on December 5th. After Japanese and American distributors pulled their distribution deals in light of the production troubles, it’s now time for producers to go on heavy-duty damage control.

The Golden Rock - November 6th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2008 Edition

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

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to real news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - October 26th, 2008 Edition

Four more films to go at the HKAFF - Today is Claustrophobia and The Window is Yours, another PIA Film Festival film after yesterday’s Mime Mime and the PIA Film Festival talk.

- It’s looking to be a more active weekend at the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Tropic Thunder opened on top on Thursday with HK$531,000 from 31 screens. However, it’s not going to top the weekend box office, as the Hong Kong Film blog reports that High School Musical 3, which didn’t open until Friday here, opened with HK$1.15 million and will lead theweekend box office by a very large margin.

Even though a total of six films opened this weekend, only one other film got on the top 10 on Thursday, and that’s the film version of the TV drama Kurosagi. From just 3 screens, the swindler drama made HK$32,000 and will do relatively well for it’s limited number of screens. On the other hand, both Jacob Cheung’s Ticket and the Korean film A Man Who Was Superman opened on five screens, while Wushu - The Young Generation opened on 14 screens. None of them made more than HK$30,000 to get on Thursday’s top 10. I don’t expect to see them on Monday, either.

-The Japanese film Departures, which won the top prize at the Montreal World Film Festival and will represent Japan at the Academy Awards, has become a surprise hit for distributor Shochiku. It has now recorded more than 2 million admissions and made nearly 2.5 billion yen with no signs of dropping out of the top 10 soon.

Box Office Mojo has caught up with the Japan box office numbers, so it’s a good time to look at how other films are doing. Departures lost only 31% of its past weekend’s gross in its 6th week, and it’s the smallest drop in the top 10. The biggest drop goes to Wanted, which lost 55% in its 5th week. Even though Suspect X was on top for the 3rd weekend in a row, it lost nearly 40% of business, although this is fairly normal after a holiday weekend. Also worth noticing is that the box office has gotten so quiet that 3rd place film P.S. I Love You’s gross is 215% of the 4th place Departures. Also very depressing is the second weekend of Warner Bros.’ Get Smart, which saw a two-thirds drop in its second weekend and out of the top 10. Ouch.

- The Tokyo Film Festival Market has wrapped up on Friday, and while things didn’t match the excitement of opening day, organizers (at leasy Variety) were very happy, especially since so may buyers decided to skip the Asian Film Market in Pusan.

Meanwhile, Friend of Golden Rock Jason Gray was in the middle of it all, and posts the second part of his report on his blog.

Also, The Golden Rock will be offering a more personal perspective on the world of film market pitching hopefully next week. No worries, I’m not the one doing the pitching.

- The Pang Brothers have directed and produced 8 released movies under Universe since for 4 years. Now expect 10 more years and at least 2 confirmed films.

- China’s Huayi Brothers has announced a set of four films by major directors - Tsui Hark, Feng Xiaogang, Jack Neo, and Chen Kuo-Fu. Not sure if I’m excited about any of them, though.

- Earlier I reported that Red Cliff female lead Lin Chi-Ling signed on to be in Beverly Hills Ninja 2, which is set to be shot in Korea. However, Lin has now dropped out of the film, which now makes David Hasselhoff the biggest star on the film. As cool as the Hoff is, I’m not surprised if the Korean investors are now reconsidering the whole thing. Or they can always cast Vicky Zhao, the other Red Cliff female star.

- It’s reviews time! This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews 90-year old veteran art director Takeo Kimura’s first film Yume no Mani Mani, which is playing at this Tokyo theater. Is that Asano in the trailer?  Variety’s Derek Elley looks at two Korean films - the hit period film The Divine Weapon and Choi Ho’s 70s music film Go Go 70s.

- Kind of like a review is this week’s Teleview column on the Daily Yomiuri, which looks at the Kyoka Suzuki-led drama Scandal.

- If you’re a Spongebob fan in China, start rejoicing: CCTV is bringing back 30 episodes of the popular American animated series after its last airing in December 2007.

- It’s a good weekend for Japanese trailers: Nippon Cinema brings us the trailers for the Takeshi Kaneshiro-starring action film K-20 and the latest “animal doing human jobs” film Neko Ramen Taisho, about a cat that becomes a ramen chef. Brilliant!

- The Asia Pacific Screen Awards, to be given out in Australia next month, has picked its competition jury.

- Japanese-American pop singer melody. has suddenly announced her retirement as a music artist, deciding that she will follow her dream to become a clothes designer. Her last high-profile job was the host of NHK’s English-language, oversea-aimed music show J-Melo, which presents Japanese pop music videos every week.

The Golden Rock - October 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 - October 19th, 2008 Edition

A quick entry before going off for another film at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival (tonight it’s Kenji Uchida’s After School).

- Judging from Thursday opening day box office numbers in Hong Kong, it’s looking to be a rather quiet weekend when the numbers come out tomorrow. Mirrors, the Hollywood remake of the Korean film Into the Mirror, opened on top with HK$275,000 from 31 screens. The new Wong Jing-produced horror film The Vampire Who Admires Me managed to make HK$202,000 from 27 screens, but it would be a miracle if it even makes it to HK$2 million. The Hollywood thriller Awake made HK$49,000 from 13 screens, and Accuracy of Death made an OK HK$25,000 from just 3 screens. More tomorrow with the weekend numbers.

-Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin has now passed the 200 million yuan mark at the Chinese box office, placing it along the ranks of The Warlords and Red Cliff, except it’s not as good.

- Just before the temporary relaxed regulations for foreign journalists in China during the Olympics was due to expire, the Chinese authorities decided to extend those regulations. However, nothing has changed for domestic journalist, and Chinese nationals are still not allowed to be full-time correspondants for foreign networks.

- First Cuts, the project created by Andy Lau’s Focus Group to find young talents, has announced the first four filmmakers for the second stage of the project, which will now set its sights mainly in the Mainland Chinese market. The first project’s biggest success was Crazy Stone, by Mainland Chinese director Ning Hao. The first project also featured films from Malaysia and Lam Chi-Chung’s I’ll Call You. Too bad Lam followed it with The Luckiest Man.

- The Tokyo Drama Award, part of the International Drama Festival during the Japan CoFesta, has given out its first prizes. The grand prize went to two dramas - drama special Ten to Sen and made-for-cable drama Pandora. Believe it or not, Last Friends, which deals with domestic violence, gender identity crisis, and even incest, won Kids and Youth category.

- Speaking of CoFesta, the event’s major event - The Tokyo International Film Festival  - is underway with John Woo’s Red Cliff as the opening film. Japan’s Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the festival this weekend.

- And speaking of Japanese dramas, The Daily Yomiuri’s Televiews column for this week looks at this season’s newest dramas, all of which are potential contenders for next year’s Tokyo Drama Awards.

- With the Korean film industry experiencing a downturn this year, companies are seeing the chance in filling the screens with films that have been sitting on their shelves instead of investing in new productions.

- This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the indie horror film Peeping Tom (Makiguri no Ana).

- Lastly, Variety finally mentions that Korean pop star BoA is venturing into the American music market.

The Golden Rock - October 8th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

More at Tokyograph

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

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

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

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

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

OK, bring on the Tokyo CoFesta!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - October 6th, 2008 Edition

Sorry about that little extended break. It’s been kind of a crazy half-week.

- Who didn’t expect Painted Skin (with DONNNNNIIIIEEEE!) to be on the top of the Hong Kong box office anyway? From 37 screens, the fantasy-martial arts hybrid romance made HK$1.03 million from 37 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$4.09 million. HOWEVER, and I didn’t report this for the opening day report because…..well, I fell asleep while writing, HK$350,000 of that money was supposedly from those advance screenings that no one could buy ticket to and no one was staffing at.

Connected had a strong second weekend, making HK$751,000 from 40 screens for a 11-day total of HK$8.83 million. With another public holiday in Hong Kong this week, it’s pretty reasonable to predict that this film will go over the HK$10 milliom mark. The British film The Duchess had a very strong weekend on limited release. On only 7 screens, the historical drama made HK$140,000 on Sunday for a 5-day total of HK$810,000, including preview showings last weekend. On the other hand, the Storm Riders: Clash of Evils flopped badly over the weekend, making just HK$66,000 from 26 screens on Sunday for a 5-day weekend total of HK$400,000. In fact, it’s done so bad that some theaters on the Newport Circuit decided to bring back Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks for one showing a day, even though Storm Riders was supposed to replace it on the Newport Circuit.

Speaking of Sex and Chopsticks, it’s still playing on 13 screens as of Sunday, when it made HK$33,000. After 17 days, the cat-III softcore porn has made HK$2.9 million. In relative terms, this is a success for the people involved. Eagle Eye isn’t quite performing in HK as well as it is in America, making just HK$422,000 from 39 screens for a 11-day take of HK$5.07 million. However, it has surpassed 20th Century Boys, which took an even bigger dip in its second weekend with just HK$326,000 from 32 screens on Sunday for a 11-day take of HK$5.06 million. It’ll end up just matching Hero’s take late last year instead of matching Death Note’s sensational HK$10 million+ takes, which must be a slight disappointment for the distributor.

Mamma Mia has proven itself to be a long-run hit, making another HK$273,000 from 23 screens on Sunday. It now has a 25-day total of HK$10.76 million. Journey to the Center of the Earth is still in the top 10 as well, making HK$58,000 from 6 screens and has now made HK$34.71 million after 53 days.

-In Japan, Suspect X (The film version of the hit TV drama Galileo) opened on top of the Japanese attendance ranking and is expected to earn as much as this year’s hit TV adaptation Hana Yori Dango, if not to the heights of last year’s Hero. Surprisingly, last week’s winner Iron Man dropped all the way to 6th place in its second week, which may make this the second Hollywood superhero flick to underperform at the Japanese box office after The Dark Knight.

- Meanwhile, the Galileo TV special also did very well in the ratings this past weekend, scoring a 20.8% rating. On the other hand, the Rookies‘ special didn’t do nearly as well, with just a 10.0% rating on the same night.

Source: Dramanews.net

- It’s trailers time! From Twitch is the trailer for The Uninvited, the Hollywood remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. The latter was beautifully shot, well-acted, and all in all a rare elegant horror flick that stood out from the down-and-dirty gore crap. The former doesn’t seem to carry any of that. Also, they have a link to the first teaser for Hollywood’s take on Dragonball, which just hurts to watch.

On the Hong Kong films front, The website for Dante Lam’s latest Beast Stalker, starring Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung, has opened and it features the film’s trailer. It might be a nice little crime thriller…or it might be another Heat Team. At least it looks decent. Also, the trailer for Tsui Hark’s Not All Women Are Bad has hit the net. This, on the other hand, doesn’t look close to decent. Then again, I might’ve been wrong before.

Lastly, Nippon Cinema has the trailer to the parody film Homeless ga Chugakusei, which is a take on the upcoming film adaptation of the autobiographical novel The Homeless Chugakusei. It reportedly features a real homeless man.

- Tsui Hark, who’s giving a master class at the Pusan Film Festival, reportedly says that he accepts the burden of censorship from everywhere, saying that it’s something that has to be done to “get better result”.  Blah.

Meanwhile, the Variety Pusan blog has the first part of everything he said in the class.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at what celebrities around the world are up to, including Zhang Ziyi’s latest film and Charlie Yeung reminiscing about Leslie Cheung.

- For all you fans out there waiting for the next Evangelion film, wait longer: The latest film is now set to be released in Japan some time in early Summer 2009.

- Variety looks at the numerous film funds out there for Asian filmmakers, including the Weinstein Asian Film Fund, the RGM fund, and even the latest multi-national Irresistable Films Fund for new filmmakers…….except the company retains final cut, “for the filmmakers’ own good,” of course.

- Despite their upcoming indefinite hiatus, Japanese band Southern All Stars is still as prolific as ever: Two of the band members will appear in the 33-part short drama that are based on their songs.

- Major Japanese TV network TBS is suing North American network ABC because its game show Wipeout features an obstacle course that resembles far too much to TBS’ hit shows “Takeshi’s Castle” and “Sasuke”, as well as other hit obstacle game shows from the 90s that have seen a second life as dubbed shows on American cable networks.

The Golden Rock - October 1st, 2008 Edition

- Mamma Mia finally took the top spot at the Korean box office, bumping The Divine Weapon down two places. Meanwhile, Jeon Do Yeon’s latest My Dear Enemy at 5th place, although it’s already considerably better than the director’s previous work, since it was only on TV.

More from Korea Pop Wars

- In China, where Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin actually did open, it made 15.2 million RMB over the weekend. That’s even better than the opening for The Warlords last year. With the National Day holiday coming, the film is expected to make a ton of cash by the end of the weekend.

Also, today’s Oriental Daily reports that Benny Chan’s Connected is expected to reach the 20 million RMB mark by the end of the holidays.

- Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Film Blog goes back to the one theater in Hong Kong that’s supposedly playing Painted Skin. The blogger notices that the earliest show on Monday morning was at 10:45 am (Which was sold out, apparently), though the first shows for the other films don’t start until after 11:30am. So he went to the cinema to take a look, and finds that there are not even any staff working at the theater yet, let alone audiences to fill the seats.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! SMAP has now become the second Japanese “vocal group” (read: boy band) to sell more than 10 million albums, thanks to the number 1 debut of their latest. Meanwhile, Exile scores a big debut week with their latest single.

More over at Tokyograph

- Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal has a bunch of reviews of films he saw at the Bangkok International Film Festival. In addition, he also wrote an extended review of the four-hour documentary Citizen Juling.

- The parent company of Hong Kong film distributor Media Asia is apparently in so much financial trouble that they may not be releasing any more films this year. This may apply to Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook, which was supposed to be released in September and was postponed indefinitely for “post-production work”.

- Japan Times has a feature on animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, as well as a short history of his Studio Ghibli.

- Poor NHK just can’t get a break for their once-popular morning drama timeslot. Their previous morning drama Hitomi wrapped with a dismal 15.2% average, which is the worst rating ever for an NHK morning drama. Meanwhile, their latest morning drama (starring the stars of one of the highest rating morning dramas in recent years) premiered with only a 16.8% rating, which is the 3rd worst-rated premiere episode in history. Ouch.

- The 2nd Asian Pacific Screen Awards have announced their nominees, with Johnnie To’s Sparrow leading the pack with four nominations. Tokyo Sonata, The Good, The Bad, and the Weird, and The Chaser were also recognized with nominations. The Sparrow is the only Hong Kong representative that received nominations.

- The artist formally known as Sonny Chiba has been appointed as a guest professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. He will be teaching film acting, which will also include lessons on sword fighting. Sounds only like the most awesome film school class ever.

- Since Variety simply has way too many reports from the Pusan International Film Festival, I’ll just link you to the main page with all the reports. Enjoy.

The Golden Rock - September 24th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s first do a quick catch-up of Hong Kong box office numbers. Among the opening films, Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan leads the pack (must be a first for an Adam Sandler film in Hong Kong), making HK$3.38 million from 31 screens after 6 days. Surprisingly, Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is doing surprisingly well, making HK$1.49 million from 20 screens after 5 days. That means on average, the film surpassed the HK$10,000 average everyday since it opened. Bottle Shock is all the way down there with just HK$120,000 from 4 screens after 6 days.

As for other films, Mamma Mia is at HK$7.99 million after 13 days, 4BIA is at HK$3.68 million after 13 days, and still on 26 screens. 10 Promises With My Dog has made HK$3.4 million after 13 days, which is only half of what A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies made half a year ago.

- It’s Jpaanese Oricon charts time! Yet another compilation has arrived to bump Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest compilation off the #1 spot on the albums chart. This time, it’s B’z second compilation album of the year, selling a phenomenal 400,000+ copies in its first week.

On the singles chart, boy group V6’s latest debut on top, while Angela Aki’s latest debuts at 3rd place.

More at Tokyograph

- It’s trailers time! All of them are from Twitch today. First it’s the trailer for the Japanese comedy GS Wonderland, about the 60s boom of the so-called “Group Sound”. Then it’s the trailer for Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2, and I have no idea what the hell is going on in it either. Lastly, it’s the second trailer for the Korean romantic comedy My Wife Got Married, starring Son Ye Jin, who still looks fake when she’s trying to do the sexy thing.

- Under “directors taking on new projects” news today, Voice of a Murderer and You Are My Sunshine director Park Jin Pyo is directing from his own script for Flower Man, about a man with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and a woman funeral home director. The more surprising news today is producer/ex-convict Haruki Kadokawa taking on his first directing job in eleven years for the thriller The Laughing Cop. Kadokawa has had a string of flops lately as producer for God’s Puzzle, Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea, and even the Tsubaki Sanjuro remake didn’t do nearly as well as hoped. And of course, he mentioned prison again at the press conference.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog, the producers of the Hong Kong-China produced fantasy flick Painted Skin are trying to pull a fast one on the Academy Award committee after being picked as Hong Kong’s representative for Best Foreign Film. The rules stipulates that for a film to qualify at the awards, it must play for at least 7 days in the home region before October 1st. However, all the ads around the city say that the film doesn’t open until October 2nd. The blog did some investigation, and found that one theater has a listing on the newspaper saying that it is showing the film, but instead of stating the showtimes, it only says “5 shows a day”. The theater’s website doesn’t even have such a listing.

When the blogger showed up to the theaters, the showtimes list actually has Painted Skin’s showtimes on it, but the blogger couldn’t even buy a ticket for it, with the staff saying that the film doesn’t open until the 2nd. Also, the theater’s showtimes listing for the following two days also have Painted Skin on it, but simply lists the film as “sold-out”. Essentially, what’s happening here is the producers have somehow found a loophole and simply put up a guise that the film is undergoing a qualifing run without actually letting people see the film.

Again, the original blog post in Chinese

- Japan’s NTV will be using 33 songs by legendary pop band Southern All Stars as the basis for a series of short 10-minute dramas, with the broadcasting date and format yet to be confirmed. Most of these ideas just sound really bad at first, and yet the networks somehow pull it off. I hope that’ll be the case here. Still, they must be running out of ideas if they need to use 33 songs.

- Director Junji Sakamoto, whose child-prostitution film Children of the Dark was barred from screening at the Bangkok International Film Festival a few days ago, held a press conference on the festival’s opening day to protest the festival’s decision.

- Under “foreign distribution” news today, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata has been picked up for North American distribution, and is set to open in 2009. I’m not holding my breath, though. Meanwhile, the American remake of the Korean romantic comedy classic My Sassy Girl will be getting a theatrical release in Korea in late October. The film went direct-to-DVD even in its native America.

- Mika Nakashima is taking on a rare TV drama role this coming season. I hope she won’t just be playing another variation of Nana.

- The American-financed animated film Astro Boy, worth noting here because it’s being produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios, now has a release of October 23rd….That’s October 23rd, 2009.

 
 
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