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The Golden Rock - February 25th, 2008 Edition

Not much news happening today (I don’t think the Oscars have anything to do with it…right?), so let’s combine everything together.

- In Hong Kong box office, Enchanted seemed to have taken the weekend again, making HK$810,000 from 35 screens for an 18-day total of HK$25.98 million. I still think 30 million is still in its reach. Last week’s opener Jumper is in second place with HK$627,000 from 38 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of 9.93 million, just shy of HK$10 million. The Hollywood horror film The Mist did fairly well, with HK$500,000 from 25 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.69 million. The other major opener Vantage Point, made only HK$315,000 from 30 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.16 million.
The Oscar nominees did extremely well the day before the big ceremony: Juno made HK$325,000 from just 12 screens, while best picture winner No Country For Old Men made HK$230,000 from 7 screens. The two films have made HK$1.09 million and HK$650,000, respectively. No idea on There Will Be Blood, as it was only on 3 screens showing it only 3 times a day, which means it wouldn’t have made the top 10.

CJ7 has crossed the HK$50 million mark, but grosses are still going the natural way, despite the ticket price cuts mentioned over the weekend.  On Sunday, the Stephen Chow film made HK$388,000 from 35 screens. After 25 days, it has made HK$50.61 million and will probably not even hit HK$55 million.

-  With no major releases, 8 of the top 10 films from last week’s Japan attendance figures remained at the same places. Only Flowers in the Shadow and Elizabeth: The Golden Age switched places at 3rd and 5th places.

- Someone catch the falling Japanese drama ratings. This week, the Monday 9pm Fuji drama Bara No Nai Hanaya falls to its season-low of 16.2% rating, while Honey And Clover has yet to see its ratings actually rise, hitting another low at 8.3%. Even reliable hit Aibou hit its season low of 14.7% after hitting its season high last week. However, somewhat good news for Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai, whose ratings have finally gone up to 9.9% from 8.9 % last week.

- China’s education authorities is launching a test program that will include Peking Opera as a compulsory part of music education. This is to encourage a more traditional form of culture. What, you mean Jay Chou and Leehom Wang putting erhu in their songs don’t count?

- Shamo hasn’t even opened yet (though it’s been done for almost10 months), and director Soi Cheang already has a new movie on his hands. This time, it’s Assassins, a movie with Louis Koo and Richie Jen as members of a group of assassins that need to team together to save their friend. Give the man a teeny bopper comedy to do or something, he needs to lighten up.

- Korea Pop War’s Mark Russell offers a brief review of the current hit film in Korea, the serial killer thriller The Chaser.

- Under “aggressive director news that didn’t make it to the Associated Press” today, Japanese director Koichiro Yamashita was arrested over the weekend for getting drunk and attacking a poor convenience store clerk who was busy verbally attacking another customer. If you remember fondly, Hong Kong director Ringo Lam was arrested last week for fighting with a neighbor over something about a bucket and a parking space.

The Golden Rock - February 21st, 2008 Edition

- Edison Chen has returned to Hong Kong alive and limbs intact. Oh, he also apologized many times and says he quits Hong Kong entertainment. However, he didn’t say whether he’ll give up his career in Hollywood as well.

Here’s the video

The always-informative EastSouthWestNorth reports on the always-controversial Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority’s way of classifying the photos (they were classified because they were subsequently published partially in Hong Kong magazines and for the courts to determine whether the police had a case against those who uploaded the photos). While showing private parts can be considered “obscene,” it’s hard to believe that one adjudicator actually believed that Bobo Chan and Edison Chen’s tongues ought to be blacked out.

- Time for Japanese box office numbers: L: Change The World is still rocking the Japanese box office, despite losing a higher-than-usual 41% of its business (in all fairness, it had a huge opening weekend, so a huge drop was inevitable). The Glorious Team Batista lost 35%, retaining a second place finish. With screen count and gross reported, Elizabeth: The Golden Age’s opening isn’t all that impressive after all. With nothing big opening until The Golden Compass on March 1st, expect L to continue its rule on the box office.

By the way, if you’re wondering what Naoko is, it’s the new sports drama starring Juri Ueno. Check out a trailer here.

- In Korean box office, Jumper took the number one spot as expected (it’s not a very good movie, but it wasn’t that bad), and the low-budget thriller The Chaser (which actually got a 500-screen release, that’s even more than Jumper) opened not too far behind at second place. More from Mark Russell at Korea Pop Wars.

- It’s Oricon charts time! On the singles chart, Porno Graffiti has the number 1 single, doing much better than the film the single is the theme song to. On the albums chart, M-Flo’s latest compilation barely debuts on top. More from Tokyograph.

By the way, Jero, Japan’s first Black enka singer (as introduced by Japan Probe), released his first single 2 days ago, and it has already gone up to 6th place on its second day. Seriously, he’s not that bad of a singer, just never make an MTV like that again.

And Japanese pop duo Kobukuro’s Tsubomi is now the most downloaded cell phone ringtone of a Japanese pop song ever.

- The Hong Kong Film Development Fund, which pours government money up to 40% of an approved film’s budget, has given money to its first two films. The first is the latest McDull film, and the second is Claustrophobia, Ivy Ho’s directorial debut starring Ekin Cheng and Karena Lam that was previously reported on this blog. Apparently, Claustrophobia was approved despite its artsy premise because of those involved.

-  With the program for the Hong Kong International Festival announced, the organizers have announced that Japanese directors Yoji Yamada and Yuya Ishii will be getting honors at the Asian Film Awards.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at how China is slowly losing grip of its media and people by trying to grip harder ahead of the Olympics.

-  Continuing with Japan’s “let’s make movies out of songs” trend, Liar Game star Erika Toda will star in a short drama based on a Monkey Majik song that will be distributed online. It’s part of a series of such films from Fuji TV.

- The poster for the third (and reportedly the last) Patrick Kong-Stephy Tang-Alex Fong Lik-Sun film L for Love, L for Lies is out, and it’s…Okinawa Rendezvous?!  Ready for it or not, it’s coming out on March 13th.

- Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company has announced they will remake the famous Japanese comic Akira into two live-action films. Apparently, the remake will stick to the original comic rather than the classic animated film.

- Variety’s Russell Edwards has a review for the anticipated low-budget ultraviolent cult film Machine Girl.

- Under “Hong Kong gossip not really worth reporting globally” news today, Hong Kong director Ringo Lam was arrested for getting into a fight with his neighbor, who may or may not have thrown a bucket at his car. Obviously, this neighbor didn’t see what Ringo Lam did to Kelly Lin in his section of Triangle.

The Golden Rock - January 25th, 2008 Edition

- A few news straight from Peter Chan’s mouth: The Warlords was actually cut by several minutes in Mainland China for violence, and that is also the version that is mostly being passed around on the internet. Also, his co-producer Andre Morgan apparently took the film and made his own international cut for oversea buyers, which Chan is not very happy about because it’s being done without any input from him. Unhappy enough that now his next film Waiting is on hold while Chan takes a break for a year to  watch the “shifting marketplace.” I’m not sure if he’s lamenting, but he’s suggesting that next time he makes a mid-budget film, he will be aiming towards China, because he’s now a businessman, not a filmmaker.

Another Hong Kong filmmaker bites the dust…

- I wonder if Taiwanese producers regretting their decision to start filming a Taiwanese version of the live-action Honey and Clover series at the same time as the Japanese one. I’m asking because ratings for the Japanese one has now slid to single-digit numbers. Who knows? Chinese teenagers love (to download) their idol dramas, so this might be a hit.

-  Japanese horror director Hideo Nakata seems to be taking a turn away from the genre that made him famous with not only the upcoming Death Note spin-off L, but also his upcoming project Gensenkan, a film about a group of people who hide at a hot spring inn for different reasons.

Meanwhile, Korean director Park Chan-Wook’s vampire film will star Song Kang-Ho.

Both films will be featured at the upcoming Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

- Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Josie Ho from Hong Kong, in light of The Drummer’s competition slot at Sundance. Just reading that introduction (especially about her calling Chinese film executives “dick face”) makes me like her so much more.

- The Midnight Eye has posted a set of top 10 2007 Japanese films lists from several contributors well-versed in Japanese films, including Golden Rock favorite Jason Gray. Those lists just show how much more Japanese films I need to watch.

- Big news for foreigners in South Korea: CJ entertainment and Korea’s largest theater complex will offer some of the bigger films English-subtitled screenings during their release. About 4-6 films will be getting the subtitle treatment, with A Man Once Superman being the first one. How long will it take before Japan does that same? I suspect never.

- The Chinese learn the idea of irony, with a new brand being named after the most famous street in Beijing for knock-off goods. The ultimate irony? The general manager of the market that started the brand is warning people to not sell fake versions of the goods.

The Golden Rock - December 5th, 2007 Edition

Before we go on to our usual Wednesday posts (Oricon charts), let’s look at how Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai’s Mad Detective is doing mid-week.

- On Tuesday discount day in Hong Kong, Mad Detective kept going strong with nearly HK$620,000 from 35 screens for a 6-day total of HK$5.01 million. With this pace and almost no competition this coming weekend, this could become the most successful Milkyway film since summer’s Hooked on You, and may even be Milkyway’s first film to hit the HK$10 million mark since the Election flicks. Everything else did not so well. Maybe more this weekend if now.com uploads the Thursday numbers.

-The Oricon charts were pretty quiet this week, with Tokio’s new single winning the top spot by selling just 46,000 copies. Erika Sawajiri, seemingly still trying to recover from her PR nightmare a few months ago, could only sell 26,000 copies of her latest single for a 7th place debut.

On the albums chart, Kazumasa Oda beats his own record by being the oldest artist to have a number 1 album with his latest, selling 176,000 copies in the first week.

More details at Tokyograph

- Yoshimitsu Morita’s remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Tsubaki Sanjuro might have debut at 4th place with just 160 million yen, but its opening was 54% of the opening for Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor, which made a total of 4 billion yen. As for the audience breakdown, Eiga Consultant reports that the male-female ratio is 39:61 (!!!), those in their 40s made up 37.1 % of the audience, those in their 30s took up 22%, and those in their 20s took up just 17.2 %. Not sure how old those other 23.7% of the audience was, though.

When polled why they decided to watch it, 28.2% of the audience said it was because they were fans of star Yuji Oda, and 25.8% thought the content looked interesting. Period dramas such as Tsubaki Sanjuro tend to have stronger legs in the long run, so it looks like it will make it to 1 billion after all. It all depends on word-of-mouth, as is the case for most films in Japan that couldn’t open big.

- All Soi Cheang fans out there take note: his latest film Shamo, which has been stuck in limbo since it played at the Cannes market, is not likely to be released until March 2008, despite scoring 3 nominations at the Golden Horse Awards.

- Under “waste of time in a society based on timeliness” news today, you can watch Japanese comedy clips while waiting for your drink to come out of the vending machine. Does that mean now it’ll take 30-60 seconds for a drink to come out of the damn vending machine?

- It’s reviews time! From Variety’s Russell Edwards (this guy seems to make a daily appearance in this blog) is a review for Matsuo Suzuki’s Welcome to the Quiet Room. From Twitch/Lovehkfilm guest reviewer JMaruyama is a review of the hit Japanese drama Hero.

- I wonder if any fans of Korean movies ever sat there and thought that Korea needed disaster movies, because those people just had their wishes come true.

- Courtesy of Jason Gray, the website for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Ponyo on a Cliff is now open. However, there’s not much on it.

- Twitch has a trailer for the Korean serial killer flick Rainbow Eyes. And that’s all I have to say about that.

- NHK last scored a huge hit with Korean drama star Bae Yong-Joon when they aired Winter Sonata. Nearly 4 years later, they’re hoping for another hit with his latest period drama The Four Guardian Gods, which will also play in Japanese cinemas on a weekly basis in addition to the TV airings.

- Last week, we reported several Taiwanese films flopping on home turf and elsewhere. Kaiju Shakedown now introduces a few non-teen-targeted Taiwanese films this year, not including the two we mentioned last week.

- The Japan Media Arts Festival revealed their winners, with the sleeper animated hit Summer Days With Coo winning the grand prize in the Animation Division. The more surprising winner is Wii Sports picking up the Grand Prize in the Entertainment division.

- Under “Just for kicks” news today, here’s a clip of the least talented person to go on Bistro Smap ever. By the way, they call that bubble bursting thing “Paris Reaction,” which I can you can say the same for quite a few guys. Not me, though.

The Golden Rock - November 26th, 2007 Edition

 - It’s Japanese drama ratings time! A total of 12 dramas hit their season-low ratings. They include Joshi Deka (season-high:  13.4, season-low: 7.8), Iryu 2 (season-high: 21.0, season-low: 14.1), Uta Hime (season-high: 9.8, season-low: 6.7), Dream Again (season-high: 12.9, season-low: 8.4), Hatachi No Koibito (season-high: 13.0, season-low: 6.4), and Abarenbo Mama (season-high: 15.3, season-low: 11.1).

On the other hand, Fuji dramas Galileo and SP remain fairly strong, and NTV’s Hataraki Man saw a pretty big rebound from last week’s 10.1 to this week’s 12.7. Still, things are pretty bleak overall.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph 

-  It’s OK, Don, you did get this news first. Bayside Shakedown producer Chihiro Kameyama, who seems to be the only hitmaker for Fuji TV these days, will be teaming up with Bayside Shakedown screenwriter Ryoichi Kimizuka for a new police drama that does not have anything to do with the Bayside Shakedown series (contrary to the image on the main Variety Asia website). Dare Mo Mamotte Kurenai will star Japan’s favorite 14 year-old (fictional) mother Mirai Shida as the sister of a suspected murderer who is being protected by the cop who is also gathering evidence against her brother.

Kimizuka will be directing, his second film after the Bayside Shakedown spinoff The Suspect.

- In more Japanese drama-related news, Korean heartthrob Kwon Sang-Woo announced that he will be acting in a Japanese drama for Fuji TV that he would like to call a “Korean version of Notting Hill.” Blah.

- Peter Chan’s The Warlords is one of the biggest investments ever in the history of Chinese cinema. Turns out nearly half the damn budget went to the cast, including US$13 million for Jet Li.

- FilMeX wrapped up in Japan, and Hong Kong’s Milkyway is walking away as the big winner, with Yau Nai-Hoi’s Eye in the Sky winning the Special Jury prize and Johnnie To’s Exiled winning the audience award.

- Gong Li has taken up the lead for the Hollywood film Shanghai along with John Cusack. She’ll play some mysterious woman involved with the underworld, or something like that.

Anyway, the film will be directed by 1408’s Mikael Hafstrom and is expected to be released in 2009.

- Nothing to do with Asian entertainment, but I just thought it was kind of cool. Here’s a clip of newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaking Mandarin in a television interview with a Chinese TV station during his campaign. Rudd was a diplomat in China and started studying Mandarin when he was in college in the 70s.

Around the corner

- The San Francisco International Film Festival is coming around the corner, and the local San Francisco newspapers have been running features for a while now, so I figure I should probably at least link one of them. From the San Francisco Bay Guardian, there’s a feature dedicated to Daniel Wu’s recent award-winning mockumentary The Heavenly Kings. Too bad I haven’t seen one mention of Patrick Tam’s After This, Our Exile in these features, considering that it’s the heralded return of Wong Kar-Wai’s mentor.

- Remember, Johnnie To’s Election and Election 2 us currently under a 2-week run at New York’s Film Forum. They even decided to add one more showing of Election starting tomorrow, Friday the 27th! Greencine has a round-up of reviews around the net, which seems to be generally positive, even though no one seems to be picking up the political implication in especially Election 2.

- Jason Gray writes about his recent contributions to Screen International, all of which I will actually link to the Variety or Hollywood Reporter version (sorry, Jason!). He also has some new tidbits about Japanese cinema, including a new title for “For You I Go To My Death,” and even a shoutout to this here blog.

- As Jason mentioned in his entry, Shochiku is sending three more films over to the Cannes market - a horror movie, a romantic drama from the director of “Trick,” and most notable for me: A film based on the songs “Mirai Yosouzu” I and II (it’s misspelled in the Variety report) by the pop group Dreams Come True. Probably thanks to the success of “Nada Sousou” (Tears for You), looks like Shochiku decided to cash in on Toho’s idea with a hit “pop song adaptation” of their own with Hiroshi Chono making his feature debut. Look at The Song of the Day to see why this is such a big deal to me.

- The other news in Jason’s entry, and obviously good news again, is about the first Doraemon film to ever be shown legally in China. The comics have been hits for years in the region (I myself own all the comics from the Hong Kong version when it was still called “Ding Dong.”), but the films have never gotten a decent release in China. Finally, someone got off their ass and decide to actually release one of these things in Chinese theaters come July. Too bad it’ll be the movie from last year, not the recent hit.

- It was previously thought that Asian films might be a tad underrepresented this year at the Cannes Film Festival. Well, turns out Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s latest film “Looking For the Red Balloon” is getting a chance by opening the Un Certain Regard Section. It’s only kind of an Asian film, seeing how it’s more French than Asian and it stars Juliette Binoche, but hell, we’ll take what we can get.

- It has nothing to do with Asian films, but since we’re writing about Europe, and this happens to be an European film I liked, it’s worth talking about. Apparently, there’s a debate going on in Germany about the critically-acclaimed film The Lives of Others. The film portrays a captain for East Germany’s secret police that becomes sympathetic to the man he’s assigned to investigate, but a former Stasi member has come out and criticize the film for portraying something that couldn’t possibly have happened. Of course, while that takes away some of the credibility of the film (at least in the latter half. The stasi member still praises the film’s first half as being an accurate portrayal of the former communist government), but The Lives of Others is still a great movie worth watching.

- Back in Asia, Korea Pop Wars have the latest box office chart for last weekend. Paradise Murdered, as reported earlier, tops the chart, and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine continues its disappointing Asian run with just 68,100 viewers nationwide for its first weekend.

- Another film with a disappointing run pretty much all over the world is the prequel that no one asked for - Hannibal Rising. According to Eiga Consultant, the film opened with 150 million yen for a 5th place opening (wow, Box Office Mojo has a pretty comprehensive ranking this week). While that’s a sad 46% of Red Dragon’s opening (another Hannibal Lecter film), it’s still 126% of the opening weekend for the Black Dahlia, which earned 650 million yen in Japan. It’ll make a decent 800 million yen or so, but it’s definitely not a hit.

- Poor Hong Kong Disneyland - it was made fun of as the smallest member of the family, it was overcrowded with tourists who don’t know what “no spitting” means, then employee scandals popped up all over the place. That’s OK, Hong Kong Disneyland is actually still quite popular - in fact, people enjoy it so much that they’re buying up annual passes.

- The first two Pirates of the Caribbean films were banned in China, and the third one was threatened with banishment as well (you’d think Disney would stop trying by then). But lucky for them, it’s looking like it’s passed the censor board (though it didn’t come out unscathed) and will open in China in June. Disney sure isn’t worried about people not getting the film - its audience probably saw the first two films on pirated discs already! Anyway, Chinese report excerpts as follows:

昨日網上有消息指出,此片終於拿到公映許可證,暫定6月15日於全國各大戲院。就此事求證香港迪士尼發行部,負責人表示仍未收到批文,當收到落實批文後,必會正式向外公布。

Reports on the internet last night say that the film has gotten a permit to screen and is tentatively set to open nationwide on June 15th. When asked for confirmation from Hong Kong Disney, the spokesman says he hasn’t heard the news. Once he can confirm the news, he will officially report it to the public.

而發行商為免重遇第2集被禁的命運,一度刪減了部分的內容作遷就。

The distributor, in order to avoid the fate that fell upon the first two films, has made cuts as a compromise.

Original Chinese report

Not that Pirates of the Caribbean should be mistaken as “art,” (you know it’s a cash cow meant to show off the latest digital effects Hollywood can offer and how crazy can Johnny Depp act without seeming like he sold his soul to Hollywood) but it’s always a shame to see films get censored.

- Twitch has a teaser poster for the remake of Tsubaki Sanjuro. Why just a teaser? The film isn’t even opening until December.

A Case of the Mondays part 4

You guessed it, folks, it’s box office time.

- For Hong Kong’s Sunday numbers, there was plenty of love for the cynical Gold Label pop stars vehicle Love is Not All Around. On 37 screens, the film made HK$1.22 million on Sunday for a very healthy HK5.19 million total (including previews). Look for this one to actually have a chance to pass the $10 million mark with two fairly weak HK competition films this weekend - Susie Au’s Ming Ming, which will attract the cool art 20s crowd, and Francis Ng’s Dancing Lions, which might attract the slightly older crowd.

In other openings, Hollywood crap fests Epic Movie and Shooter gets 3rd and 4th place, respectively. On 26 screens, Epic Movie made HK$330,000 for a 4-day total of HK$1.25 million. As for Shooter, it made a healthier HK$310,000 on just 19 screens for a HK$1.11 million 4-day total. As expected, The Painted Veil saw a bit of a surge, making HK$100,000 on 5 screens with a 4-day total of HK400,000. One place ahead is the lesbian drama Spider Lilies in its second weekend, making HK$160,000 on 10 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$2.44 million.

- Speaking of Ming Ming, Lovehkfilm actually has a review of it already, but many of you probably know that already since you probably found this blog from it. For those who’s been tracking the Hong Kong box office and has no idea what the hell is Easter box office flop Super Fans all about, Kozo has a review of that as well. I knew Eric Kot sold out with this movie, but I didn’t know he sold out to a Karaoke chain.

- In Japan audience rankings, the kids ruled the cinemas as two newly-opened animated films top the box office. The latest Conan (the child detective, not the barbarian) film opened up on top as expected, while Crayon Shinchan opened on 2nd. Three foreign films also joined the fray - Rocky Balboa performed the best after this week’s screen expansion, scoring fourth place, while the unworthy sequel Hannibal Rising scored fifth place. Performing even worse is Hugh Grant/Drew Berrymore’s Music and Lyrics, managing only an 8th place opening. Meanwhile, Box office Mojo seems to have some discrepancy again with the numbers, so we’ll go into that tomorrow when they have the entire top 10.

- Just about all the Spring Japanese drama has started, and the ratings are nowhere near the numbers networks enjoyed last season or even last year, for that matter. This season, the most anticipated new dramas are “Proposal Daisakusen,” starring boy band NEWS member Tomohisa Yamashita and Masami Nagasawa taking over Fuji’s best drama time slot, “the food drama “Banbino,” and Yuji Oda/Juri Ueno’s May-September romance “Joudan Janai!” After one full week, Joudan Janai opened strong with a 19.4 rating for its first episode, but has since fallen to a disastrous 14.7 rating for its second week. Proposal Daisakusen is in a close second place with a 19.3 opening episode with its second episode just aired a few hours ago in Japan. As for Banbino, it opened at an OK 16.6 rating.

Other dramas this Spring include the Japanese adaptation of the hit Korean drama Hotelier, starring idol Aya Ueto and a cameo by original star Bae Yong Joon (better known as Yonsama in Japan). It opened at a weak 11.1 rating in its first week. Even Death Note star Kenichi Matsuyama can’t help comic adaptation Sexy Voice and Robo, which had a weak first-week rating of 12.5, only to slip further into an 8.7 rating for its second week.

- In the North American box office, Disturbia, or better known as “Rear Window for Gen-Y,” topped the box office again. Grindhouse continues its freefall for its third weekend, and Hot Fuzz opens with an impressive $7,089 per-screen average on just 825 screens. In Asian film news, while Mark Cuban may be pissed about his Dallas Mavericks losing to the Golden State Warriors in their first game in the NBA playoffs (go Warriors!), he should be happy to know that The Host is now his Magnolia Picture’s 8th highest-grossing film ever. It’s only a little over $2 million in box office, but Cuban needs a little consolation prize right now, so there.

- That was fast. The recent commercial South Korean disappointment The Show Must Go On, starring Song Kang-Ho and directed by Rules of Dating’s Han Jae-Rim, is already seeing a DVD release date. According to Twitch, the DVD is coming out on July 30th, which isn’t that small of a theatrical-to-DVD window, but I’m surprised they’re announcing it so quickly. Funny enough, Paradise Murdered, the film that took The Show Must Go On off its box office throne, is also coming to DVD on July 30th.

- Everyone is picking on poor China. After the United States filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s rampant piracy of Hollywood films, Japan is now planning to file their own complaint against China as well. Oh, and sources say the EU is planning to do the same. Talk about the dirty Capitalists ganging up on the poor giant Communist.

- In true Japan fashion, while they blame the Chinese for not doing enough, the Japanese also have to praise themselves for cracking down piracy the right way. Oh, and they’re blaming foreigners for that too! I wonder if those Japanese street vendors at Osaka’s Electronic Street are still working the streets as if nothing is happening….

- Speaking of Hollywood and Japan, after the successful premiere of Spiderman 3 last week in Tokyo, Warner Bros. is now planning a similar rote for their summer tentpole film - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Hoping to continue their over-10 billion yen box office streak in Japan for the franchise, Warner Bros. will hold its premiere in Tokyo on June 28th, while the rest of the world will start seeing the film on the weekend of July 11th. Oh, except Japan, where it’ll actually open a week late.

- British Airway wants to provide the latest hit movies for their passengers, but it doesn’t want to do it if a rival airline and its chairman show up in it. In a petty immature fashion, BA decided to cut out Virgin Atlantic chairman Richard Branson’s cameo in the latest James Bond film Casino Royale. They also blurred out the appearance of a Virgin Atlantic plane in the film. Oh, behave!

Sunday News-ing

In Cantonese, we call the best actor and best actress winners at film awards “King” and “Queen,” respectively. This year’s Hong Kong Film Awards was held a few hours ago, and while I’ll be watching the show tonight SF time, I can’t help but looking up the winners list. Turns out I got 4 right, and the one I wanted to win best actor - Lau Ching-Wan for My Name is Fame - actually won.

Why is Lau Ching-Wan winning the “King” such a big deal? He’s a great actor, and everyone knows that. That’s what made it such a big deal - despite being a great actor and having been nominated many times, he has actually never won a best actor award at the HK Film Awards. After some 20 years of acting, one of Hong Kong’s greatest finally wins. I hope that this will encourage LCW to do even more movies.

More on the show itself and the winners list tomorrow.

- North American box office actual numbers are out tomorrow, but estimates show Grindhouse dropping by 63% and barely hanging on to the top 10. In addition to the “let’s split the movies up in director’s cut” plan (which would not be financially viable since it means striking up new prints), I wonder what else do the Weinsteins have up their sleeves.

- Speaking of another failure, Sony has decided to stop selling the cheaper 20gb model of the Playstation 3 in the United States. The more expensive 60gb model remains in the market, which shows which market they’re really aiming at these days.

- This weekend Japan sees the third adaptation of the novel Tokyo Tower in a year opening in its cinemas. This time, it stars Joe Odagiri and Kirin Kiki. Despite the excess dose of the popular novel about a young man venturing to Tokyo from his rural town and the mother who supported him every step of the way, Hoga News reports that its opening day box office is huge enough that it’s expected to pass the 4 billion mark that Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor did this past winter. Joe Odagiri>Kimura Takuya???

- Japanese video market is still flat. More people are buying DVDs, but they’re individually buying and spending less on them. zzzzzzz…….

- I was going to talk about how pirates put Chinese subtitles on those foreign shows that allows people to download the show and understand the whole thing within only a few days’ time. That was yesterday’s lost entry. Today, I offer Korea Pop Wars’ Mark Russell’s look at the ongoing struggles of vendors that sell pirated discs, only to find out that it’s all about location, location, location.

- Meanwhile, Twitch introduces Driving With My Wife’s Lover, a Korean film that sounds really interesting with a title that’s as tell-all as it gets.

- Lastly, thought the events in the Peter Chan-produced/Fruit Chan-directed film Dumplings can’t happen? Think again (warning, content may potentially gross you out.).

Lowered Standards

The news today come from random corners of the world, so I’m just going to dive right in without much organization.

- Yesterday I mentioned Nikkatsu’s line-up, which includes the Death Note spin-off film about the L character. We find out today that horror director Hideo Nakata, who made the Japanese versions of the “Ring” and “Dark Water,” will take on directing duties. Well, at least he’s better than the director of Gamera films (that would be the guy who did the Death Note movies).

- On the less commercial side of things, Twitch introduces a film from a country we rarely associate with any film not about war - Vietnam.

- Remember the highly-anticipated Jackie Chan-Jet Li project that turned out to be a kids’ movie? Variety Asia offers us more details, including the director (guy who did Lion and Stuart Little), and the plot, about an American teenager transported into ancient China, where he would join a crew of warriors (with it reportedly based on Journey to the West, it would probably be the monk and his disciples, which include the Monkey King) to free an imprison king. Holy ethnographic gaze, Batman!

- Speaking of Jackie Chan, Rob-B-Hood opened this past weekend in Japan to satisfactory results. According to Eiga Consultant, Rob-B-Hood (called “Project BB” in Japan, which is a direct translation of its Chinese title) grossed 25.6 million yen on 60 screens for an OK 426600 yen per-screen average. The opening is 162% of “The Myth,” but only 58% of “New Police Story,” which grossed 200 mill yen.

- Korea Pop Wars offer some random notes about Korean films and beyond (include Korean films playing at beyond).

- While I said that Grindhouse flopped because it lacked the audience, not shows per day, New York Post critic comes out and says that wasn’t the case in New York, where the per-screen average was actually over $30,000! We’ve just found one more thing to blame rural America….

- Last week I posted a link to the poster of director Benny Chan’s upcoming flick “Invisible Targets,” and now Twitch has delivered again with a report from Chinese TV that contains a bit of footage. That roof jump looks mighty impressive, I hope the rest of the movie can live up to that.

- In Shaolin Soccer, there was a goalie character that was a dead ringer for Bruce Lee. Of course we know that it was intentional that the actor was probably casted in that role because of his looks (Stephen Chow held a huge audition before filming, so I wouldn’t be surprised that’s where he found the actor). That man was Chen Guokun. Who would expect that he was actually casted to play Bruce Lee himself in a biographical TV series based on Lee’s life? Well, believe it, because its shoot starts next week.

- The Tokyo governor’s election has been over and done with for a while (with everyone’s favorite xenophobic nationalist politician Shintaro Ishihara getting his third term in office, just in time for his movie to open!), and the video has been out there for a while. Anyway, as part of the campaign, each candidate has the right to do a 5-minute video explaining their position on issues and why people should vote for them. Out of nowhere comes Koichi Toyama, an ultra left-wing musician and his kooky campaign video. The reason I waited this long because I finally found an English subtitled version. Someone even made a South Park version of the campaign video, because it’s so crazy, baby.

Of course, he’s not the only guy that’s done a kooky campaign video. Rocker Yuuya Uchida also ran for governor in Tokyo in 1991, and he did a similarly entertaining video as well (you don’t even need English subtitles for this, it’s in English already).

Obviously, Uchida lost the election, but what happened to Koichi Toyama? He was in 7th place with 15,000 votes!

What does this have to do with The Golden Rock, you ask? It’s Asian entertainment, isn’t it?

Obessions in their heads

Today only comes with a few pieces of news, then part 1 of a two-part pictorial feature:

- Hong Kong does triad election, and Japan has a documentary on a real election. In light of the national election going on Sunday in Japan, the Japanese trailer blog has the trailer for a new documentary on just how a Japanese political campaign is. The movie is Campaign, and the trailer is English subtitled too.

- Two pieces of news from EastSouthWestNorth -

First, more details from the Southern Metropolis Daily about the ban of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Second, Asia’s least-favorite demented fan family returns to Hong Kong under the guise of taking the father’s body back home, only to go as far as showing up at Andy Lau’s neighborhood and knocking on doors.

That’s it for news today. The rest of the entry goes to this feature:

One of the things I love about going to the movies in Japan is the great promo material they have in the lobby. This is the best way to get moviegoers to be aware of films coming up - since moviegoers show up early to the theaters anyway, they put flyers for new movies at the lobby that include an introduction of the film so people can read them before the movie starts. For memorabilia freaks like me, this means I get free movie posters. So this feature would be some of the posters that I got from Japan.

Part 1: 2004-2005 - study abroad period.

Batman Begins

I still don’t know to this day why I only have one of these.

This poster for Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers is actually classier than the film itself. The big Chinese letter in the background is the third letter to Zhang Yimou’s name in Chinese characters.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle

The teaser poster for Spielberg’s War of the Worlds

Initial D teaser poster.

The Suspect Muroi Shinji, the second Bayside Shakedown theatrical spin-off film. Black apparently means guilty in Japanese culture.

This is my favorite poster, which I only have one of. I like the other side (bottom) better.

Naturally, I have a ton of this one.

This is the second promo poster for Kung-Fu Hustle

This is the teaser poster.

My only regret from that year is that I only have one or two of most posters when I could’ve grabbed 5 (just in case), despite the request on the rack for people to get only one. Lucky for me that request is never enforced. For my most recent trip, I went with that lesson in mind. But that’s for part 2, coming when I run out of news again.

 
 
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