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Archive for the ‘remake’ Category

The Golden Rock - May 13th, 2009 Edition

That’s right, it’s a news post!

- Let’s first look at Hong Kong box office for the past week, courtesy of the Hong Kong Filmart site. The biggest surprise may be the opening for Lu Chuan’s Nanking Massacre film The City of Life and Death. On a limited 15-screen release, it managed to make HK$1.24 million over 4 days. This is easily the best-performing Mainland Chinese film in a long time, though the excellent production value and sensational subject probably helped it plenty.  I expect at least a HK$3 million take.

The next best performing debut film is Disney’s Chinese film The Trail of the Panda, which opened on 27 screens and only recorded a 4-day take of HK$725,000. I guess we don’t care as much about pandas as Americans care about 3D animated dogs. Meanwhile, Wolverine stayed on the top for its second week and has since made HK$12.5 million. However, it’s losing steam quickly, especially with Angels and Demons opening this week, which means it should top out under HK$15 million. 17 Again takes second place with a solid HK$5.8 million take and a very slow descent, which means it may end up with about HK$8 million. Not bad for a Zac Efron movie in Hong Kong.

Wong Jing’s I Corrupt All Cops (self-whoring time: My LHKF review) lost a modest 53% during its second week in business with HK$4.6 million after 11 days, and likely to do close to HK$6 million. The Japanese comedy Handsome Suits, which is only being shown with a Cantonese dubbed version (2 shows of the Japanese version at one theater barely counts), has made HK$3.5 million, and the church-backed film Team of Miracle: We Will Rock You is miraclously still in theaters (probably with showings paid by churches) with HK$2.1 million after 37 days.

- However, Disney is probably more optimistic about the performance of Trail of the Panda in China, where the film opened the weekend before the first anniversary of the Sichuan Earthquake. The film was near the end of its shoot in Sichuan when the earthquake happened. A film cashing in on a real-life disaster? What is this, Hollywood?

- In Korean box office, the comedy My Girlfriend is An Agent continues to dominate, even with Star Trek opening this past weekend. Meanwhile, Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst has already found 1.7 million admissions, which is a great rebound for Park from the box office disappointment that was I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK. Also, with Daniel Hanney in a supporting role, I’m surprised Wolverine hasn’t done better than only 1.1 million admissions after two weeks.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- Speaking of Thirst, which will be competing at the just-opened Cannes Film Festival, Koreanfilm.org’s Darcy Paquet has written a review for Screen Daily. Also, Hollywood Reporter has an interview with director Park Chan-Wook.

- In Japan, the tearjerker April Bride, starring Eita and directed by Vibrator director Ryuichi Hiroki, hit the top spot with 412 million yen from a modest 310 screens. The popular animated Conan film has dropped below Red Cliff II, which is holding on to its seocnd place standing. Kazuaki “Casshern” Kiriya’s Goemon drops to 4th place in its second weekend, but has already made 900 million yen after 10 days. It’s almost certain that it’ll do better than Casshern at this point. After 30 days, Crows Zero II has made more than 2.6 billion yen and has surpass the take of the first installment. I haven’t seen the film, but who’s betting that there really won’t be a third film?

Outside the top 10, Peter Chan’s Warlords opened at 12th place, and the Pang Brother’s Hollywood remake of Bangkok Dangerous opened only at 13th place. I guess it wasn’t as well-liked as these pachinko ads.

Sources: The Japanese box office blog, Screen Daily

-  The Hong Kong and Chinese governments has added new amendments to the 2003 CEPA agreement, which was responsible for allowing China-Hong Kong co-productions and is responsible for today’s HK cinema climate. The new amendment includes one that allows Hong Kong film distributor to directly release home video versions of approved co-production films. But what difference does it make when everyone downloads in China anyway?

-  Under “how the world sucking affects the film world” news today, the second annual Phuket Film Festival in Thailand has been cancelled because of the political turmoil and the logistic nightmare the ASEAN meeting was supposed to cause the region.

Meanwhile, Japan film distributor/producer Wide Policy, who last distributed Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution in Japan, has filed for bankruptcy.

Also, Japan’s Usen is planning to sell major film distributor Gaga Communications. Gaga has been troubled since it announced to stop acqusitions and productions last year, though it still distributes films with and for other companies.

- On the other hand, under “the world sucking has nothing to do with making films” news today, Takashi Miike, coming off the successes of Yatterman and Crows Zero II, will be remaking the 1963 film Thirteen Assassins with Jeremy “Last Emperor” Thomas on board as producer.

Korea’s Sidus has signed on as a co-producer for the remake of the classic Hong Kong martial arts film The One-Armed Swordsman with Hong Kong’s Celestial Pictures, to be directed by the director of Musa: The Warrior. No word on who will be starring, though.

Hong Kong’s Edko, who will next be releasing Blood: The Last Vampire, has signed a 3-film co-financing deal with America’s Focus Features. The three films will include Yuen Wo-Ping’s latest film, starring Michelle Yeoh, Jay Chou, and David Carradine.

Peter Chan Ho-Sun’s next film will be for his new production company Cinema Popular, and is now being touted as the first superhero film from China. Also in Cinema Popular’s slate is a serial killer movie set in Hong Kong, which I wonder how it’ll get into China.

And Singapore is telling the world that they have plenty of money to make films - about 17-20, to be exact.

- Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle will be the head of the jury at this year’s Shanghai Film Festival, happening mid-June.

- Twitch has a teaser for the big-budget Korean disaster film Haeundae, which has been getting quite a bit of attention at the recent film markets.  It looks like Deep Impact meets Poseidon. That’s not a compliment.

- Korean star Lee Byung-Hun will come off his role in the highly-anticipated TV drama Iris with…….Iris: The Movie.

- Lastly, Star Trek director JJ Abrams claims during his promotional appearance in Japan that he’s a fan of the idol group AKB48. Not sure how that’s relevant to this blog, I just find it funny.

Not sure when the next news post will be, but that’s it for now.

The Golden Rock - January 16th, 2009 Edition

Didn’t get to report on those other Asian box office numbers. Here we go:

- From 73 screens, Red Cliff II saw a very good opening day in Hong Kong with HK$1.73 million. However, that is actually below the opening of part 1, and it’s going up against the opening of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea. Then again, it has the extended Chinese New Year holiday going for it, and it will certainly have better word-of-mouth than the first movie to carry it to success.

- A quiet weekend at the Taiwan box office, as no Chinese films ended up on the top 10. The Hollywood caper film Thick as Thieves managed a second place opening, and the best-performing Chinese film was Forever Enthralled all the way down at 11th place. The Taiwan-based political thriller Ballistic didn’t really interest anyone and could only get a 13th place opening. Red Cliff II also opened in Taiwan for this weekend, so that will probably rule the box office and bump everything else off.

- In Japan, a 3-day weekend didn’t help boost business at the box office, as Wall-E wins another weekend despite losing 41% in grosses. It’s nice to see K-20 still hanging at 3rd place with a loss of only 28.7% in gross, even though it’s only made half of the 3 billion yen Toho was hoping to make after 4 weekends.  Surprising is how well Thread of Destiny is performing, considering the fact that the TV drama is only doing single-digit ratings for the first three weeks. Things may pick up with Pandemic opening and sneak preview shows for Quantum of Solace this weekend.

- Another film opening this weekend in Japan is Ramen Girl, starring Brittney Murphy as an American trying to learn how to make ramen in Japan. The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the film. I hope she pulls it off before her visa expires.

- Japan’s Blue Ribbon Awards handed out its Best Film award to Climber’s High, the real-life drama about a newspaper covering a plane crash, and in a surprise pick, Hirokazu Kore-eda for Best Director for his work on Still Walking. All Around Us also got some love, with Tae Kimura taking the Best Actress award and Lily Franky taking Best Newcomer.

- I don’t care about it so much, but I’m sure lots of anime fans worldwide are fuming that Fox has announced that the live-action version of Cowboy Bebop will be starring Keanu Reeves.

- Zhang Yimou, who last earned some brownie points with the Chinese government with the Olympic ceremonies, will reportedly take on directing duties for the PRC 60th anniversary show. Please go back to making movies soon, Mr. Zhang. The rest of the moviegoing public of the world misses you.

- 2008 Golden Rock of the Year Jero has taken on his first acting role in a film as a thug who has several jobs. Considering that it’s based on a Kankuro Kudo play, this should be interesting.

The Golden Rock - January 14th, 2009 Edition

A big change has come regarding the Hong Kong box office news provided on this blog. Since my usual source now.com has decided to stop its box office stats page, I will now only be able to report on Hong Kong box office once a week. My source now will be the Hong Kong Filmart website, which offers comprehensive stats only once a week. Hopefully, a better source will come along soon.

- No Japan box office numbers yet, but the attendence ranking is out. Surprisingly, Steven Soderbergh’s first Che movie landed on 2nd place in its first weekend. According to Mr. Texas at Eiga Consultant, it made 139 million yen from 248 screens nationwide in its first two days of release (even though it was a 3-day holiday weekend), and that the 47 theaters in the 9 major metropolitan areas accounted for 47% of the gross. So while the per-screen average is roughly 560,000 yen, the per-screen average in the major cities is much higher at roughly 1.21 million yen. However, with 42% of Moviewalker voters giving the first film a C, I doubt the second film will do as well when it comes out in three weeks.

Other than that, with the exception of The Day the Earth Stood Still taking a dive to 4th place, everything else remains fairly stable.

- Japan will get its first major domestic release this weekend with virus disaster film Pandemic, and Jason Gray provides a fairly lengthy review of it on his blog.

- In China, Red Cliff 2 was so huge that it already made over 100 million yuan over the opening weekend. Of course, it probably opened on a whole lot of screens to get to that number. With the Lunar New Year holiday underway in China, looks like it might actually make its budget back just with the Chinese box office gross. I’ll be catching this tomorrow night here in Hong Kong.

- In Korea, only two films on the top 10 this past weekend are local releases, but they also happen to be the highest-grossing releases on the top 10 by far.

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

- The Winter 2009 Japanese drama season is underway, with a few major drama premiering this past week. The Ryo Kase-Yukie Nakama drama Arifureta Kiseki saw a soft opening with only a 12.5% rating. Meanwhile, the 4th season of Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi makes its premiere at primetime (which means less of the risque content that made it special before at its old late-night timeslot), and got a respectable 11.9% rating. The Yosuke Eguchi-Goro Inagaki-Ryoko Hirose mystery drama Triangle started off with only an OK-14.7% rating.

Meanwhile, Akai Ito has benefitted from the film version with a boost to a 10% rating for its latest episode. Not in the linked chart, but the Code Blue special episode had a 23.1% rating, which is even higher than its highest-rated episode. Don’t be surprised if it’ll be heading to the big screen soon.

Next week will be the premiere of the Monday night 9pm Fuji drama and the second episode dips of the dramas mentioned above.

Visit Tokyograph for the Winter 2009 drama sypnosis.

-  On the Japan Oricon charts, the first solo single by Tackey (of Tackey and Tsubasa) scored first place on the singles chart, while Ai no Mama de has proven to be this year’s benefactor of the “Kohaku Effect” (songs not quite well-known previously gets a huge bump after appearing on the yearly Kohaku Uta Gassen music extravaganza on New Year’s Eve). Ikimono Gakari’s album gets bumped down to 3rd place in its second week by two compilation albums. Such is the tragedy of J-pop sales.

More on Tokyograph.

- Jackie Chan will likely be joining the cast of the remake of The Karate Kid, starring Will Smith’s son, as the titular character’s master. I wonder whether Jackie will be playing a Japanese character (Karate is, after all, Japanese), and how Chinese netizens will be reacting to that one.

- An interesting article from Hollywood Reporter reports that Oscar favorite Slumdog Millionaire may not do very well in India because of the harsh reality of India it portrays, despite its popularity overseas.

- Another possibly risky release is the Taiwanese blockbuster Cape No. 7, which finally has a set release of Valentine’s Day after the distributor pulled its initial release after rumors that it was out of fear of a disgruntled nationalistic audience and political reasons (the official reason was something about the subtitles). However, it will be slightly altered for some bad language, which probably includes its famous opening line.

- The Academy has announced its short list for the Best Foreign Film nominee, and Japan’s Departures managed to get on it. If nominated, it would be the first Japanese film since Yoji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai to receive a Best Foreign Film nomination. Also glad to see France’s The Class on that short list.

Not exactly a surprise, but neither Painted Skin nor China’s Olympic documentary Dream Weaver got on that short list.

- The atrocious Hana Yori Dango Final has spent its 4th consecutive week at the top of the Japanese DVD sales chart, and is now the 3rd best-selling Japanese DVD in history. It just means Japanese people need to buy more DVDs of better movies and that they need to be charged less for it.

- Despite having premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in 2006, Jia Zhangke’s Still Life didn’t get a North America release until 2008, which made it qualified for the various critics awards. This is why it managed to win two awards at the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Cinematography.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review for Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 2, which satisfied this blogger’s need for a muay Thai fix. though not the need for a compelling story.

The Golden Rock - January 12th, 2009 Edition

Happy new year again, all! Back from a trip over break, and now back in Hong Kong ready for a new year of Golden Rock blogging. News will be a bit light, as I’m trying to ease back into the blogging routine. Good thing today was a holiday in Japan, so box office and drama ratings stats will be coming in slowly.

- Ip Man leads an amazing 4th weekend at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, Wilson Yip’s action/biopic took in another HK$619,000 from 38 screens for a 25-day total of HK$23.91 million. HK$25 million should be no problem, though I think Red Cliff should take away momentum that 30 million is not going to be possible. In a bit of a surprise, Milkyway’s PTU spin-off film Tactical Unit - Comrade in Arms nearly won the weekend with HK$614,900 from 32 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.28 million, and it may end up wrapping up with about HK$5 million, which would exceed PTU’s original theatrical gross.

The weekend’s other wide opener, Australia, couldn’t score any blockbuster number due to a limited amount of showings and multiplex putting it on their smaller screens. With a ticket price inflation due to length, the epic romance made HK$584,000 from 32 screens for a total of HK$2.49 million from 4 days of wide release and several preview showings over the holidays.

Meanwhile, most of the New Year day openers have suffered steep drops. Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook, which is one of the most blatant example of Chinese censorship interference of Hong Kong cinema, made only HK$387,000 from 39 screens and has made HK$6.51 million after 11 days. Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 2 suffered an even worse fate, making only HK$159,000 from 35 screens (many of those playing a reduced number of showings) and has made only HK$4.93 million after 11 days, certainly a bit underwhelming considering Tom Yom Goong made distributor Edko over HK$10 million.

The only film from New Year’s day that’s still doing well is Forever Enthralled. Despite the Hong Kong press making up stories about underwhelming box office, it’s actually doing fairly decent business for a film that was released only on 11 screens with limited showings. On Sunday, the Chen Kaige film made HK$171,000 from 11 screens for a 11-day total of HK$2.26 million. That’s an average of HK$205,000 per day from 11 screens, and anything that can still average a HK$15,000+ per-screen daily is definitely not flopping.

Other box office totals: Madagascar 2 - HK$17.92 million after 24 days. Twilight - HK$16.41 million after 24 day. Suspect X - 11.94 million after 19 days. Bedtime Stories - HK$8.97 million after 18 days.

- Variety’s Derek Elley sends in a fairly positive review of John Woo’s Red Cliff, Part II. He calls the two movies combined “one of the great Chinese costume epics of all time”. Part II better be damn good enough to earn that title in my book.

-  Who didn’t expect this to happen? The Japanese comedy-drama Departures was the big winner at another Japanese film awards, this time the Kinema  Junpo Awards. The complete list of winners, including their top 10 domestic and foreign films, can be found here.

- They keep trying, but it won’t stop - major Chinese film producer Huayi Brothers is suing China’s top web portals for spreading illegal copies of their biggest films. Forget it, these days I’m being ridiculed for being a consumer of legit DVDs.

- Even though it’s not doing great business in Japan (roughly 650 million yen as of the weekend before last), Shochiku and Fuji TV are planning an Asia-wide release of their film-TV project Threads of Destiny. I don’t know how just releasing the film will work if the story is meant to be connected with the TV drama, which hasn’t been shown legally outside of Japan.

-Bless the good folks at Tokyograph for putting up their guide to the Winter 2009 Japanese dramas.

- Hong Kong director Derek Yee is now officially in the running for the Golden Rock of the Year after he admits that his latest film The Shinjuku Incident will give up the Mainland China market and go straight to Japan in March and Hong Kong in April because cutting the violence for a Mainland-approved “harmonious” version will just lead to disgruntled audience screaming “fraud!”. Good call, Mr. Yee and Emperor Films.

For those that don’t know, The Shinjuku Incident is the long-awaited Derek Yee film that features Jackie Chan in his first dramatic/non-action role.

- Danny Boyle, who just picked up a Golden Globe for Best Director, reveals that he’s been asked to direct a remake of Park Chan-wook’s Lady Vengeance. No word whether he said yes or no.

- Japanese actor Jo Odagiri’s first feature film as a director has been invited to the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The actor has been working on the film since it started shooting in the summer of 2006, and he finally completed the film two months ago.

The Golden Rock - November 26th, 2008 Edition

I reported the Hong Kong weekend box office on Monday. Now it’s time to look at the rest of Asia:

-In Japan, John Woo’s Red Cliff Part 1 ruled the box office for 4th weekend in a row during the holiday weekend. It lost only 10% of its audience, and has now made about 3.1 billion yen. It’s on track to become the highest-grossing non-Japanese Asian film in Japan ever. As Avex reportedly invested US$35 million of the two films’ total US$80 million budget, Avex should be making their money back plus some change if the second film does just as well next Spring.

Meanwhile, the only new Japanese release on the top 10 is the oddly-titled post World War II war crimes trial drama I’d Rather Be a Shellfish. With a fairly large amount of 330 screens, it opened at second place, and has the highest per-screen average in the top 10. The other three English-language openers - Tropic Thunder, Blindness, and 1408 - all opened on a modest amount of screens, and could score only modest openings.

The biggest drop in the top 10 goes to the gimmicky comedy Handsome Suits. It lost only 29.1% from the previous weekend, and has made 668 million yen after 4 weeks. The second smallest drop (next to Red Cliff) is the TV drama film adaptation Suspect X. It managed to lose only 15.4% in business for its 8th weekend. It has now made 4.5 billion yen, and may have a shot at 5 billion when it’s all over.

-  In China, Quantum of Solace barely held on to its top spot for the third weekend in a row, and has now made almost 133 million RMB (200 million RMB is the super hit line that Red Cliff, Warlords, and Painted Skin have crossed). Right behind it is the Chinese romance Desire of the Heart. Variety has a report of how great the opening is.

Dante Lam’s Beast Stalker had a respectable 6.2 million RMB opening at 4th place, behind Hellboy II (which I’m surprised managed to open in China despite its supernatural elements). Depending on how it does in Hong Kong, the two regions’ gross combined may help EEG break even.

There’s not much else to say, since what was provided wasn’t even a completed top 10 list.

- In Taiwanese box office, the largest drop went to Quantum of Solace as well, which also held on to its top spot for the third weekend in a row. Local film Blue Brave is doing fairly well, still in second place despite losing 30% in audience. It has now made over 15 million New Taiwan Dollars, which may be chump change when compared to Cape No. 7, but it’s a fairly good gross for a local film. Just look at Miao Miao, which lost 38.4% in business and has only made 2.8 million New Taiwan Dollars so far.

But like the China data, there’s no screen count, so I have no idea how more limited release such as The Good, the Bad, and the Weird did with their low grosses.

- In a rare sight for 2008, two Korean films are on the top of the Korean box office. Meanwhile, both Connected and Blindness opened weakly in their first weekend.

More over at Korea Pop Wars

- On the Japanese Oricon Charts, UVERworld now has their first #1 single, while Perfume debuts far behind and Girl Next Door’s sales continue to slide. On the album charts, NEWS’ album debuts on top, with Guns N’ Roses’ controversial Chinese Democracy managed a 3rd place opening.

More on Tokyograph.

-  It’s trailers time! Nippon Cinema has the first official trailer for the second installment of the 20th Century Boys trilogy. This one is different from the one at the end of the short film, as it is longer and has more footage. It’ll be released in Japan just two months from now, with the third film aiming for a Fall 2009 release. Twitch reports that the Japanese website for the omnibus New York I Love You has opened with a short teaser. The website only reports that the film will open there some time in 2009. By the way, the website is only fully viewable with Internet Explorer.

- China’s Xinhua Media has announced a new slate of five US-China co-production. One is another martial arts action flick from Forbidden Kingdom writer John Fusco, and another one is a new take on the classic Hua Mulan tale.

- The Hollywood Reporter looks at how Thai TV networks - the four biggest ones owned by the Thai army - are looking at the latest anti-government protests, which led to the shutdown of Thailand’s biggest airport.

- Under “Japanese stars going international for Japanese cinema” news today, “it” actors Kenichi Matsuyama and Maki Horikita are starring in a Japanese-language film directed by American director Hans Canosa. I was greatly impressed by Canosa’s Conversations With Other Women, so I’m looking forward to what he does in a totally foreign environment with such high-profile actors.

Meanwhile, Yuji Oda has signed on to star in Fuji Television’s 50th annivarsary film Amalfi: Megumi no 50 Byou. About a diplomat abroad investigating an abduction, it’ll be the first Japanese film completely shot in Italy.

- Reported earlier in the Hong Kong press and now showing up on Twitch, Raymond Wong has confirmed that Wilson Yip’s DONNNNIIIIIEEEE Yen starrer Ip Man will be getting a sequel. It will cover the titular character’s move to Hong Kong, after he seemingly kicks a lot of Japanese asses in the first film, which won’t even be opening until mid-December. I ought to be excited about this, but I would rather see how Wong Kar Wai pulls off the story instead of seeing another DOOOONNNIIIEEE-centric martial arts fest.

- The global economic crisis has claimed another victim in the film world, as the Jakarta Film Festival in Indonesia has been forced to cut its 9-day schedule to just 5 days, and the festival will only be able to show 10 of the 84 local films produced this year.

- After it was confirmed that Steven Spielberg is working on a Hollywood remake of Oldboy with Will Smith looking to star, the rumors traveling now suggest that the Hollywood remake will be based on the original comic instead of Park Chan-wook’s adaptation, which apparently deviated plenty from the source material.

The Golden Rock - November 6th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - November 1st, 2008 Edition

Reminding you that our real day job around here is movie reviewing, LovehkFilm just updated with some new reviews. Boss Kozo gives us the reviews for the China-friendly kung fu cheesefest Wushu - The Young Generation, the Wong Jing-produced/scripted horror cheesefest The Vampire Who Admires Me, and the Hong Kong independent film Some Like it Hot. Yours truly offers you my takes on the Japanese dog flick 10 Promises With My Dog, the Korean odd couple comedy Santamaria, and the Korean family-friendly melodrama Unforgettable. I promise you the next batch of Korean stuff is better.

- Five of the six movies that opened this weekend got on the top 10 of the Hong Kong box office chart on Thursday opening day. Opening very strongly on top is the Japanese comedy Detroit Metal City. On just 19 screens (really?!), it made a very impressive HK$467,000. Expect theaters to add more screens over the weekend, and judging from the reaction at the screening I went to, expect this to do better than 20th Century Boys. Landing in second is Saw V, which made HK$315,000 from 25 screens.

More disappointing is the opening for City of Ember, which made HK$126,000 from 22 screens. It might get boost from the weekend family audience. On the other hand, the indie comedy Smart People won’t get that boost, and it only made HK$48,000 from 10 screens. Despite packed screenings and very positive reactions from the HKAFF, The Magic Hour made only HK$15,000 from 2 screens on opening day. The one film that didn’t make it to the top ten is Hur Jin-Ho’s Happiness, which opened on only two screens as well. More when the numbers come in on Monday

- Let’s look at some opening weekend data for a few Japanese films that opened last week:

There was fairly high expectations for the first film version of the hit novel The Homeless Student (Homeless Chugakusei). However, not only did it only open at third place this past weekend , its opening gross (115 million yen from 309 screens) was only 59% of Tokyo Tower’s opening gross (that ended up doing 1.88 billion yen). Since Tokyo Tower’s gross was helped by word-of-mouth, The Homeless Student may even have trouble getting to the 1 billion yen mark.

By the way, The Homeless Student is directed by Tomoyuki Furuyama, who made This Window is Yours, the 1993 PIA Scholarship film I briefly reviewed in the last entry.

Opening under The Homeless Student is Free and Easy’s 19th film. From 178 screens, the long-running film series made 67.89 million, which is actually the exact same opening gross as the previous film. Also, since the film attracts a large number of elderly audience (who pay only 1,000 yen per ticket), it ended up debuting at only 7th place on the box office gross chart, even though it’s 4th place on the attendance chart.

The exact opposite thing happened to Journey to the Center of the Earth. Since half of its 104 screens are playing the 3D version, this means a large number of tickets sold were on an inflated price. From 104 screens, the film made a total of 120 million yen, with the 3D version responsible for 76% of that gross. As a result, even though the film only ended up at 7th place of the attendance chart, it ended up being either 3rd of 4th place on the box office gross chart. For some reason, the Box Office Mojo is lower than the number Mr. Texas reported. Either way, the point is that the price of the ticket boosted the film’s place, which shows how inaccurate it is to purely look at a film’s success with gross.

- This weekend in Japanese box office, John Woo’s Red Cliff is expected to top the box office this weekend. After all, it already broke the record for advance ticket sales of an Asian film in Japan.

In case you don’t know, there is a type of movie tickets in Japan that are sold in advance for a cheaper price, and some outlets even continue to sell them after the movie has already opened. Each ticket also have the film’s art on it, and they’d be worth collecting if they didn’t cost the price of a movie ticket.

Also, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa has a feature on Red Cliff, but I’m sure you’ve probably read all this if you care about the film.

- In related news, the Golden Horse Awards committee had originally nominated actor Taiwan-born/half-Japanese Takeshi Kaneshiro for Outstanding Taiwanese filmmaker of the year for his roles in Red Cliff and The Warlords. However, after learning that Kaneshiro holds only Japanese nationality, he’s now been disqualified. Then again, he would’ve lost against the director of Cape No. 7 anyway.

- Oh, yeah, here are the nominees for this year’s Golden Horse Awards. Congratulations to Pang Ho-Cheung for the four nominations for Trivial Matters and to Peter Chan for the 12 nominations for The Warlords. My sympathies to John Woo and Johnnie To for their lack of nominations in the major awards category.

- Jason Gray looks at the proposed remake of Akira Kurosawa’s High And Low, which has some very high-profile American filmmakers onboard (David Mamet penning the screenplay?! Mike Nichols as director?!).

- Lastly, Twitch has a teaser for the Kenkuro Kudo-penned comedy Donju.

The Golden Rock - October 8th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

More at Tokyograph

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

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

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

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

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

OK, bring on the Tokyo CoFesta!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - September 13th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time again! Lovehkfilm just got updated with some new reviews. From Our Boss Kozo is the review for the Ekin-Shawn Yue two-fer Rule No. 1 and a review for Lam “fat dude in Shaolin Soccer” Chi Chung’s The Luckiest Man, which I thankfully missed out on. From A Man Called Sanjuro™ is a review for the Shaw Bros. martial arts film The New One-Armed Swordsman and the review for the Singaporean blockbuster 881. And from yours truly is a review for the Japanese talky flick Best Wishes for Tomorrow. And here’s an article from Japan Times on the film that should be an interesting companion to the review. I also just found this column written by the film’s co-writer about the film’s main character.From Variety’s Dennis Harvey are two reviews for recent Japanese films. First is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s family drama Still Walking, then it’s Ryosuke Hashiguchi’s excellent All Around Us

.- Sean Penn’s Into the Wild opened this past weekend in Japan on a limited 26 screens. While it made a less-than-impressive 13.73 million, Eiga Consultant reports that it actually played to sold-out shows at the three Tokyo screens, and that each of the screen actually attracted a different demographic.

-  It’s trailers time! This time both clips are from Twitch. First is the trailer for Kim Ki Duk’s latest film Sad Dream, which stars Jo Odagir speaking in his native Japanese instead of having no lines like Chang Chen in Breath. Then there’s a Mandarin-dubbed trailer for Wu Jing’s co-directorial debut Legendary Assassin, which features several Gold Label stars such as Alex “I used to swim at the Olympics” Fong and a cameo by Ronald Cheng because head honcho Paco Wong produced it.

- Japanese drama Code Blue just wrapped up this week with an OK-19.5% rating, which solidfies its spot as the top-rated drama of the Summer 2008 season. Guess what that means? A special one-off episode during New Years!

- Hollywood’s Focus Features have signed up to co-produce Park Chan Wook’s latest film along with its Korean producer. And since Focus Features is actually a division of Universal, this means that Universal is in on it too. It’s the first time a Korean film is being made with Hollywood money, although last year CJ Entertainment co-produced the American film August Rush.

- Kenichi “L” Matsuyama looks to be going into his indie film mode, signing up for a new film with an “ultra” cool name.

- This week’s Televiews column on The Daily Yomiuri goes into the wrapping up of Summer 2008 dramas and a possible Japanese remake of Winter Sonata starring the son of ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

- The management of Japanese idols group AKB48 has a real good reason to be pissed: The latest single, which isn’t even finished yet, has already been leaked on the internet ahead of its October release date.

- Hoga Central has an interview with Kaori Momoi and Takashi Miike to coincide with the release of Sukuyaki Western Django in the United States.

- The 2nd annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards is looking at a wider competition this year, as it has received double the amount of submissions compared to last year.

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.

 
 
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