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Archive for the ‘ratings’ Category

The Golden Rock - July 22nd, 2008 Edition

- Japanese cinema attendance figures are in. As expected, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot, with the latest Pokemon movie right behind. As a result, everything gets bumped down by two places, except for One Million Yen Girl, which managed to debut at 10th place. I’d say more when the numbers come out, but I have no idea when that will be.

Jason Gray does have the 3-day holiday weekend numbers for Ponyo. With 1.57 billion yen, the take is actually 96.6% of Spirited Away’s 3-day holiday weekend take. And anyone who wants to rain on Ghibli’s parade should know that Ponyo’s admission was actually 101.6% of Spirited Away’s opening weekend, although that’s also attributed to the larger screen count.

-  Meanwhile, Korean box office figures are also in. As I reported several times already, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird opened huge and is now the third biggest Korean film debut in history (why, oh, why couldn’t it beat D-War?!). Also, now Song Kang Ho is in two of the top three biggest openings in Korean film history as well.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time. The Spring 2008 drama season has officially wrapped up. As mentioned before, CHANGE managed a huge finale rating of 27.4% for a season average of 21.7%. Meanwhile, Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Hachi-One Diver wrapped with just an 8.3% rating, averaging an 8.4% rating for the season. This is the lowest-rated drama at that time slot since Fuji began it a year ago.  The only show left is Rookies, which will wrap this Saturday with a 2-hour episode, even though TBS initially announced that they were not going by a typical season schedule for it.

Most of the Summer 2008 season dramas have started, with Gakkou ja Oshierarenai premiering last week with a 9.9% rating. Meanwhile, Monster Parents has rebounded to a 13% for its 3rd episode, Seigi no Mikata dropped slightly to a 10.1%, Maou continues to drop with a 9.2% for its third episode, Tomorrow also drops slightly to a 13.5%, and detective drama Shibatora also drops slightly to a 12.2%

Code Blue stayed the course with a 16% rating for the second week in a row, Yasuko to Kenji actually saw an increase to 13.1% for its second episode, and the well-received Yottsu no Uso saw a small drop to 10.6%.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$19.71 million after 12 days. 20 million, here we come!

Variety reports that despite the impact  other major summer films had on Red Cliff’s second weekend around Asia, it has now made USD$45 million, which means the two films combined should earn the investors most of their money back.

- Kou Shibasaki and Masaharu Fukuyama will be teaming up again in the studio for their second music collaboration, this time for the film version of their hit drama Galileo.  I hope it’s better than their first song together.

- Don Brown over at Ryuganji reviews the action film Chameleon, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara.

-  With the movie business losing money, Korean film companies are turning to the stage, turning films into musicals in the new musical boom of Korea.

- Tomoworo Taguchi will be making his second Jun Miura adaptation, and Lily Franky shows that he has the acting bug with his second starring role after All Around Us.

-Ryuganji also looks more at Satoshi Miki’s latest, although both videos embedded on the site have been taken down already.

- Disney has acquired their first Bollywood film for North American release, even though it will go straight to video.

- A theater in Beijing has become the first in the world using a laser projector. The technology has not been installed in theaters in American and other countries because of safety regulations, which explain why China managed to take the first step.

- In a further proof to show that Smap is everywhere in Japanese pop culture, the boy band will be singing the theme song for one major network’s Olympic coverage. One of the members will also be a caster for that channel’s coverage for the third Olympic in a row.

The Golden Rock - July 16th, 2008 Edition

Today we’re starting a new feature called “How much money is Red Cliff making in Hong Kong?” Why, you ask? Because we’re into fanning the hype around here.

According to Now.com, as of Tuesday, July 15th, John Woo’s Red Cliff has made:

HK$13.52 million after 6 days

In comparison, the dance-unintentional-howler Kung Fu Hip Hop (also the only other Chinese-language film playing in Hong Kong right now. No, I don’t count Kung Fu Panda) has made HK$80,000 after 6 days, and already lost 4 of its 13 screens on Monday.

- Time to report on what we really do here at Lovehkfilm. Boss Kozo has three reviews, including mega-super-duper moneymaker Red Cliff, Yoji Yamada’s Kabei - Our Mother, and the Western film Children of Huang Shi, which co-stars Chow Yun Fat in a supporting role. Yours truly turns in reviews of the wrestling comedy Gachi Boy - Wrestling with a Memory and the independent award-winning comedy Bare-Assed Japan.

Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett also turns in a review for the Singaporean film The Photograph.

- As reported before, John Woo’s Red Cliff topped the Korean box office. It’s scored the highest opening ever for a Chinese film, and distributor Showbox (who cut the film by 9 minutes) is aiming at 3 million admissions. However, that depends on how The Good, The Bad, and The Weird will do next week.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

Meanwhile, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird has sold its American rights to IFC, who will be rolling the film out in a limited release early next year. No word on whether this will be the Korean cut or the cut that Kim said will include more references to classic Western flicks.  If i live in America, this would be exciting news indeed.

- For some reason, Box Office Mojo isn’t updating their Japanese box office numbers, which means I’m left in the cold for the second weekend in a row for number crunching. Thankfully, Mr. Texas over at Eiga Consultant is reporting the opening weekend gross for Gegege no Kitaro 2. Even though the last film went up against Spiderman 3 in its second weekend, the first film also opened a week before Golden Week, which boosted the film’s second weekend take, and it’s a luxury that the sequel didn’t get. The yokai fantasy film made 230 million yen from 313 screens, and it’s only 73% of the first film’s opening.  Mr. Texas contributes the comparatively lower opening to its seemingly darker tone, though I doubt that there’s an audience conflict with Hana Yori Dango (except for young WaT fans?).

Meanwhile, Ryuganji looks at the relative success of the Japanese newsroom drama Climber’s High, which is aiming for a 1.5-2 billion yen, and is a much-needed hit for all involved.

To no one’s surprise, major Japanese distributor Toho takes the top spot as the top Japanese studio for the first half of 2008, with 13 films passing the 1 billion yen mark.

- Gaga should also be slightly relieved that Climber’s High will probably make its money back, because they wouldn’t have to add it to the approximately USD$18.8 million losses they are forecasting from content alone.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Girl trio group Perfume gets their first #1 single, which is also the first #1 single for a technopop track. Meanwhile, Thelma Aoyama’s follow-up single to her mega-hit Soba ni Iru yo could garner only a 6th place debut. As for the album chart, Orange Range’s latest debuts as expected at first place, while the week’s only other new entry debuts all the way down at 9th place.

More at Tokyograph

- The Kimura Takuya drama CHANGE managed to gain one victory at the end of the Spring 2008 season. While it did not beat Gokusen for the top-rated drama of the season, it got the highest rating for any single episode all season with a 27.4% rating, and it even reached as high as 31.2% during its second half. Reportedly, the finale included a 22-minute speech by Kimutaku the Prime Minister, which sounds like a pretty ballsy move for a TV drama, and will likely be the most long-winded monologue ever recorded in a Japanese TV drama, and there are tons of those.

-  Universal is breathing a sigh of relief now, as The Mummy 3 has been officially cleared by Chinese censors after changes that, according to producer Bill Kong, were supposed “so minor that they scarcely amounted to a cut”, hinting that it may’ve simply cut some shots to make it suitable for all audiences. The film is expected to be released in China after the Olympics to increase its commercial potential.

- Hong Kong broadcaster TVB has signed a deal with Walt Disney to stream some of Disney’s American content on the TVB website free of charge 12 hours after their television broadcast in Hong Kong. Such shows may also include dramas from the Disney-owned ABC network such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. This, however, is not likely to prevent people from downloading shows within hours of their broadcast in America.

Ryuganji has more on director Akira Ogata’s first film since the 80s, which will begin shooting this month.

- (via Twitch) The Star Malaysia talks to John Woo about Red Cliff, in which he admits that he modeled some of his past action heroes after Three Kingdoms character Zhao Zilong.

-  Kaiju Shakedown reveals that when not making his “shit, piss, fart” comedies, Wong Jing actually produces some quality films. One of them is Ann Hui’s latest The Way We Are.

- A Japanese novel about a kid who bikes to search for his long-lost mother is coming to the big screen.

- Meanwhile, chalk one up for China, as a Chinese author has become the first winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize that is not a native speaker of Japanese.  The Akutagawa Prize is the top literary prize in Japan.

The Golden Rock - July 14th, 2008 Edition

- I have no idea where the Hong Kong Film blog get their Hong Kong box office stats from, but that’s who we’re going with today. John Woo’s Red Cliff continued to perform extremely well over the weekend, making HK$3.14 million from 57 screens (didn’t it open on 60?) for a 4-day weekend total of HK$10.69 million. I don’t remember a Chinese film performing this well since CJ7, which made HK$15 million from over 100 screens during its opening weekend during Chinese New Years. With somewhat positive word-of-mouth around the city (some are complaining about the unintentional hilarity, some are complaining about the two-part format), it has a good chance at hitting HK$40 million, despite competition from numerous Hollywood films. I don’t know how the complaint about less shows is relevant, as people will just show up some other time if they can’t get into certain showings. But of course, the endless barrage of Hollywood blockbuster means theaters will have to take something off their screens.

The other opener, the animated film Keroro 3, continues to do well with the kids audience, making HK$850,000 from 30 screens for a 4-day total of HK$2.95 million. It apparently didn’t take too much away from Kung Fu Panda, which still managed to make HK$1.25 million from 50 screens for a current 16-day total of HK$25.8 million, and heading straight to beat Enchanted as the highest-grossing foreign film this year. Hancock didn’t do all that badly in its second weekend, either, with HK$1.52 million from 43 screens with a 11-day total of HK$19.62 million. Wanted has passed the HK$20 million mark after 19 days, making 420,000 from 33 screens, though those screens are only giving the film two to three shows a day.

Kung Fu Hip-hop managed to stay on 13 screens, but it made only HK$17,000 for a 4-day total of HK$60,000. I’ll still be catching this…for some reason.

- Red Cliff has made a total of over USD$25 million in its opening weekend all over Asia, including over 800,000 admissions in Korea and over 100 million RMB from China. Remember the film will need to make roughly USD$160 million to even recoup its cost (much of it will have to come from foreign sales).

- And the Japanese attendance figures for this weekend just came in. Hana Yori Dango Final (which has now passed the 3 million viewer mark, which means it’s passed 3.6 billion yen) and Indiana Jones again take the top 2 spots, with Gegege No Kitaro 2 debuted at 3rd place. Climber’s High dropped slightly to 4th place, and the new Anpan Man movie saw a 6th place opening. Speed Racer slowly fades to obscurity at 7th place, and Ponyo will probably wipe the other weaker performers from the multiplexes this weekend. I hope Box Office Mojo will be updating some numbers soon.

Meanwhile, Eiga Consultant revealed that Speed Racer a similar fate in Japan as it has around the world. On 450 screens (some dubbed, some subbed), the overlooked racing film made only 105 million yen. Actually, Japanese audiences have reacted quite well to both subbed and dubbed versions of the film, so it may stick around a little longer.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! Remaining Spring 2008 drama CHANGE performed very well ahead of its final episode with a 22.3% rating. However, the finale will have to score over 35% for its final episode to beat Gokusen in season average, which means this will be the first Kimura Takuya drama to not take the top spot that season since 1997’s Gift. Meanwhile, Rookie was apparently not on the air this past weekend, and Hachi-One Diver stayed around its average rating with a 8.5% for its second-to-last episode.

As for the current Summer 2008 season,  Monday night drama Ando Natsu (at a rare Monday 8pm time slot) premiered with a 11.6% rating. Detective drama Shibatora premiered with 13%. Seigi no Mikata got started with a 13.2 rating, Yottsu no Uso started with 11.8% rating, and Yasuko to Kenji saw a 12.3% rating for its premiere. For ongoing dramas, Monster Parents failed to hold onto its audience with a drop to 11.6% in its second week. The same went for last week’s ratings winner Code Blue, which dropped down to a 16% rating after a spectacular 21% premiere. The biggest drop went to the lottery drama Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko with ex-GTO Takashi Sorimachi, which lost almost half its audience with a 6.8% rating for its second episode. Tomorrow saw a bit of a drop as well, with a 13.9% second episode after its debut saw a 16.8% rating.

All Japanese drama sypnosis can be found at Tokyograph.

- The people behind the Shanghai International Film Festival and the Shanghai World Expo will be setting up a database of young talents around the world.

- Mark Russell over at Korea Pop Wars gives his mini-review of Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. He also compares the Cannes and Korean versions of the film.

- Hiroyuki Ikeuchi joined the cast of Wilson Yip-Donnie Yen’s Yip Man. In the film, he plays a Japanese soldier who has a showdown with the Yenster himself.

In other casting news, Hiroshi Tamaki will star in another one of those Japanese nationalistic war film, playing a submarine captain during World War II.

- Japanese distributor Movie Eye has announced their release schedule for the rest of 2008 and 2009, one of which includes Nightmare Detective II, which has been pushed to 2009.

- Wanted to post this yesterday: Million Dollar Girl with Yu Aoi will be heading abroad for a festival screening before opening in Japan. Also, there are apparently rumors of Aoi’s behavior on set her TV drama Osen.

- Twitch has a teaser for the Japanese horror flick End Call. What the hell is that all about?

- Some new Hong Kong trailers out there. First is the Stephy underwear flick La Lingerie, then it’s the Charlene Choi starrer Butterfly Lovers, directed by Jingle Ma.

- A Japanese television documentary show that follows celebrities doing homestay abroad is coming to an end, as producers have decided that the show has fulfilled its purpose.

- New York Asian Film Festival co-organizer Brian Naas posts his thoughts about the festival, as well as reveal the results of the audience award, which went (deservedly) to Fine Totally Fine.

The Golden Rock - July 7th, 2008 Edition

- With Will Smith’s Hancock getting thrown into the mix, three Hollywood films took up a bulk of the Hong Kong box office over this past weekend. As expected, the superhero comedy took the top spot with HK$2.97 million from 58 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of $HK10 million. Kung Fu Panda wasn’t far behind, either, with HK$2.43 million from 60 screens for a 11-day total of HK$19.45 million. Wanted is down at third place with HK$1.19 million from 41 screens for an impressive 11-day total of HK$17.43 million. This far outdoes Universal’s previous release, The Incredible Hulk, which has made only HK$12.02 million after 25 days.

Nim’s Island, which didn’t have a very impressive opening day on Thursday, saw a siginificant boost from the family business, making HK$206,000 from 19 screens. It doesn’t sound very good, but that’s more than double the opening day gross. After 4 days, the adventure film has made HK$600,000. The French film Ensemble is also still doing very good limited release business, making HK$44,000 from 4 screens on Sunday, and has since made HK$600,000 after 11 days.

-  In Japanese box office attendance figures, (insert adjective here) Hana Yori Dango Final tops the box office again, with Indiana Jones remaining in second place as well. The newsroom film Climber’s High managed to hit third place, while Speed Racer repeats its fate seen around the world with only a 5th place opening. They tried. More when the numbers come out.

- The new Summer 2008 Japanese drama season has started, and the number one show so far (by a mile) is Code Blue, the medical drama about lots of unbelievable pretty people aseembled into one team of helicopter doctors. On Thursday night, it scored a 21.2% rating, making it the highest number for a Summer drama at the Thursday 10 pm slot, and the 7th highest in the time slot’s history since it Fuji started showing dramas then in 1984. Meanwhile, the over-sensational Monster Parents (I saw the premiere episode in Japan. More on its sensational advertising in the future) premiered with a respectable 14.2% rating, especially when Muri Na Renai had that slot last season. This season’s Japanese remake of a Korean source material, Maou, debut with a 14% rating, which is not bad considering its Friday night slot. Doing not as well on the same night is the lottery drama Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko with ex-GTO Takashi Sorimachi, as it debut with a 12.4% rating. It wasn’t a very good show either. The latest drama with Beach Boys co-star Yotaka Takenouchi, the medical drama Tomorrow, did much better than Ryoteki Na Kanojo with its premiere episode, scoring a 16.8% rating.

Go to Tokyograph to see the description of Summer 2008 dramas.

As for Spring 2008 dramas still on air, CHANGE took a slight drop to under 20% again, and becoming less and less likely to beat Gokusen in the season average. Rookies has a very loyal fanbase, as its ratings continue to hover around 14-15%, and Hachi-One Diver got a big boost to a 9.4% for its 9th episode after the previous episode got only a 6.9% rating.

- John Woo’s Red Cliff is finally being unveiled this weekend throughout Asia, as its 140-minute part 1 will open in Hong Kong, China, Korea, and Taiwan this Thursday.

However, Korea will be getting a shorter version of the film, with distributor Showbox cutting 9 minutes of the film with Woo’s permission (though not necessarily blessings). If the film was so damn meaningful, then why cut even one minute of it?

- Meanwhile, Kaiju Shakedown looks at the slate of super patriotic Chinese films that will probably never sell at film markets around the world.

- A little late, but Jason Gray has posted what is probably the first English-language reaction to the potentially creepy Kodomo no Kodomo (”A Child’s Child”), and apparently it’s really not that bad.

- The Thai government is planning to attract more foreign productions with tax breaks that should come into effect next year. Currently, three high-profile films - one of them Hong Kong - are shooting there.

- The Korean brotherhood classic Friend is coming to television, with original director Kwak Kyung-Taek said to be including new stories that were not included in the original film. Still being written, the drama plans to be on TV early next year.

- Herman Yau, fresh off his latest gangland flick, is already starting work on a new film. This time, the film will be more in the vein of his 2007 film Whispers and Moans. About Hong Kong prostitutes, the film stars 80s-90s pop star Prudence Lau, Anthony Wong, Race Wong, and DJ Sammy. The current Chinese title of the flick directly translate to “I Don’t Sell My Body, I Only Sell my Uterus”.

- According to a producer at Milkyway, Johnnie To has considerably slowed down on productions and will not be following his usual schedule of 2-3 films a year after Sparrow.

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2008 Edition

Catching up on weekend number crunching:

- Time for Japanese box office. As expected, Paramount included last week’s sneak preview numbers to boost their opening weekend figures for Indiana Jones. After deducting the 597 million yen figure reported by Eiga Consultant last week, the actual opening weekend number is actually roughly USD$7,890,000, or 847 million yen from 789 screens. Meanwhile, The Magic Hour continues to do well, losing only 12% of business and now passed the 2 billion yen mark. Aibou continues to have similar holding power, losing only 13.7% of business and is now past the 4 billion yen mark at the box office. In fact, nothing on the top 10 dropped by more than 26% at the box office this weekend, making for quite a healthy weekend in Japan.

In the battle of the two family-friendly films, the music-themed August Rush did much better with a 3rd place debut, thanks to the shameless advertisement, which literally asks potential audience to “please cry”. The other film, the Japanese-language The Witch of the West is Dead, debut all the way down at 6th place, and was actually on less screens to begin with.

- Finally some good news from Korean cinema, as The Public Enemy Returns rocketed to the top of South Korean box office with 1.6 million, outdoing Hollywood challengers Get Smart and 21.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Despite some nonsensical complaints against it, Hollywood’s Kung Fu Panda reached the earthquake-strickened Sichuan Prefecture in China and is expected to do quite well. In fact, it already made about 10 million RMB this past weekend. The fact that the performance artist who complained against the film includes panda images in his work just says so much about his motives anyway.

- It’s Japanese TV drama ratings time! As previously mentioned, this season’s bona-fide hit Last Friends scored a season-high 22.8% rating for its last episode, after a tough start at the beginning of the season. The much talked-about drama has cliched a third-place finish with an average rating of 17.7%. That leaves Gokusen and CHANGE fighting out for first and second place. With Gokusen’s ratings still hovering below 20% this week (a slight rebound to 18.1%, actually), CHANGE may have a chance as it nears its climax these several weeks. Right now, Gokusen has an average of 22.5% (mostly likely to go up with its finale this week), and CHANGE has an average of 21.2%, which means CHANGE is still within reachable distance to a ratings victory this season.

In other ending dramas, Muri Na Renai rebounded with a 7.7% for its final episode, the third season of Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Gakari ends with a season-high 15.4%, Around 40 ends with a 15.1%, and Hokaben ends with an 8.9%. More next week, when many of the remaining dramas wrap up.

- Good news for Hins Cheung, and depressing news for Hong Kong music, as Hin Cheung’s first compilation album became the best-selling album in Hong Kong for the first half of 2008 with only 50,000 copies sold. In fact, the top selling Hong Kong albums are either concerts (Andy Lau, Eason Chan), compilations (Joey Yung, Hins Cheung), or cover albums (Alan Tam). The only original album on the chart is Taiwanese artist Joanna Wang’s debut album, which sold a measly 20,000 copies. This proves the problem in Hong Kong that illegal downloading is so prevalent that an artist’s popularity far precedes their sales figures. Just think: Denise Ho sold out all 7 of her concerts in 2006-2007, which adds up to over 70,000 people. However, her compilation sold only 20,000 copies so far.

Here’s the translated list of the top 10 best-selling albums in Hong Kong from January to May 2008, from this picture on Hong Kong’s Ming Pao:

Hins Cheung’s my 1st Best Collection
Andy Lau’s Wonderful World concert
Eason Chan’s Moving On Stage 1 concert
Love 07 compilation
Joey Yung’s Like Joey compilation
Beyond’s 25th Anniversary compilation
Alan Tam’s The Best Sound Ever Reborn
This is Classical Music compilation
Joanna Wang’s Start From Here
Denise Ho’s Goo Music Collection

-  (via Ryuganji)Ghibli World has a write-up on the latest trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest Ponyo On a Cliff By the Sea, (that’s the official title on the poster), though it followed Ghibli’s policy of providing no video content for the internet. I saw the trailer yesterday, and it looks like a return to simplicity for the master.

- Just as Japan is finished being swept up by promotional wave for The Magic Hour, TBS is now filling their screen with Hana Yori Dango all day just ahead of the film version’s opening this Saturday. After their major promotional event at the Budokan, now it’s a one-hour special on TV just before opening day.

- Despite Japan’s aggressive policy to push people to get into digital broadcasting (the previously-mentioned “analog” screen text will begin next month), a survey reveals that only about 43% of all Japanese TV-watching households are digital-ready.

- The Chinese government has enacted a law requiring all media to give the government’s emergency response efforts free publicity, part of a larger law that requires more efficient emergency reporting during large-scale disasters.

- What kind of TV actually otdoes Japan is doing low-brow reality shows? America’s ABC, for actually putting the words “holy sushi” in the ad for a xenophoblic show like “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”.

- Twitch has an interview with director Ryo Iwamatsu, whose latest film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival.

- After the surprise success of Dai Nipponjin, comedian/director/actor Hitoshi Matsumoto is reportedly already polishing the script for his follow-up film, while a possible sequel for Dai Nipponjin is also being discussed.

The Golden Rock - June 16th, 2008 Edition

Back from a short weekend trip, but will be heading out for a day trip to Tokyo tomorrow.  Don’t worry, I’ll make it up somehow.

Anyway, it’s too early for box office numbers, although numbers from Hong Kong last Friday suggest that the new Incredible Hulk will do moderate business, with Narnia being bumped to second place. More on Wednesday.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! The Spring 2008 drama is finally coming to a close in the next several weeks (except for CHANGE, which is in the middle right now). The real success this season has been the controversial Last Friends, which premiered with only a  13.9% rating.  However, its hot topic subject matters (Domestic violence! Gender crisis!) helped lift it to a season-high 20.9% rating for its second-to-last episode this  past week. However, Fuji executives are probably still sweating over CHANGE, which saw the second consecutive week of under-20% rating, although it did rebound slightly. I know a few readers out there have been wondering why I keep calling it a disappointment, despite its second place standing. However, imagine a TV drama starring Andy Lau getting beat in the ratings by a drama starring Stephy Tang. A Kimura Takuya drama is usually the top drama of the season, and I think it might’ve been hurt by the secrecy-filled promotional campaign and the extremely late start. Then again, maybe Japanese people really don’t care so much about political dramas.

Actually, ratings leader Gokusen suffered a huge drop for this week’s episode, losing to CHANGE and Last Friends with only a season-low 17.6% rating. If I remember correctly, the second installment of the drama never dipped below 20% during its  run in 2005. However, since all the dramas on Saturday and Sunday took a dip from the previous week, there’s a small chance that the major earthquake in the Northeast area of the main island might have affected television viewership. The most affected drama has to be Ryoteki Na Kanojo (It doesn’t translate to My Sassy Girl, but it’s what it is), which has not yet become the lowest drama in average ratings, but broke the 6.0 rating mark with a 5.9% rating for this week’s episode. Meanwhile, the drama with that dubious honor, Muri Na Renai, dropped again to a 6.3% rating ahead of its final episode.

Dramas that got their season-high ratings this week (and has not been mentioned) are Hokaben, Shin Kasouken no Onna, Shichi Nin no Onna Bengoshi with 9.6%, 17.1%, and 11.7%. Other than Gokusen and Ryoteki Na Kanojo, no other drama saw season-low ratings this week. Lastly, Friday night 11 pm TV Asahi drama Kimi Wa Hannin janai yo ne? wrapped up with a 9.4% rating for its final episode and an 8.9% average for the season.

- The Shanghai International Film Festival has started, with Hollywood Reporter Asia providing full coverage. However, it’s opening has not been the smoothest. First, organizers had to go for a more subdued approach to the opening after the Sichuan Earthquake. Then the press screening of the opening film had to be canceled because the print didn’t arrive. However, things are still pretty promising, with two foreign films getting their premieres. This is a big deal because the SIFF didn’t have a world premiere until 2006.

Also, going smoothly at the same time is the Shanghai Television Festival, where TV writers from Hollywood came together in a forum and presented an exhibition on editing.

- Meanwhile, the troubled Bangkok International Film Festival has finally set a date for this year’s edition, and will partly overlap the Thailand Entertainment Expo.

- Japanese animation director Kunio Kato picked up the top prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which is known as the “Cannes of animation”. The 12-minute film also picked up the Junior Jury Award under the short film section.

- After the success of The Magic Gourd in China (and pretty much nowhere else), Disney is getting ready to release their second film aimed squarely at the Chinese market. Coincidentally, the film, now in post-production, is about pandas and shot in the earthquake-affected Sichuan Province. Don’t be surprise if they reshoot to make it a disaster movie.

- The so-called “New Queen of S&M” in Japanese cinema is suffering a bit of a setback, with magazines featuring her pictures actually selling less, while her latest film is a dud in limited release. Mark Schilling of Japan Times reviewed the film earlier this month.

- Another Japanese drama sequel is on the way next season, as summer 2007 drama Sono Otoko, Fukushocho is coming back for a second round this summer.

See you all back at the same time, same page on Wednesday.

The Golden Rock - June 11th, 2008 Edition

- The Japanese box office numbers have come in at Box Office Mojo. As reported yesterday, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour made over 500 million yen this past weekend (which amounts to about 4.87 million in American dollars). I would guess the three big local openers caused everything else to lose business, but the next opener, The Taste of Fish, is all the way down at 7th place (probably at 6th place of the attendance chart because it attracted older audiences.), and Takashi Miike’s God’s Puzzle showed up all the way down at 12th place with just over 15 million yen from 198 screens.

The lowest drop in the top 10, for Kenji Uchida’s After School, was still at 35%. Even Aibou lost over 47% of its business while still managing to hang on at 3rd place, while Narnia is still doing huge business, despite losing 46% of business from the previous week. The biggest drop of the week goes to 27 Dresses, which lost a Hulk-sized 62% drop from its opening week. Ouch.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Kat-tun gets their 10th consecutive number 1 release with their latest album, and is only the 4th group to do so. Even SMAP hasn’t been able to pull that off yet. Meanwhile, GReeeN continues to hold onto their number one spot on the single chart, barely fending off challenger Tackey and Tsubasa’s theme for the drama Osen.

More at Tokyograph

- The Akihabara random stabbing case in Tokyo has caused TBS to pull an episode of their drama on Monday night because it features a street stabbing scene that may be too close to the real thing. Also, Sunday’s incident boosted NHK’s 7pm newscast on Sunday to a 21.0% rating, higher than the usual 15-18% rating that time slot gets on Sundays. This is also because NHK is probably the least sensationalist out of all the Japanese television news  media, who have jumped to label this guy as the “otaku monster” who uses his cell phone too much.

- China has began a strict registration system for Chinese citizens working for overseas media during the Olympics. The organization Reporters Without Borders is calling this Beijing’s way of restricting so-called “fixers” for oversea agencies. So how many initial promises for press freedom has the government broken by now?

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at the new low of the Korean film industry and wonders if it can be attributed to the reduction of the screen quota system last year.

- There’s still good news for Korea though, as TV drama Jewel in the Palace has become a massive hit in Hungary, scoring 30-plus% ratings.

- A new Korean film uses rotoscoping (think Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly) to not only recreate a 600-year old structure, but also to add Jennifer Aniston in the movie. That is cool, indeed.

-  With the crossover success of Koizora and other Japanese cell phone novels, you’d think that they’re only for teenagers. Apparently, housewives have plenty of time to read them too, if the content is right.

- Producers of Japanese content and hardware such as Disney, Sony, Universal, the “big three”, Sharp, among others have come together to form the Digital Entertainment Group. Together they will decide how to promote the next generation of digital entertainment. I hope that doesn’t include price regulations as well.

- Major Japanese film critic Haruo Mizuno has died at the age of 76. His influence was far and wide, including being credited with suggesting the Japan Academy Awards and commented on over 1200 films on a Japanese television program.

The Golden Rock - June 10th, 2008 Edition

Lots of number crunching today, so here we go:

- As expected, Narnia got a huge boost over the weekend at the Hong Kong box office as the younger audience turned up in droves over the holiday weekend. On Monday (the public holiday), the adventure epic made HK$3 million from 72 screens for a 5-day total of HK$11.27 million. Meanwhile, Sex and the City didn’t its Narnia-sized bump because of its restricted rating, although it didn’t do too damn bad either. From 43 screens, the TV adaptation made HK$6.38 million over the 5-day weekend. Of course, remember that both films had a ticket price increase due to their lengths, so it may not necessarily reflect attendance.

Meanwhile, all the openers from last weekend dwindled down to 5-digit numbers this past weekend. Penelope leads the pack with HK$93,000 from 15 screens for a 12-day total of HK$2.86 million. The Moss is struggling to get to The Pye-Dog’s gross with only HK$57,000 from 13 screens and a 12-day total of HK$1.22 million. It deserves better. Shaolin Girl took a big dive in its second weekend, with just HK$25,000 from 14 screens on Monday, and a 12-day total of HK$1.25 million. And despite being the Academy Award winner for best foreign film, The Counterfeiters doesn’t seem to be destined for limited release success, with only HK$250,000 after 12 days on 3 screens.

Lastly, Indiana Jones finally passes the HK$25 million mark after 19 days, while Iron Man is still on the top 10 after 41 days with a HK$21.69 million total.

- The Japanese entertainment news media had a busy weekend, as the “big three” (Toei, Toho, and Shochiku) each had a wide release this weekend. As expected, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour took the top spot in the attendance chart. According to Variety, it made a spectacular 506 million yen from 379 screens over the opening Saturday and Sunday. Since The Wow-Choten Hotel never made it to Hong Kong, I’m even going to venture into this while I’m here and see what the fuss is all about (although I’m sure I won’t understand half the movie).

Meanwhile, the Tsukiji movie (now named The Taste of Fish as a first in a planned yearly series) is relying on word-of-mouth it make it profitable with only a 6th place opening. Takashi Miike’s God’s Puzzle didn’t even make it in the top 10 in attendance and is not likely to gross enough to surpass 27 Dresses in gross. At least Toei still has Aibou the movie, which is still in 3rd place this weekend. More when the numbers are out.

-  Things are depressing in South Korea, as local films made up only 7.8% of total market share at the box office in May, making it Korean cinema’s worst month ever since the relevant authorities started counting.

Meanwhile,  June isn’t starting out very well, with only one Korean film making the top 10 this past weekend all the way down at 5th place. Last year, the similar happened with the endless summer assault of Hollywood blockbusters, but things may even be worse this year.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! As the season moves closer to the end, several dramas hit their season low. These dramas include Zettai Kareshi, Osen, Puzzle, Around 40, Kimi Wa Hanin Janai yo ne?, and Ryoteki na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl) at 12.1%, 8.4%, 8.0%, 13.3%, 7.7%, and 6.3%, respectively. Baseball drama Rookies started its second part with an average 15.4% rating, while Gokusen fell again slightly to a 21.3% rating, and remains the highest-rated drama of the season so far. Kimura Takuya’s CHANGE is high up at 2nd place, but fell below 20% for the first time. As it reaches the middle just when other dramas are hitting their finales, I think Fuji is trying to boost ratings as the only drama still on the air for the season when everything else is over.

- Zhang Ziyi is heading to Hollywood once again, acting opposite Hugh Grant this time as a Chinese director working with a top British star and a translator in their way.

- It’s trailers time! Nippon Cinema has a trailer for Monster X Strikes Back, about a monster named Gurara attacking the G8 Summit and Beat Takeshi showing up to save mankind. It’s all in the trailer. Twitch has the link to a trailer and comparison shots for the newly redrawn and re-sounded Ghost in the Shell 2.0. Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown links us to the full-length trailer of Detroit Metal City, which looks like a fun dose of absurd Japanese humor.

- In related news, a single featuring Detroit Metal City star Kenichi Matsuyama as two characters will be released along with the film.

- Variety’s Justin Chang offers up a review of the new Japanese sports film Dive!, which opens this weekend in Japan.

- Under “celebrities looking for a PR opportunity from natural disaster” news today, director Chen Kaige will be taking a break from post-production of his latest film to direct a short film for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake about successful Chinese sports player to show Chinese people overcoming difficulties. I’m sure after The Promise, he needs all the goodwill he can get for his latest. Why, yes, I have been told that I’m cynical.

A Bee Gee member jumps on the bandwagon to criticize China for something. Granted, said Bee Gee member is the head of the CISAC, and he’s talking about something legitimate like rightful royalty payment to artists that are not being paid, but really, take a number and get in line.

- Bittorrent Japan has made 27 films and animation videos available for free for 3 days ahead of the Interop conference in Tokyo. Here’s the page.

The Golden Rock - June 3rd, 2008 Edition

- Korean cinema takes a huge tumble this past weekend at the Korean box office, with foreign films taking 9 out of 10 places in this past weekend’s chart. And the only Korean film only made it to 9th place. Ouch.

Box office gross from Korea Pop Wars

Attendance figures from Twitch.

- Prince Caspian seems to be staying at the Japanese box office charts for the long run, losing only 16.2% of its opening weekend gross this weekend. Aibou is in it even longer, continuing to lose only single-digit percentage (9.5% this week). Meanwhile, Cyborg She’s opening of 178 million yen. I guess The Bucket List is a favorite among adult audiences, making enough money to surpass 27 Dresses for 6th place in the gross ranking and losing only 16.4 of business (though 27 Dresses ranked higher on the attendance chart). Kenji Uchida’s After School also played strongly in the second weekend, losing only 11.7% of business on the same amount of screens. Oh, and Shoot ‘Em Up opened at 16th place.

-  I seemed to have forgotten to report the Japanese drama ratings for last week. Everything seems to be floating in the weeks leading to the finales. Only two dramas - New Investigator Mariko and Shichinin no Onna Bengoshi - hit their season high with 14.2 and 11.4, respectively. Last Friends got a big boost again up to 18.8% after two weeks of slipping ratings. CHANGE and Gokusen risk falling down below 20% (it actually finally happened to CHANGE this week, but more on that next week), although Gokusen rose slightly in the ratings for its latest episode. And Ryoteki Na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl) is the only drama to hit a season-low this week. And to think the producers expected a 20% rating for this.

Japanese drama sypnoses at Tokyograph

- Finally, an American remake of the hit Death Note films has been announced. Though no word whether they’ll try to cram both films into one.

-  The bus stop ads for Lawrence Lau’s City Without Baseball has been changed after one person complained to the bus company about the upper male nudity in the poster. The film’s co-director has snapped back, complaining that Hong Kong is becoming increasingly conservative. I guess one person can make a difference in this world after all.

- It’s trailers time! Twitch has uploaded an extended trailer for the first installment of the comic adaptation 20th Century Boys. Also, Nippon Cinema has a short trailer for the live-action version of Grave of the Butterflies.

- Fans of Weezer and/or BoA, you now have a reason to pick up the Japanese version of Weezer’s latest album.

- What was meant to be a promotional event for a drink by American group The Black Eyed Peas is now a charity concert for the Sichuan earthquake fundraising efforts. Good for them.

- Grady Hendrix over at Kaiju Shakedown covers the messy situation going on between Raymond Wong and Wong Kar-wai over the title for their Yip “master of Bruce Lee” Man movie. Sorry, Mr. Wong, I’m putting my bet on Wong Kar-Wai to make the better movie anyway.

-  Japanese pop star/Nana-in-real-life Mika Nakashima is forming a band with a comedienne trio. No word on the comical or musical value of the product.

- Warner Bros. continues to expand its presence in Asia with a new deal to make an animated film about birds in India.

- Rinko Kikuchi would like to expand outside her cultural zone and play….a half-Japanese role.

The Golden Rock - May 26th, 2008 Edition

The trade papers took a break because it’s Memorial Day. As a result, it’ll be a somewhat short entry today.

- As expected, the Hong Kong box office was dominated by Indiana Jones over the weekend, and it ended up getting a very big boost over the weekend. On 101 (!) screens, the adventure film made HK$3.7 million on Sunday, and a 4-day total of HK$12.06 million. Definitely no underperforming here. Meanwhile, Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind actually did the second best in terms of per-screen average, making HK$137,000 from 11 screens on Sunday as the only other film to pass the HK$10,000 per screen mark. After 11 days, the film has made HK$1.48 million.

Iron Man is still in second place in its 4th weekend, making HK$243,000 from 32 screens for a 26-day total of HK$21.06 million. What Happens in Vegas is still doing OK with HK$231,000 from 30 screens for a 18-day total of HK$6.5 million, which is a little better than average for this type of films in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Speed Racer is now only on 8 screens, and made only HK$28,000 on Sunday for an 18-day total of HK$2.71 million.

The Japanese family film Tale of Mari and Three Puppies is still around with HK$95,000 from 23 screens for a 25-day total of HK$7.15 million, which is the best performing Japanese film in Hong Kong since Hero. That’s right, dogs are more appealing than Kimura Takuya here in Hong Kong.

- As expected, The Chronicles of Narnia took over as box office champ at the Japanese box office. The sequel finally bumped Aibou off the top spot down to 2nd place. Meanwhile, Rambo opened at 3rd place, Katsuhito Ishii’s Yama No Anata opens at6th place, and Kenji Uchida’s After School opens at 7th place. Poor Charlie Wilson’s War fell all the way from 3rd place last week to 8th place this week, which signals not-very-good word-of-mouth in Japan. More when the numbers are released.

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time! It was kind of a quiet week at the Japanese drama world this past week. CHANGE fell very slightly in the ratings to 23% for its second episode, while Gokusen’s season-low rating of 21.1% this week may give the Kimura Takuya drama a chance to catch up. Meanwhile, Zettai Kareshi and Puzzle both hit their season-low this week, falling to 12.4% and 8.9%, respectively. In fact, only one drama, the third season of Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Kagari, hit its season-high this week with 12.4%.

Last Friends continue to go back down to its original average numbers with a 16% rating for its 7th episode, Osen falls slightly down to 9%, 81 Diver takes a steep drop to 8.4% after its season-high rating the previous week, Muri Na Renai falls slightly again to a 6.6%, and Ryoteki Na Kanojo (My Sassy Girl)is also down slightly at 7.6%.

All drama sypnoses are at Tokyograph.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review of Singaporean director Eric Khoo’s latest My Magic, which was competing at the Cannes Film Festival.

- Jason Gray reports that The Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase has officially announced her plans to create the Nara International Film Festival, which she hopes can join the ranks of the “big three” - Cannes, Berlin, and Venice.

-  Some Hong Kong netizens are complaining that the newposter for the new Incredible Hulk film is a rip-off of the poster for Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai’s Running on Karma. Judge for yourself.

- Japanese author Haruki Murakami talks about his side job as a translator of classic American novels to Japanese.

 
 
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