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Archive for the ‘ratings’ Category

The Golden Rock - December 1st, 2008 Edition

Goodbye, November. Hello, December. See you soon, 2nd anniversary.

- Four of the five opening movies in Hong Kong got on the top 10 on opening day last Thursday, but only three remained on the Sunday box office chart. Beast Stalker remained on top with an impressive HK$844,000 from 37 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.91 million. This is 80% of Connected’s 4-day opening number (both are from Emperor Motion Pictures), and it ended up making over HK$13 million. If the word-of-mouth is similarly positive, it may end up passing the HK$10 million mark.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect didn’t quite get the youth boost it needed on Sunday, making just HK$340,400 from 34 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.49 million. It’s an improvement over Kong’s horror film Forgive and Forget, but I doubt this will pass the HK$3 million mark as theaters quickly move to reduce the number of showings by Thursday. Lastly, Hong Kong audience show that they don’t really care movies paralleling Taiwanese current events, as Lawrence Lau’s Ballistic made only HK$64,800 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$270,000.

Cape No. 7 is showing some potential for long-term success, as its take of HK$490,600 from 25 screens on Sunday is 83% of last Sunday’s take. After 11 days, the Taiwanese music-themed romance has made HK$4.55 million. At this speed, the HK$7 million mark is a likely possibility. Meanwhile, Beverly Hills Chihuahua is now at only HK$2.44 million after 11 days, Quantum of Solace is at HK$18.38 million after 25 days. While it won’t do the HK$20+million that Casino Royale did two years ago (it’s hard to believe that the blog started out tracking its Hong Kong box office), it’s also worth noting that Casino Royale had a ticket price inflation due to its length.

Moving down the chart, The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading now has HK$2.68 million after 18 days. Champions has passed the HK$5 million mark on Sunday with HK$80,000 from 27 screens. After 18 days, it has made HK$5.06 million. The church-endorsed Bella is showing legs, with another HK$78,000 from 8 screens for HK$1.41 million after 18 days. Lastly, Detroit Metal City remains on the top 10 with HK$10.51 million after 32 days.

- It was a slow week at the Japanese box office, at least attendance-wise. Red Cliff takes the 5th week at the top, while I’d Rather be a Shellfish remains at 2nd place, and Happy Flight remains at 3rd. The best-performing debut goes to Death Race at 5th, while Saw V could only muster a 7th place opening. More when the numbers come out.

- The ratings for the Fall 2008 Japanese drama season continues to be very disappointing. The ratings for Aibou Season 7 - the highest of the season so far - is going through bigger ups and downs than the stock market. After a series-high 20.7% two weeks ago, it dips to a 15.7 this week. Just when Ryusei no Kizuna seems to have found a loyal group of audience, it saw its season low of 14.5% this week in its 3rd straight week of declining ratings. The same happened to the terrorism thriller Bloody Monday, which saw steady ratings since its premiere until it dropped to a 10.1% for this week’s episode.

Some dramas are beginning to see their ratings pick up slightly: Scandal saw a boost to a 12.3% rating after a mere 10.4% in the previous week. Gira Gira saw a similar boost, going up to a 10.2% after seeing a season-low 7.2% in the previous week. As it reaches its final weeks, Kaze no Garden’s 8th episode also saw a boost to 14.1% rating.

The season’s biggest disappointment, next to Ryusei no Kizuna’s fall from grace, has to be the struggling ratings for Fuji’s Monday night 9pm drama Innocent Love. whose current season average of 13.2% is the lowest since Boku Dake no Madonna in Summer 2003. This week, it saw a boost up to 12.6% after two straight weeks of season-low 11.7%.

- Under “The economy went shitty, and all I got was this stupid t-shirt” news today, Hong Kong’s TVB is cutting 212 staffs, or 7% of their workforce, because they anticipate a sharp drop in profits. Note that said drop hasn’t officially happened yet, they just anticipated it.

Meanwhile, Japanese animation house GDH, who made the award-winning Summer Days with Coo, is cutting 20% of its workforce through early retirements.

- DJ Ozma, who pissed Japan off at the 2006 Kohaku Uta Gassen with this performance, is retiring from show biz after his third album. Of course, he’s not going away entirely: Ozma is just one of the roles the ex-Kishidan leader plays. He’s playing one of the three members of Yazima Biyoushitsu. It’s borderline offensive if that damn song isn’t so catchy.

- The Indian government has called in broadcasters to investigate whether the news media helped the terrorists by giving them the police’s tactical strategies with their wall-to-wall coverage.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter looks at the effect of the tragedy on the worldwide entertainment industry at a time when India is trying to expand to the world with various production deals.

One of the biggest effects already felt is the cancellation of Live Earth India, which was set to take place this Sunday in Mumbai.

- The Tokyo Filmex just wrapped up over the weekend, with the Isreali-German-France co-produced animated film Waltz with Bashir taking home the grand prize.

The film attracting the most attention at the Tokyo Filmex this year must be Sion Sono’s 4-hour romance epic Love Exposure. It ended up taking home the Agnes B Audience Prize. Jason Gray gives a quasi-review, and Edmond Yeo gives it a very strong praise. Now I hope the Hong Kong International Film Festival is daring enough to take it on.

- Kyoko Koizumi picks up another acting prize for Tokyo Sonata at this year’s Fumiko Yamaji Film Awards, which only gives out female acting awards in addition to the film awards. In addition to Koizumi’s Best Actress win, Haruka Ayase also picked up the Best Newcomer Award for her three theatrical releases this year - Cyborg She, Ichi, and Happy Flight.

- The Japanese talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo, which manages some of Japan’s top comic talents, is partnering with a Chinese theater group to give comedy stage shows in China.

- Holy crap, the other five guys in Exile finally has something to do other than dance in the background while the other two sing.

- Twitch has a full trailer for Chan Kaige’s Forever Entralled, which will be released in a few weeks in China and on January 1st in Hong Kong.

- The TBS-produced Japanese medical mystery The Glorious Team Batista has a decent run in cinemas earlier in the year. This season, Fuji took the same source material and turned it into a TV drama, which is doing OK in the ratings. Now TBS is taking back the spotlight by announcing a sequel for the film version with the original cast returning. It will be released in March 2009. Kozo reviewed the first film here.

- An interesting off-topic find: In a survey of about 400 people - with 47.8% of the participant in their 30s - the cinema is the top spot for a first date. It also reveals that nearly 97% of Japanese moviegoers never had their phones go off in the movie theater. This number would surely be much much lower here in Hong Kong.

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 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 13th, 2008 Edition

- As I predicted, Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers came back from behind over the weekend to beat Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, the idols period flick made HK$761,079 from 36 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.67 million. Meanwhile, Body of Lies made HK$734,000 from 35 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.6 million. While Body of Lies has one less screen and runs 20 minutes longer, it also attracts the higher-priced adult tickets, while Butterfly Lovers attracted the lower-priced student tickets, so there’s essentially no handicap for either film.

As for other openers, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona did pretty well on its relatively limited release (although this is pretty wide for Woody Allen). It made HK$261,000 from 16 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$890,000, which is reportedly better than Match Point already. The Hollywood rom-com My Best Friend’s Girl did slightly better during the weekend, making HK$110,000 from just 13 screens, but it still only made HK$280,000 after 4 days.

Painted Skin lost almost half of its audience over the weekend, making HK$517,000 from 30 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total (it says 19, but it’s really 11) of HK$8.28 million (minus the possibly bogus HK$350,000 gross from its “one-week run”). Connected is proving relatively long legs, making HK$382,000 from 34 screens on Sunday. After 18 days, Benny Chan’s action thriller has made HK$11.91 million. The Duchess also hangs on during its second weekend in limited release, making HK$67,000 from 6 screens for a 12-day total of HK$1.36 million. 20th Century Boys has passed the HK$6 million mark after 18 days after making HK$87,000 from 14 screens. Lastly, Mamma Mia is now at 11.56 million after 32 days, and Eagle Eye is at HK$6.14 million after 18 days.

-It’s a public holiday in Japan today, so all we have today is last week’s drama ratings. The Fall 2008 season has started, and as reported last week, Kaze no Garden is leading the pack with a 20.1% rating for its premiere episode. Yume wo Kanaeru Zou takes a big drop for its second episode, losing nearly 43% of its audience for a 4.1% rating in its second week. OL Nippon, from the writer of the successful Haken no Hinkaku, flops in its first episode with just a 8.3% rating. Fuji’s Saturday night 11pm drama fails to outdo last season’s 33-Minute Detective, but outdoes Hachi One Diver’s premiere with a 10.4% rating.

All drama synoses can be found on Tokyograph.

- Mamoru Oshii’s Sky Crawlers won big at the Sitges Film Festival, picking up 3 prizes, including the Best Motion Picture Award from the youth jury.

Also, the Korean thriller The Chaser picked up Orient Express~Casa Asia award for Best Picture, and Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad and The Weird picked up two awards in the main competition section.

- Jason Gray reports that the new Japanese food film Flavor of Happiness has been acquired by a French distributor that will be opening it on 40 screens. That’s more than double the screens the film got for its opening weekend in Japan.

Mark Schilling of the Japan Times gave a rave for the film last week.

- Twitch has a trailer for the Mamoru Oshii-led anthology Kill~Kiru, which is essentially four action finales for four films that don’t really exist. It look like a maybe-maybe not. We’ll know how it is after it premieres at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

I found out during a random look yesterday at the Now TV movie trailer channel that there’s a trailer out for the Wong Jing-produced cheapie flick The Vampire Who Admires Me. Here it is in all its Youtube glory.

-The comedian management agency Yoshimoto Kogyo last year announced that its large cast of comedians will be directing 100 short films. Now the agency plans to start the Okinawa International Movie Festival next March, and those 100 films will be part of the program.

- Korea Pop War’s Mark Russell has seen Kim Ki Duk’s latest Dream, starring Jo Odagiri and Lee Na Young, and he posts his thoughts on the film and Kim Ki Duk in general.

- Salon Films, hot off the success of their first film Painted Skin at the Chinese box office, is now set to make nine more films. Four of the films, all English-language films, will be made with the recently established multinational Asian film fund and will be shot in China. One of the other five films will be a sequel to Eat Drink Man Woman, which doesn’t seem to have Ang Lee’s name attached…yet?

- Veteran Japanese actor Toru Minegishi, who last appeared in the acclaimed film Departures and I probably last saw him in TV drama Karei Naru Ichizoku, passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 65.

The Golden Rock - October 10th, 2008 Edition

- It’s looking like it’ll be a quiet weekend at the Hong Kong box office. Especially disappointing is the opening day for Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers, which opened on 36 screens with a HK$389,280 take. But it’s only at second place, because Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies not only opened on less screens (33) with less showings (it runs 20 minutes longer), but it also made HK$389,419, beating it by HK$139, which is roughly two tickets. Talking about a close one.

Butterfly Lovers does have two things going for it: 1) It appeals more to younger audiences, which means it probably sold more student tickets at a lower price. 2) The young idol chasers will likely flock to this over the weekend when they’re out of school. So I expect this to get a bigger boost over the weekend than Body of Lies.

As for the other opening films, Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona opened on 16 screens and made just under HK$106,000, and the Hollywood comedy My Best Friend’s Girl opened on 12 screens for just a take of HK$28,000. More on Monday with the weekend numbers.

- Box office gross for this year’s week-long National Day holiday in China is up 220%(!) from the same period last year. This year, it’s thanks to the RMB100 million+ 7-day take of Painted Skin (which has now made RMB 170 million in total), the RMB 21.6 million take for Connected during the same period), as well as Journey to the Center of the Earth’s RMB 21 million take.

- The new Japanese drama Kaze no Garden, which features actor Ken Ogata in his last role before passing away last week, scored a tremendous 20.1% premiere this past week.

- Tokyograph has unveiled its comprehensive guide to the Fall 2008 season Japanese dramas, and there are quite a few interesting ones this season. Fall seasons tend to do much better than the summer seasons, so hopefully ratings report will be more interesting to do this time around.

- Even though Warner Bros. has not done very well recently in Japan with either its Hollywood productions (The Dark Knight, Speed Racer, Nights in Rodanthe) nor its Japan productions (Sky Crawlers, Sushi Ouji, Sweet Rain), it still plans to boost local productions in the country.

- One of WB Japan’s upcoming releases is Ichi, director Fumihiko Sori’s take on the Zatoichi legend using a female lead, and Twitch has an advance review of it.

- Believe it or not, there’s actually been odds on Japanese author Haruki Murakami winning the Nobel Literature Prize since 2006, even though he’s missed out on it for 3 years running now.

- I’ll be watching three movies at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival tomorrow, and I’ll be offering short thoughts for at least two of the films. In its 5th edition, the HKAFF has become Hong Kong’s second biggest film festival. However, this year is also looking to be the most controversial year ever.

Still, it should be all about the movies. That’s what I care about, and that’s where I’ll be tomorrow. See you all on Sunday.

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 29th, 2008 Edition

- Several major releases helped boost the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Benny Chan’s Connected tops the box office with HK$1.08 million from 42 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$3.61 million, pretty much guaranteeing that it’ll pass the HK$10 million mark. Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys is at 2nd place with HK$729,000 from 32 screens (including an inflated ticket price to compensate for its long running time) on Sunday and a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.48 million. I think HK$6 million is a pretty reasonable goal for final gross. The Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye is at 3rd place with HK$651,000 from 39 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.26 million.

Disaster Movie continues its disastrous run, with just HK$144,000 from 21 screens for a 4-day total of HK$530,000. Meanwhile, the excellent Korean thriller The Chaser also flops in its limited release, making only HK$28,000 from 5 screens on Sunday, but no weekend total was available from the Hong Kong Film Blog.

Amazingly, the softcore porn flick Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is still doing relatively well, making HK$177,000 from 16 screens for an impressive 10-day total of HK$2.48 million. I believe it still hasn’t had one day where the per-screen average was lower than HK$10,000, which is pretty amazing for a film of this type. Mamma Mia edges closer to HK$10 million, taking in HK$342,000 from 24 screens for an 18-day total of HK$9.28 million. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan somewhat holds up in its second weekend, making HK$313,000 from 30 screens for an 11-day total of HK$4.81 million. For those still following, Thai horror film 4BIA made HK$50,000 from 8 screens, and has now made HK$4.03 million after 18 days. The Muai Thai action flick Chocolate earned a similar gross back in April, except this one didn’t have the crazy stunts to pull audiences in.

According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (and I have no idea what the blogger’s source is), even the bogus one-week run of Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin made some money, despite the fact that no one could buy ticket to it. On that one screen playing “five shows” on Sunday, the supernatural period film reportedly made HK$15,435, which averages only a 60% capacity for each show. So why does the theater report that the film is sold out? Did anyone actually manage to get into a showing of this?

-At the Japanese box office this weekend, Iron Man topped the audience attendence chart, bumping Wanted to 2nd place after its one week at the top. Paco and the Magical Book stays up at 3rd place, while Departures is the success story with its hold at 4th place. The high-concept film Ikigami could only get a 6th place opening, while the Richard Gere romance flick Nights in Rodanthe could only earn an 8th place day-and-date opening. This is another blow to Warner Bros. after The Dark Knight underperformed at the Japanese box office last month.

- All the primetime private network dramas have wrapped up for the Summer 2008 season in Japan. Here are the top 5 shows, based on season average:

1) Code Blue - 15.6% average
2) Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu - 14.5% average
3) Yasuko to Kenji - 13.0% average
4) Tomorrow - 12.6% average
5) Shibatora - 12.5% average

Note: Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari is not counted because its season actually started in Spring, hence this season is simply a continuation. In fact, it’s not even over yet.

All drama synosis can be found at Tokyograph.

- Under “film festivals in Asia” news today, the Bangkok International Film Festival has given its top prize to the Colombian film PVC-1. Meanwhile, the Filipino film Serbis won the top prize in the Southeast Asian film section. While the festival was well-attended (it actually doesn’t end until tomorrow with the premiere of Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase’s latest), their first attempt at an entertainment market wasn’t. Better luck next year.

Meanwhile, Variety’s Derek Elley writes about surviving North Korea’s Pyongyong Film Festival, despite the sensitive North Korean government and its strict rules toward foreign journalists.

- Akira Kurosawa’s classic film The Seven Samurai is going to the stage, and this is the man that will play the Toshio Mifune role. Apparently, since it’s based on an anime that’s based on the film, I guess it’s OK.

- Variety’s Joe Leydon has a review of the documentary The Real Shaolin, which follows four martial arts student who travel to the real Shaolin temple in China to learn kung-fu.

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2008 Edition

- Guess who just won the weekend box office in Hong Kong again? For the 4th weekend in a row, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes the top spot, making HK$816,000 from 34 screens on Sunday (again, much of it from the higher-priced 3D showings) for a 25-day total of HK$30.92 million. Brendan Frasier is now the most bankable star in Hong Kong this year, with his two films making a total of HK$68 million and counting in Hong Kong.

This means that the Pang Brothers’ remake of Bangkok Dangerous got bumped down to second place, making almost HK$520,000 from 34 screens for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$1.85 million. The film will likely finish on par with the brothers’ recent efforts at around HK$5-6 million. The other only opener that made it to the top 10 is the horror film The Strangers, which made HK$103,000 from 15 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$390,000.  According to the Hong Kong Film blog, the three Hong Kong-based films - The Luckiest Man, A Decade of Love, and Rule #1 - made 4-day weekend totals of HK$96,000, HK$80,000, and HK$78,000 from 12, 11, and 5 screens, respectively. The award-winning Rule #1 can be said to be the most successful one, because it’s only play on 5 screens, and at least two of those screens only play the film once a day at 11:45pm.

As for holdovers, Rec barely hangs in there for its second weekend, making HK$295,000 from 28 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$4.85 million. Cyborg She is showing surprising legs in its third weekend, still making HK$204,000 from 16 screens for an 18-day total of HK$4.47 million. Not hanging in so well are Hana Yori Dango Final, which made just HK$76,000 from 14 screens (with a reduced amount of a screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.18 million, and Partick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, which made just HK$59,000 from 22 screens (also with reduced amount of screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.53 million.

- In Japan cinema attendance chart, 20th Century Boys have come back from behind for a boost to 1st place in its second weekend, with Ponyo taking 2nd place and Hancock dropping all the way to 3rd place. Sex and the City also got a boost up to 5th place, which shows that it’s got staying power, even if it’s only limited to the urban areas. Nim’s Island debuts at 6th place, while Goo Goo the Cat shows that cats are just not as popular as dogs in the cinema with an 8th place debut.

- In an amazing turn of events, the Taiwanese Academy Awards representative Cape No. 7 saw a boost of 77% in box office gross for its second weekend, and has thankfully now surpassed Kung Fu Dunk as the highest-grossing local film in Taiwan.

- That was quick: Some Summer 2008 dramas are already wrapping up their runs, though the drama ratings aren’t getting any better. First, Sono Otoko, Fukushocho ended with a barely above-average 11.9% rating for its last episode and a season average rating of 11.8%. That’s considerably lower than the 13.5% average of the first series. Yottsu no Uso takes an early ending with only 9 episodes, wrapping up with an above-average 9.6% rating for its final episode and a 9.3% season average. The Takashi Sorimachi-starring flop Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko ended up with only a 6.4% rating for its final episode and an embarrassing 6.5% season average. It’s about to be the flop of the season, because Koizora has boosted its season average to 6.4% because of a season-high 7.6% rating for this week’s episode.

Tomorrow wrapped up with an OK-14.1% rating final episode for a season average of 12.6%. Right now, it’s looking to be one of the better-performing dramas of the season, behind Taiyou to Umi no Kyoushitsu (14.1% rating for this week’s episode), Yasuko to Kenji (dropping to a 13% this week after a one-week hiatus), and Code Blue (down to a below-average 14.9% rating for its second-to-last episode). Getting close to the end of the season apparently isn’t energizing the ratings battle any, with only Koizora reaching its season high this week.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph.

- With its screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the beatdown of the Yu Wai Lik’s Hong Kong co-production Plastic City continues. This time, it’s jury member Johnnie To’s turn to do the beating, quoted by Apple Daily: “I think director Yu Wai Lik has yet to finish making the film. Great cinematography cannot make up the film’s whole.”  He also said that he does not agree with the jury’s pick for Best Actor and the Golden Lion, saying that the Turkish film Milk and Russia’s Paper Soldiers should taken those awards, respectively.

Jury president Wim Wenders also lament that there’s a rule set by the festival that the Golden Lion-winning film cannot also win Best Actor, which explains why Mickey Rourke didn’t pick up Best Actor for The Wrestler, despite being the heavy favorite. When the Japanese press asked Wenders why Ponyo didn’t pick up any prizes, Wenders simply said that he lost sleep over Ponyo because he likes the film very much. He also said that in order to prove their love for Ponyo, the jury members will be singing the theme song for the rest of their lives.

Original story by Apple Daily.

- Variety also cover the snubbing of Asian films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

- As for Plastic City, its sales company has confirmed that they will work with the filmmakers to recut the film after its screenings at Venice and Toronto. The company blames the rushed post-production process for the film’s bad word-of-mouth and urge potential buyers to wait for the new cut.

- In Toronto, Momoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers was acquired by Sony for distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. Strangely, Warner Bros. Japan was a major distributor of the film in its native Japan, although Sony actually acquired the rights directly from the film’s production company.

- Korean director Choi Dong Hoon has gotten a hell of a cast in hopes for a third consecutive hit after The Big Swindle and Tezza: The High Rollers. This time, he’ll bring a historical figure into modern times as a superhero from the past fighting supernatural figures.

- Perhaps not as exciting to some people is the official announcement of Utada Hikaru’s second English album, which is now slated for a seond half 2008 release. Actually, I’m kind of excited. But that’s only because I’m a fan that kind of liked her first English album.

- Some Japanese content makers have decided to embrace the internet video format, uploading their own content either on Youtube, or on their own company’s video site. Of course, I must point out that while GyaO allows foreign users to register, they actually do not allow computers from non-Japanese IP address to view their contents, which, for the lack of a better word, sucks.

- Twitch offers up approximately ten seconds from the upcoming animated film Gatchaman, produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios.

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown reports that after the failed Azn Television in America, the other Asian-American network ImaginAsian is looking at layoffs after a new CEO took over.  This goes to show that mainstream America just doesn’t care.

The Golden Rock - August 25th, 2008 Edition

Woo Hoo! The Olympics are over!

- As always, the first thing we’ll look at is the Hong Kong box office over the weekend by looking at Sunday grosses. Somewhat surprisingly, the Hollywood adventure flick Journey to the Center of the Earth continues its reign at the top of the box office, making HK$1.96 million from 33 screens (a portion of them in 3D and a higher ticket price) on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$19.22 million. Hellboy II also managed to hang on to its 2nd place spot with HK$392,000 from 37 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.83 million.

As for opening films, Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She leads the pack with HK$364,000 from 17 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.38 million, which is a respectable opening gross for a film on just 17 screens. Not so respectable is the opening for the animated film Star Wars Clone Wars, which made only HK$231,000 from 34 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$910,000. The two limited releases this weekend - Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It and Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There - failed to make the top 10, which means neither made more than HK$122,000.

In holdover films, The Dark Knight is still at 4th place with HK$292,000 from 31 screens (a portion from the one IMAX screen charging higher ticket price) for a 39-day total of HK$56.1 millionThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor made HK$187,000 from 36 screens for an inexplicable 25-day total of HK$36.93 million. Lastly, Chan Hing-Ka/Janet Chun’s La Lingerie made HK$122,000 from 22 screens for a not-too-bad 17-day total of HK$8.17 million.

- We also have the audience attendence chart for the Japanese box office. For the 6th week in a row, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot. The comic book adaptation Detroit Metal City, starring Kenichi Matsuyama, debuts impressively at 2nd place. Sex and the City didn’t do too shabby, either, with a 3rd place debut. The Mummy 3 falls to fourth place, and Star Wars Clone Wars could muster only a 6th place debut. Box Office Mojo is still slowly updating their numbers, so this will have to do for no.

- Time to look at the flop that is the Summer 2008 Japanese drama season.  The Monday 9pm Fuji drama Taiyou to Umi no Kyochitsu rebounds from the season-low 10.7 rating last week to a more average 14.7% rating this past week. Shibatora, Gakkouja Oshierarenai, Monster Parents, and Code Blue all recovered from season-low ratings the previous week. Even Koizora, the flop of the season, is seeing an upward trend from one episode to the next.

Still, Code Blue is that only drama this season that is averaging above a 15.0 rating, and that’s because of its highly rated premiere episode. Three dramas are scoring 6’s on the average season rating, and most dramas are barely breaking the 10.0 barrier. Then again, the last time a drama broke the 20.0 rating during the summer season was 2005’s Densha Otoko. Nevertheless, with an average of 15.2% so far, Code Blue is the lowest highest-rated series in a long time.

Note: I don’t count NHK’s hit taiga drama Atsuhime because 1) It doesn’t fit into the season format, which means the average rating doesn’t quite apply, and 2) Ratings only matter for private television station, which NHK is not. If counted, Atsuhime is easily the highest-rated drama of the year, scoring above 25% with most episodes.

-Coming off the commercial disappointment of Sky Crawlers, Mamoru Oshii is going back to live-action with short film in the omnibus film Kiru~Kill. He will also oversee the project.

- Being a fan of Paris Je’Taime, I’m very very excited for the producers’ follow-up New York, I Love You, which will feature films from great directors like Shunji Iwai, Fatih Akin, and Park Chan-Wook. Twitch has the film’s first trailer, even though it’s still in post-production and will only be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival as a work-in-progress. That trailer is worth watching just to see Chris Cooper speak Cantonese.

- Johnny’s man group SMAP is making history with a scheduled 6 shows at the enormous Tokyo Dome. That is the most shows a Japanese musical act has performed in a single tour at the baseball stadium.

- With Takashi Miike’s Sukuyaki Western Django heading to US theaters, Ryuganji has posted an interview in English with the prolific director.

- According to Hong Kong press, Johnnie To is not resting ahead of making his English debut film The Red Circle. Instead, he’s spending the hot summer days with Lau Ching Wan making a new film, and according to the Oriental Daily report, Lau will play a kidnapper in his first villain role. With no official quotes or source of information, Oriental Daily may just be making things up with some pictures.

- The minor Japanese medical mystery hit film Team Batista will be adapted for television, though stars Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi will not be going to TV. Instead, Atsushi Ito will be the lead in Takeuchi’s role because it was actually written as a man in the original novel.

 
 
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