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Archive for the ‘South Korea’ Category

The Golden Rock - December 15th, 2008 Edition

- The Day the Earth Stood Still scored one of the biggest opening weekends this year at the Hong Kong box office. On Sunday, the sci-fi drama made HK$2.62 million from 86 screens (That’s a 10 screen increase from opening day) for a 4-day weekend total of HK$10.57 million. It should have no problem crossing the HK$20 million mark, unless Ip Man puts a dent in it next weekend along with that poor word-of-mouth.

Only one other film on the top 10 broke the HK$10,000 per-screen average on Sunday. From 3 screens, the Japanese film Ikigami made HK$37,000 on Sunday for a 11-day gross of HK$450,000. Meanwhile, the opening films didn’t get much of a boost over the weekend. Romantic comedy Four Christmases made only HK$231,000 from 26 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$820,000. Tsui Hark’s All About Women did only slightly better from its disasterous opening day, making HK$109,000 from 18 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$410,000.

The Golden Horse Awards last weekend didn’t help its award winners here in Hong Kong. Cape No. 7 continues its gradual decline with HK$125,000 from 23 screens on Sunday with HK$7.28 million after 25 days. Herman Yau’s True Women for Sale (whose star Prudence Lau took Best Actress at the awards)also lost about 50% of its audience with just HK$22,000 from 5 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$440,000.

As for other films, Dante Lam’s The Beast Stalker is now at HK$7.5 million after 18 days, making the HK$10 million mark extremely unlikely now. Wu Jing’s Legendary Assassin is at HK$2.08 million after 11 days. Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect, another Gold Label film, is at HK$3.1 million after 18 days (the 24 days included the weekend previews), and What Just Happened is at HK$620,000 after 11 days.

- On the Japanese box office attendence chart, Wall-E retains its number 1 spot while two other animated films enter at 2nd and 3rd place. However, since they are animated films that would attract a large kids audience, their places on the box office gross chart may end up lower. More when the numbers come out.

-The comic-turned-TV drama-turned film Mr. Tadano’s Secret Mission dropped to 7th place in the second week. However, that didn’t stop TV Asahi from bringing back for its 4th season. They’ll even move it from the late night 11pm slot to 9pm, even though it means they’ll have to cut down on the sex.

- No Japanese TV drama ratings yet, but the Mainichi News reports that the NHK period drama Atsuhime scored a 28.7% rating for its final episode for an average of 24.5%, the highest for NHK in the last decade.

- Even though Korean superstar Rain didn’t make much of an impression with Speed Racer, this stunt reel found on Twitch proves that he’s ready for his starring role in Ninja Assassin. Girls, you may scream……………….now.

- Also, the website for Vincent Kok’s Lunar New Year comedy All’s Well’s End Well 2009 has uploaded a half making-of, half teaser. It mainly consists of a lot of people laughing and making funny faces.

- Twitch also has a teaser for the aniamted film Miyamoto Musashi, written by Mamoru Oshii and produced by his production company.

- Korean actress Bae Seul-ki will be in a major role for the Hollywood production Finale, playing a cold-blooded killer who takes on the Italian mafia.

-The Golden Rock’s favorite enka singer Jero has revealed that his second single was written by pop singer Yo Hitoto, who starred in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Cafe Lumiere.

- Japanese box office champ Toho has announced its 2009 lineup, which includes the new film by Isshin Inudo (more details from Ryuganji) and Kankuro Kudo’s latest.

- Actor Park Shin-yang has been banned from any television drama made by any member of Corea Drama Production Assosication because he asked for too much money for appearing in extra episodes of the drama he was working on and sued when he didn’t get paid.

- Twitch has an interview with Tokyo Sonata director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but be warned that there are some spoilers for the movie in it.

- Thai actor/comedian Sayan Doksadao has passed away. He was one of the world’s few actors working with Down syndrome.

The Golden Rock - December 14th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! From the legendary Boss Kozo are the reviews for Wu Jing’s directorial debut Legendary Assassin and the Zhou Xun-starring film Equation of Love and Death. Also, there are two reviews up for Tony Jaa’s Muay Thai epic Ong Bak 2, one from Wise Kwai and the other from Brian of Asian Cinema - While on the Road. Lastly, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2.

- Japanese film distributor Toho declares that 2008 is their biggest year ever, thanks to Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo On a Cliff by the Sea, the 7 billion yen-plus take of Hana Yori Dango Final, and other successful TV-to-silver-screen film adaptation.

- Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled, which had a pretty good opening weekend in China last week, is heading to this year’s Berlin Film Festival in competition. I’m sure it’ll be better received than The Promise already.

- A brand-new teaser for Takashi Miike’s Crows Zero II just popped up online. This one actually features footage from the film. After having a ton of blast with the first film, I say bring on the hyperactive high school beatdowns.

- The assistant director of the Olympic opening ceremony is taking John Woo’s Red Cliff and making it an opera for the stage. However, he hasn’t revealed how exactly he’ll pull it off yet.

- Under “Japanese cinema casting news” today, Etsushi Toyokawa and Hiroko Yakushimari will be starring in Isao Yukisada’s latest film. Yukisada was an assistant director for Shunji Iwai and directed Crying Out For Love in the Center of the World, one of Japan’s highest-grossing romantic melodrama ever.

Korean boy group TVXQ (or Tohoshinki in Japan) will be appearing in a performance and singing the theme song within the manga-based film Subaru, the new film from Hong Kong director Lee Chi-Ngai. Lee directed Lost and Found, starring Kelly Chan and Michael Wong, and last made Magic Kitchen, starring Sammi Cheng.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the upcoming historical dramas and other programs coming to Japanese TV this month before the end of the year musical extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen.

- Representing Asia at the CineMart market during the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2009 are Korea’s Gina Kim, Japan’s Nobuhiro Yamashita, and China’s Zhang Yuan.

- Ryuganji has the second part of his translation of a Japanese magazine article on the Japanese film business in the 21st century.

The Golden Rock - December 8th, 2008 Edition

- Dante Lam’s The Beast Stalker captured the top spot at the Hong Kong box office for the second weekend in a row. On Sunday, the melodramatic thriller made HK$539,000 from 34 screens for a 11-day total of HK$6.02 million. This is a 37% drop from last Sunday’s take, and signals that it’s slowing down a little quicker than Connected. Getting to the HK$10 million mark will be tough, but considering how Hong Kong films have done this year, this is a modest success for Emperor.

Cape No. 7 may have gotten a slight boost from its wins at the Golden Horse Awards, losing only 20% of last Sunday’s business for a take of HK$395,000 from 25 screens. After 18 days, the Taiwanese music-based romance has made HK$6.4 million. At this rate, the HK$10 million mark is looking more and more probable. On the other hand, Herman Yau’s True Women For Sale didn’t quite get the boost it needed from Prudence Lau’s Best Actress win. From 5 screens, the dramedy made HK$51,000 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$180,000.

The opening film with the best per-screen average is the Japanese film Ikigami. From just 4 screens, the high concept drama made HK$59,900 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$210,000. On the other hand, the best-performing opener was Wu Jing’s co-directorial debut Legendary Assassin. From 31 screens, the action film made just HK$336,000 at 3rd place for a 4-day total of HK$1.23 million. I guess all those Gold Label stars showing up didn’t help much.   The other Gold Label film , Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect, made another HK$189,800 from 34 screens, losing 45% of last Sunday’s gross. After 11 days, the identity-switching comedy has made HK$2.69 million.

The distributor of the American indie comedy What Just Happened? is probably asking that same question. From 13 screens, the Berry Levinson film made HK$111,000 on Sunday for a 4-day total of just HK$410,000. Quantum of Solace has made HK$18.91 million after 32 days, Beverly Hills Chihuahua has made HK$2.89 million after 18 days, and Burn After Reading has made HK$2.98 million after 25 days.

- Over to the Japan attendance figures, where Wall-E and the disaster film 252 finally came together to knock Red Cliff of its top spot for first and second place, respectively. The TV drama/comic-based spinoff Tokumei Kakaricho Hitoshi Tadano film (which looks terrible) got a 5th place debut. Surprisingly, Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s Where the Legend Lives saw a boost to 7th place this weekend after almost being knocked off the top 10 chart last week. However, like last week, its placing may end up being lower on the box office gross chart because it attracts an elderly audience, who pay a lower ticket price. More when the numbers are out.

- After months of production turmoil and coming in the midst of a political shuffle, Ong Bak 2 opened last Friday and is now projected to be the top local film this year. Kaiju Shakedown looks at some initial reviews, which reveal that it sets up for Ong Bak 3. I’ll be watching this in Hong Kong just after New Year.

-  In addition to the Golden Horse Awards, there was also a Taipei Projects Market (refer to my interview with Kenneth Bi to hear about how these things work), where two films had to share the top prize. A lack of high-profile projects (except for the Eat Drink Man Woman sequel NOT by Ang Lee and Pang Ho-Cheung’s The Bus) made it hard to find extended reports about it, but here ya go.

- Variety lines out the tough week the media had last week in Asia, and it was about more than giving away police strategies to terrorists and illegal airport blockages.

- Ryuganji translates a very long article in a Japanese magazine about the Japanese film business in the 21st century. Part one covers the overwhelming dominance of local distributor Toho.

- If you want to know what the most popular songs in Japan are, you should check out DAM’s (that’s a Karaoke machine) top 20 2008 Karaoke ranking because people tend to sing what they like, especially in a Karaoke-heavy country like Japan. As Tokyograph reported, here are the top 10 Karaoke songs of 2008:

1) Kiseki - GReeeeN (which has a great music video. You don’t need to know Japanese to be touched by it. Oh, alright, here’s an English-subtitled version.)
2) Lovers Again - Exile
3) Ai Uta - GReeeeN (This video, on the other hand, not so good)
4) Tsubomi - Kobukuro (I admit that I sang this a few times at Karaoke myself)
5) Soba ni Iru ne - Thelma Aoyama featuring Soulja (the no.1 selling single in Japan this year so far. Or some Arashi single might’ve already surpassed it.)
6) Ai no Uta - Kumi Koda (apparently the words Ai (love) and Uta (song) are huge in Japanese music)
7) Hanamizuki - Yo Hitoto (Apparently the only song she ever sings when she goes to the year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen every year)
8) Sakura - Kobukuro (The word Sakura is also huge in Japanese music)
9) Suirenka - Shonan no Kaze (which Hacken Lee covered in his Concert Hall II album. It wasn’t good.)
10) Ayaka - Mikatsuki

If you know Japanese and care enough about the rest of the rankings, check out the complete list here. By the way, my man Jero’s debut single Umiyuki got on the 15th place. Not bad for a kid from Pittsburgh.

- Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo has been announced as the first director of this year’s Jeonju Digital Project. Produced by the Jeonju International Film Festival, the Jeonju Digital Project is a trio of short films produced each year by three different directors. The other two directors for the upcoming festival’s project will be announced on January 13th.

- With China making the unusual choice of a sending a documentary to the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film race, some people in China wonder if the country’s even trying to get into the race anymore. At least it didn’t pick Painted Skin as its representative.

- Under “Japanese drama casting” news today, Arashi leader Satoshi Ohno will be doing his first comedic role in a TV drama next season.  Meanwhile, major film actor Koji Yakusho and popular actress Eri Fukatsu will be starring in a made-for-TV movie (I guess a drama special if you want to get all specific with names) with a script written 30 year ago.

- In order to encourage people to go to the cinemas, China has been trying to promote digital projection and 3D films in theaters. It’s so eager to it that its authorities even exempted Disney’s latest animated film from the 20 foreign films quota.

- Famed Japanese composer Minoru Endo, who has written 5000 songs in the last 60 years, passed away over the weekend. He was 76 years old.

The Golden Rock - December 3rd, 2008 Edition

Let’s start with some numbers:

- The attendance ranking for the Japanese box office looks a bit different from actual grosses. While the top three films match on both charts, Death Race actually made enough money to overtake the Pretty Cure movie for 4th place. This is most likely because Pretty Cure attracts younger audiences, which means Pretty Cure may have attracted more audiences, but it sold tickets at lower prices. The same happened to Suspect X, which apparently attracted more audience than Saw V, but ended up taking in less money. Which one is a more accurate gauge of success at the box office? You decide.

As it is the case after a holiday weekend, all the films on the top 10 took a considerable drop. Red Cliff lost more audiences than the war crimes drama I’d Rather be a Shellfish (31.6% vs. 26.6%), which lost the least business out of all the films on top 10. However, it didn’t lose enough to lose its first place standing. John Woo’s period epic has now topped the box office for five weeks, and 58% of Walker Plus users who saw the film gave it 5 out of 5.

The film that lost the most business on the top 10 is Blindness, whose gross dropped by 50% in the second week. In fact, Where the Legend Lives attracted enough elder audiences that it bumped Blindness off the top10 on the attendance chart.

- In Korea, five of the top 10 films are Korean, with two of those films taking the top spots. However, one of them is only for a series of preview screenings, and its true opening will be next weekend.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

- At the Chinese box office, local film Fit Lover scores a strong opening, though last week’s top earner Desire of the Heart lost only 20% of business. Dante Lam’s Beast Stalkers amazing lost only 0.2% of its opening weekend business and may become a pretty damn profitable film for all the production companies involved. Hellboy II also saw a very small drop of about 7%, which must be good news for those who want to bring more fantasy films into China.

The biggest drops also go to Hollywood films - Quantum of Solace lost 60%, while Babylon A.D. lost a disastrous 75%. However, one has already made nearly 140 million RMB, and the other one has only made 7.75 million RMB.

- On the Japanese Oricon music charts, the variety group Exile (only two out of the seven member sing - the rest dance in the background) scores a new number 1 single with their cover of Last Christmas (seriously, when will Japanese people get tired of that song? The last cover was Yuji Oda’s for the drama of the same name back in 2004). The enka song Ai no Mama de climbed back up to 9th place, making enka singer Junko Akimoto the oldest female singer/enka singer to have a top 10 single.

Mika Nakashima’s latest album debuts on top of the album chart, while Shota Shimizu’s 2nd place debut got the media searching everywhere for a new record for him to break.

More from Tokyograph.

- The boost of Ai no Mama de in sales may be due to its win at the Japan Record Awards as one of the 12 Gold Awards of the year.  Other winners include Jero as one of the five Best New Artists, Namie Amuro’s compilation taking Best Album (how can a compilation be a Best Album when it’s compiled from a bunch of other albums?), and Ponyo poised to pick up some kind of award

Worth noting is that Hong Konger Agnes Chan will be getting a special award. Agnes Chan was born in Hong Kong and was first known in Asia after she acted in to of Chang Cheh’s films. Then she went to Japan for a singing career and it mostly stayed there ever since. Over the last decade, she also became a scholar(a Ph.D from Stanford!), a professor, a novelist, a United Nations ambassador, a TV personality, and a radio host. Despite being in Japan, she never forgot about Hong Kong, either.

- Cape No. 7 was supposed to open in a few weeks in China, but its release has now been postponed indefinitely, despite being approved by the censors. However, no one really knows the true reason. Some say the Taiwanese-Japanese aspect of the film could cause a nationalistic backlash (as in people reading too much into it), and some say it’s a simple matter of the subtitles not being done on time because of all the languages involved.

-  Alan Mak and Felix Chong, whose latest film Lady Cop and Papa Crook will finally be released in January (though in a trucated, China-approved version), are already working on a new project about police eavesdropping that will be produced by Derek Yee. Sounds promising.

- Under “Japanese drama” news today, the NHK period drama hit Atsuhime hit a peak of 30.8% rating, a mark that private network dramas have not hit since Karei Naru Ichizoku did it in March 2007 with its final episode.

With struggling drama ratings even during prime time, TBS will be canceling their daytime drama slots and the news show programmed around them for a 4-hour daytime news show. Honestly, these news show are all the same anyway, no matter how long they are or what network they’re on.

- Ryuganji is back with a detailed look of his experience at this year’s Tokyo Filmex.

While Sion Sono’s 4-hour Love Exposure got all the attention, Twitch also brings to your attention Nonko 36 sai, another well-received Japanese film at the festival.

- Despite the current economic environment, major Japanese studio Toei is spending 4.2 billion yen on a complex completely for digital production.

- Lastly, Twitch has a review for Shinobu Yaguchi’s Happy Flight.

The Golden Rock - November 29th, 2008 Edition

- Mr. Texas of Eiga Consultant looks at the opening of two films from last week. First, he looks at the war crimes drama I’d Rather Be a Shellfish, starring Smap’s Masahiro Nakai and Yukie Nakama. Over the three-day holiday weekend, it made 407 million yen from 330 screens. That’s 105% of the three-day opening for The Glorious Team Batista, which went on to make 1.6 billion yen. More interesting is the audience breakdown, which was 81% female. Also, audience in their 20s made up a surprisingly 32.6% of the total audience (surprising because war dramas or post-war dramas tend to skew older). That’s the power of Smap.

Mr. Texas also looks at the opening of Tropic Thunder in Japan. From a modest 161 screens, the Hollywood comedy made 59.9 million yen over the first two days. Mr. Texas chose not to compare it to Night at the Museum because it was released much wider. Instead, this opening is 133% of Nacho Libre’s opening, which ended making 150 million yen. Hollywood-centric comedies like this usually don’t work so well outside of English-speaking countries, so this result comes as no surprise.

- It’s review time! From Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is the review for the big-budget diaster film 252 ~ Seizonsha Ari, about a super typhoon that hits Tokyo.  From the Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa is the review for the school drama Aoi Tori, starring Hiroshi Abe as a stuttering teacher that makes his new class face their past deeds head-on.

- Despite the global economic slowdown affecting pretty much everyone, Bollywood industry professionals insist that a film’s success “has nothing to do with stock markets or banks.”

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at how TV ratings data are compiled in Japan and what’s leading each program category in ratings.

- Twitch looks at the new Korean film A Frozen Flower by Once Upon a Time in High School and A Dirty Carnival director Yu Ha, which is a risky, high-budget, gay-themed period drama that sold fairly well at the American Film Market earlier this month.

- Also on the Korean front, the laughable fantasy blockbuster D-War is making its debut in Japan this weekend, and the Daily Yomiuri has an interesting article about shooting a Korean film about dragons on the streets of Los Angeles.

- Fans of stage dramas in Japan can look forward to the Japanese stage adaptation of the Hollywood film Phone Booth, starring Keiichiro Koyama of boy band NEWS.

- Finally, the Daily Yomiuri looks at the short film Dare Mo Shinanai, a 34-minute work about high school girls who play survival games with BB guns that also marks the directorial debut of painter Mr.. The trailer can be found here, and it’s now playing at a Tokyo theater in Shimokitazawa that specializes in playing short films.

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 24th, 2008 Edition

Long time no see. It’s been a very busy month, so please excuse the extended breaks.

-  In the same situation as Taiwan, Cape No. 7 entered the Hong Kong box office with a good, but not spectacular start. The now-historic Taiwanese comedy-romance-drama opened on 23 screens and made HK$586,380 for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2 million. However, unlike its run in Taiwan, the opening in Hong Kong was preceded by unavoidable buzz, which makes this opening a little underwhelming. Depending on word-of-mouth, normal box office patterns suggest that this will end up making around HK$5 million, which makes this one of the better-grossing Taiwanese movies in recent years (excluding Lust, Caution, of course). Nevertheless, for a movie that beat every movie except Titanic in its native country, underwhelming is the buzz word here.

At least it did better than Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. From 32 screens, the family-friendly doggie film  made HK$1.36 million over the 4-day weekend, which means it’ll surely not repeat the success of High School Musical 3 last month. The Richard Gere-led romantic drama Nights in Rodanthe opened on 20 screens, but made only HK$400,000 over the 4-day weekend.

As for the holdovers, Quantum of Solace is still in 2nd place in its 3rd weekend, now with a 18-day total of HK$17.12 million after making another HK$507,000 from 41 screens on Sunday. Champions lost about half its audience in its second weekend, now with HK$4.42 million after 11 days. The sad part is that it’s actually quite close to the Mainland Chinese gross after two weeks, which surely makes this a not-very-successful film for Tsui Siu Ming, his Sundream Pictures, and Dicky Cheung, who still has a few more films (including his directorial debut) under his contract.

The Coens’ Burn After Reading lost two screens in its second weekend, but saw a much lower drop in its second weekend. From 18 screens, it still managed to make HK$184,000 for a 11-day total of HK$2.07 million. Last week’s limited release Bella also hung on to its audiences, still making HK$90,000 from 8 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$1.04 million. Detroit Metal City passed the HK$10 million mark over the weekend, and has now made HK$10.18 million after 25 days, marking this another hit for Kenichi Matsuyama in Hong Kong.

Patrick Kong’s Nobody’s Perfect made a total of HK$180,000 from 30 screens over 5-6 sneak preview shows over the weekend. It’ll open against plenty of newcomers over the weekend, so we’ll see whether the intended teen girl audiences will show up this weekend.

- In Hong Kong, despite the complaints about falling grosses and dying Cantonese film industries, cinemas actually saw a higher total gross than last year. Of course, this is mostly due to the major success of several Hollywood films such as The Dark Knight and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

- It was a public holiday today in Japan, so no Japan numbers until over the next few days. However, in TV drama news, the Summer 2008 ratings winner Code Blue will get a special one-off episode in January. Can someone say film adaptation soon?

- Speaking of Patrick Kong, his new film Love Connected has just started filming, and Gold Label has already premiered a new trailer. However, there’s no actual footage from the film; it’s only a somewhat funny parody of the Connected trailer. Love Connected comes out next Valentine’s Day.

- The Good, the Bad, and the Weird was the big winner at Korea’s Blue Dragon Awards, even though it only won one of the major awards (Kim Jee-woon for Best Director). Instead, the handball film Forever the Moment picked up Best Picture, while Son Ye-jin picked up a surprise win for My Wife Got Married. The Chaser, which swept the competing Grand Bell Awards earlier in the year, only won a much-deserved Best Actor award for Kim Yoon-suk.

- Giving credit where it’s due, it was first reported on Kaiju Shakedown. Now Screen Daily has confirmed that Johnny Hallyday - not Alain Delon - will be starring in Johnnie To’s latest, about a French gangster-turned-chef coming to Hong Kong to avenge his daughter. Will this be a new Milkyway masterpiece, or another Fulltime Killer-like attempt at international filmmaking?

- Also from Kaiju Shakedown today is the news of legendary actress Josephine Siao coming back to Hong Kong cinema with a new role after finding a script that she loves enough to bring her out of retirement.

- Chinese television dramas was such a lucrative business that every other production company started making them. However, the global financial crisis and a growing backlog in the stations’ schedules has caused things to slow down, even though the major players are still doing their thang.

-  Under “Japanese music” news today, Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli is releasing a brand-new compilation of their most well-known theme songs if any Ghibli fan hasn’t collected them all yet.

Mr. Children, who have been been active since 1989 and has rejected the invitation to Japan’s year-end musical extravaganza Kohaku Uta Gassen every year, has finally agreed to appear for the first time ever. Now NHK needs to get Hikaru Utada - another chronic rejection musician - to finally appear as well.

- Next month, American theaters will see Waiting for Beijing, the directorial debut of Chinese entrepeneur Alan Zhang, who worked 20 years to break into the world of cinema. However, his film was unable to get any deals at the recent American Film Market, even though he plans to make four more films in 2009.

The Golden Rock - November 6th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2008 Edition

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

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to real news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - November 3rd, 2008 Edition

Japan had a public holiday today, so a lot of figures can’t be updated yet, as well as less news. We’ll just have to do with what we got.

- Detroit Metal City expanded its dominance of the Hong Kong box office, especially after exhibitors added 7 more screens after its great opening day gross. From 26 screens, the crazy Japanese comedy made HK$929,000 on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$3.16 million. It’s certain that it’ll do better than 20th Century Boys, but we’ll wait and see whether it’ll do Death Note numbers.  On the other hand, Saw V didn’t get the adult audience boost that category III films get over the weekend. From 25 screens, the horror sequel made only HK$368,000 on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.57 million.

On the other hand, family film City of Ember did get a minor family film boost over the weekend with a Sunday take of HK$237,000 from 22 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$840,000. The indie comedy Smart People didn’t do so well, making HK$91,000 from 10 screens for a 4-day total of just HK$320,000. Miki Kotani’s hilarious The Magic Hour did much better on its limited release run over the weekend, making HK$40,000 from just 2 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$130,000.

As for other films, High School Musical 3 got its weekend boost, making HK$813,000 from 40 screens on Sunday for a 10-day total of HK$7.64 million, which means it’ll definitely break the HK$10 million barrier. Tropic Thunder hangs on fairly well in its second weekend, making HK$486,000 from 31 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.76 million, and has already has a better Hong Kong gross than Ben Stiller’s last film The Heartbreak Kid. Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies has a 24-day total of HK$5.89 million (so close to that HK$6 million!!!!), Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona has a 24-day total of HK$2.8 million, and Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers is a bit of a bust, with just HK$5.74 million after 24 days.

-Tsui Siu-Ming’s martial arts-themed Champions also had preview screenings over the weekend here in Hong Kong. However, the Hong Kong Film blog looked at the ticket presales and saw a strange pattern. While most films would first sell out the middle and back rows, the seat charts the blogger found saw seat sales all over the place, including those in the front rows sold before those in the back were. Were those seats already bought out to create the illusion of packed preview screenings? Or were they just bought up to be passed out internally? Either way, it certainly seems shady.

- The American Film Market is about to get underway on Wednesday, one day after the U.S. presidential election and smack dab in the middle of a financial crisis. With Pusan and Tokyo already happening in the last two months, how will Asian films do at the market? Variety looks at expectations the attendees have before it all begins.

Japan’s Avex just paid one of the highest prices ever paid by a Japanese company for a Korean drama, except that it just flopped in the ratings with only a 7.1% for its premiere episode.

Not much news, and it’s getting late. So let’s wrap it up here. Hopefully there’s more tomorrow.

 
 
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