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Archive for the ‘Southeast Asia’ Category

The Golden Rock - June 12th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s go for a little number crunching first, as usual. As reported all this week, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour scored a very successful 500 million yen-plus opening on 379 screens. However, Mr. Texas points out that the opening is actually only 89% of the director’s very successful The Wow-Choten Hotel. Of course, the comparison is a little unfair, as Wow-Choten is the all-time Japanese comedy champ at the box office. However, Mitani and his cast have been aggressively promoting the film, with variety show appearances, a TV airing of Wow-Choten Hotel, and even the revival of Mitani’s popular TV series Furuhata Ninzabuo, which makes the opening a bit soft for all the buzz.

Also, Mr. Texas points out that even though The Magic Hour’s opening points of a 5 billion yen-plus final gross, several recent 500 million-yen openers have been fizzling out at the 3 billion yen mark, so it all depends on the word-of-mouth for this film. I caught the film this morning, and understood enough that I’ll be offering my views on the blog later on.

Mr. Texas also looked at another one of this past weekend’s major Japanese opening, the fish market-themed The Taste of Fish. Already planned to be a yearly movie series before its release, the human drama opened with 49.28 million yen from 259 screens, and is only 73% of the opening for the last Tsurubaka Nisshi film in 2007, which is the only other ongoing yearly film series about fishing. With no television station associated with the film, looks like Shochiku doesn’t even have the tv drama option if things don’t work out.

- I can’t believe I forgot to mention this: The Academy Award-nominated epic Mongol opened in limited release all over North America this past weekend, and managed an impressive USD$26,000 per-screen average. This is surely bittersweet for distributor Picturehouse, which closed up shop three weeks ago.

- It’s reviews time! All the reviews today are by Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter. First, she takes a look at the Chinese film Knitting, which played at the Cannes Critics Week. There’s also a review of Kenji Uchida’s After School, which sounds too twisty for me to understand without subtitles. Lastly, she takes a look at the Milkyway-produced PTU-spinoff TV film Tactical Unit - The Code, which marks Law Wing-Cheong’s third directorial work, not second.

- Speaking of Milkyway, Johnnie To is donating his 36 award trophies for display at the Hong Kong Film Archive. He probably ran out of room to put them at home anyway.

- Mark Schilling has two interviews on the Japan Times, both for the film Gururi No Koto (All Around Us), which went into limited release this past weekend. First, Schilling has an interview with director Ryosuke Hashiguchi, whose latest marks his first film in 6 years. Then, Schilling talks to the film’s star and Tokyo Tower author Lily Franky. I predict there will be a rave for the film on Japan Times tomorrow.

- China has overtaken Japan to be the nation with the most digital TV connection, and will account for half the digital TV households in Asia based on the large population, with India in second place. However, Japan will remain the most valuable market for pay TV in Asia, because people in China will probably keep downloading everything.

- The Indian government finally announced the National Film Awards for 2006, after numerous delays caused by censor certification and possible rigging.

- Kaiju Shakedown offers links to a bunch of Asian film trailers that I haven’t linked to before.

- The Singaporean Film Commission is starting a feature film fund for new directors. Like the film funding program in Hong Kong, the system requires the director to have a co-investor in place already, but unlike its Hong Kong counterpart, it will offer a much larger bulk of the budget, and doesn’t require the director or the producer to have experience with feature films.

- Japan has lost another film veteran, as director Kan Mukai passed away at the age of 70 on June 9th.

The Golden Rock - May 28th, 2008 Edition

- It was a pretty crowded weekend at the top of the Japanese box office this past weekend. The Chronicles of Narnia opened on a Thursday, and made roughly 546 million yen on Saturday and Sunday for a 798 million yen 4-day take. By the per-screen average, it’s not a very spectacular opening, but family films have a long shelf life at the Japanese box office, so it’ll likely end up doing pretty well. However, Aibou, which only lost 8% of its business, actually had a better per-screen average on its 4th weekend, and has now passed the 3 billion yen mark.

Rambo’s opening was also pretty damn good, making 205 million yen from 304 screens and a per-screen average was fairly close to Narnia’s.  In fact, its opening was actually 153.1% of Rocky Balboa’s opening, which means it may be heading to the 1 billion yen mark if word-of-mouth is good. However, the best per-scren average went to Kenji Uchida’s After School, which at 6th place on the box office gross chart with a very good per-screen average of 968,772 yen.

You may be wondering why Yama No Anata is only at 9th place on the gross chart when it’s 6th place on the attendance chart? That’s because most theaters in Japan are charging only 1,000 per ticket, I guess to encourage admission. Meanwhile, as reported earlier, Charlie Wilson’s War suffered the biggest drop, losing 43.5% of business. Of course, that’s not as bad as 10,000 BC, which lost another 63% of business and won’t even make it to the 1 billion yen mark.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Hey! Say! Jump! scores another number 1 debut with their latest, while Hikaru Utada’s theme from Last Friends saw a number 2 debut (while her album is still on the top 10). Meanwhile, Superfly retains its number 1 spot despite a number of new albums debuting on the top 10. Check out the details at Tokyograph.

- Sharon Stone proves that saying something stupid in public can still get you in big trouble in China, where there’s now a planned boycott of her films. Talk about taking it personally.

- There are rumors going around that a 9-minute clip from Red Cliff is floating around on the web. Actually, if you check the comment section, there’s a link to a cam version.

- The release of a digital recorder that can record up to 10 programs simultaneously has been postpone indefinitely because of a continuing conflict between copyright holders and the manufacturers over the fee for rights.

-  It’s almost frustrating how little information is getting out there for the latest Studio Ghibli film. The voice cast for Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff has finally been announced, a little less than 2 months before its theatrical release in Japan.

- Nippon Cinema introduces the teenage drama Ren, about a girl from the future trapped in modern-day Tokyo. But if you don’t know Japanese, it’ll just seem like another teenage romance drama to you.

- Jay Chou is reportedly working on directing and starring in a new film about magicians, and it will be co-starring Andy Lau. The two will play rival magicians who battle to be number one. The Apple Daily article reports that the film was originally about a young magician played by Chou being taught by Lau’s character, but Lau said that he had no interest in playing a teacher, so he suggested the film be about a rivalry instead. It’s currently in script stage, and will not be able to shoot until the end of the year because of Lau’s commitments to Andrew Lau and Johnnie To’s new films. Of course, Apple Daily adds that no official announcements have been made, and no one is commenting, so this may be stuck in the rumor mill for a while.

Apple Daily also adds that the film seems similar to Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige, but no one has responded to such claims since no one will even confirm that the film is being made yet.

- The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Singaporean director Eric Khoo, who talks about shooting on a Singaporean budget and dealing with strict censors.

- Part of a weeklong feature, author Haruki Murakami talks to the Mainichi Daily News about his latest novel, which is poised to be even longer than The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, which took me 2 months to read because it was so damn long.

The Golden Rock - May 26th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All drama sypnoses are at Tokyograph.

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - April 27th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time! From Japan Times is Mark Schilling’s take on Berlin Film Festival winner Park and Love Hotel. From the Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa’s review of the Japanese blockbuster Shaolin Girl. Twitch’s Todd Brown delivers a review of Ryuichi Hiroki’s Your Friends, which hasn’t opened in its native Japan yet, if I’m not mistaken. Lastly, there’s Jason Gray’s pseudo-early review of the new Japanese film Flavor of Happiness, starring Miki Nakatani.

- State regulators in Singapore have imposed a fine on a TV network there for a broadcasting a home decorating show that reportedly “normalized and promoted a homosexual lifestyle”. Now, why aren’t there anyone protesting against Singapore?

- On the other hand, the Nobel Foundation dropped their official broadcaster in Sweden because their award ceremony was censored in China, which means the network didn’t follow the terms it had with the foundation when they drew up their agreement with the Chinese networks.

- Instead of risking downloading films in their own home, some Chinese people have been going to illegally-operated internet cafes to watch screening of movies that were downloaded illegally by the cafes. While Chinese producer Huayi Brothers have won a lawsuit against three of these cafes, I doubt that people will be scared into stop downloading. Hell, even film school students here download the movies they watch, which may be one of the most depressing things happening to the industry today.

-This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri gives a big big thumbs down to the Japanese drama adaptation of the hit Korean romantic comedy My Sassy Girl. There are also short one-sentence reviews of current dramas as well.

- Grady has already linked one teaser this week (the new Tetsuya Nakashima film Paco and the Magic Book), and now he delivers one for the new Tsui Hark film Missing, which is a…….horror flick?! Could this be Tsui Hark’s Linger?

- Also, Jason Gray delivers a trailer for the abused-children-in-third-world-country drama Children of the Dark.

The Golden Rock - April 15th, 2008 Edition

Welcome to an extended Tuesday edition of The Golden Rock. By extended, I mean it’s taking me 2 days to compile and write this entry.

- In Hong Kong weekend box office (the link you click on will probably have been updated for Monday box office already, though), Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms is at the top again with HK$924,000 from 40 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$13.99 million. That not only means that the film didn’t lose much of its business from last weekend, but also Daniel Lee can now make more crappy and overdubbed historical epics. Sylvia Chang’s Run Papa Run saw a pretty big boost in business over the weekend, making HK$813,000 from 30 screens for a weekend total of HK$2.65 million. The Pang Brother-produced (one of them) horror flick scare 2 die hangs in there with HK$91,000 on 14 screens that are probably not playing it 5 shows a day.

As for foreign flicks, John Rambo made HK$526,000 from 28 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.74 million. Step Up 2 the Streets is a real sleeper hit with another HK$482,000 from 27 screens on Sunday and a 11-day total of HK$6.07 million. British comedy Run Fat Boy Run couldn’t go far with only HK$99,000 from 10 screens for a 4-day total of HK$350,000. Small Irish film Once is still doing OK with HK$52,000 from 4 screens for a 11-day total of HK$460,000.

- In Japanese box office attendance figures, a Masked Rider movie made its way to the top (which I’m sure is something that can only happen in Japan….on a quiet weekend), while Cloverfield drops by one place along with Enchanted. Meanwhile, Curse of the Golden Flower managed to open in the top 10, even though it’s opening a year and 4 months later than everywhere else in the world. I guess the appeal of Jay Chou didn’t reach Japan. More when the numbers are out.

- Since only very few Spring dramas have premiered in Japan, we’ll get to the drama ratings report next week.

- I first read it up on the Hong Kong Film blog, and it was also reported as the entertainment headline on Apple Daily: Johnnie To’s English-language film debut, the remake of the French film Le Cercle Rouge, is a go to start shooting in June. It will be starring Liam Neeson, Orlando Bloom, and Chow Yun-Fat. However, To confirmed that he has only signed Orlando with the other two’s deals in the works. The film will be shot in Macau and Hong Kong with a budget of USD$40 million dollars. Now you may scream in excitement.

- A Filipino film about the Manila squatter slum has picked up multiple prizes at the Singapore International Film Festival, including Best Asian film. Last week, it was reported that four films at the festival were banned for their possibly undesirable content.

- Despite calls from both a major figure and the shrine in question asking for their footages to be deleted, Yasukuni distributor Argo is refusing to make the cuts and is now consulting with lawyers about said requests. Fight the good fight, y’all.

- Here’s something that I don’t think a lot of people ask for, but will probably get anyway: Japanese consumers can now spend about US$4,500 on a 3D TV……to watch one hour of 3D programming currently being broadcast everyday. In the future, Kimura Takuya’s hair will fly towards you during those Gatsby commercials.

- Speaking of celebrity advertising, learn English at ECC, or Takeshi Kitano will come and stick chopsticks up your nose. Why not ECC, indeed.

- How’s this for an unlike pairing? Bad girl Anna Tsuchiya will be providing her vocal talents to the new Anpanman movie.

Anna Tsuchiya:

annajapantimes.jpg

Anpanman:

anpanman.jpg

Who wants to take bets which one Anna is doing?

- Cine Quanon, a fairly major indie distributor in Japan, will be closing their theater in Seoul. No word on whether they will reopen at another location.

- If you all remember, the upcoming Japanese drama adaptation Sushi Ouji was greenlit before the series even aired, and the ratings ended up being fairly unspectacular. Without even bothering to find out how that went (the film will open this Saturday), Shochiku went ahead and greenlit the sequel to their new film Tsukiji Uogashi Sandaime before it even opens in June. Apparently, they hope to turn it into a modern “Taro-san” film series. I know Japanese people love fish and everything, but does that apply to paying 1800 yen every year to see a movie about it?

- A little more rational move by Shochiku this week is their decision to distribute HD-recorded Kabuki performances not only overseas, but also on commercial flights.

- In Hong Kong TV, there are only 2 free-to-air networks: TVB and ATV. TVB tends to take up about 80%-90% of viewership, which means ATV is just there because it has to be there. However, ATV finally scored a small victory Sunday night, when their Chinese channel showed a James Bond movie. It got a 11 rating, which is already better than the average ATV rating. Meanwhile, TVB’s Chinese channel was showing Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, which only got a 10 rating. Yes, that means James Bond beat Wong Kar-Wai, which is a little sad from a film fan’s point of view, but happy from a fan of a little competition in the TV industry.

- After hitting one disappointment after another, Viz Media (buy their Japanese movies DVDs, people! They actually got good movies!) has found a new way to distribute Death Note in North America - by making it a limited event.

The Golden Rock - March 24th, 2008 Edition

The blogger has been extremely busy during the holiday weekend, which would explain the lack of posts. Maybe.

- Before we go over the Hong Kong box office tomorrow, let’s look at how things were on Thursday opening day. Patrick Kong’s L for Love, L For Lies actually remained on top with HK$680,000 from 35 screens. As for opening films, Spiderwick Chronicles opened on 35 screens with HK$650,000 and should do well for the weekend, Charlie Wilson’s War opened at just 19 screens and made HK$350,000. Under “possible disappointments” is the opening for Ching Siu-Tung’s An Empress and the Warriors, which opened on 35 screens with only HK$600,000. One of the possible reasons may be the audience not being able to find a Cantonese version (even though the trailers were dubbed in Cantonese and the film features actors based in Hong Kong), but I’m just guessing. Either way, it’s not poised to pass the HK$10 million mark at this point. We’ll know more during the week.

- The Winter 2007 Japanese drama season is pretty much over (with two dramas having yet to wrap up), and the highest-rated series of the season is the Monday 9pm Fuji drama Bara No Nai Hanaya with an average 18.2 rating a week ahead of its finale. In a far-off second is Saito-san with an average 15.5 rating. The disappointment of the season has to be Sasaki Fusai No Jingi Naki Tatakai, which opened with a strong 17.3 rating, but ends up averaging only 10.9 by the end of the season. Hell, even The Negotiator could recover for an average 13.4 rating by the time it ended. However, the lowest-rated drama this season belongs to Yon Shimai Tantei, which saw an average 7.0 rating and even saw one of its episodes get only a 3.5 rating. On the other hand, with an average 7.1 rating, Ashita No Kita Yoshio performed more consistently bad and had the lowest-rated finale of the bunch.

There ends another bad season for dramas, but with KimuTaku returning this coming season, perhaps ratings will pick up a little bit.

- Speaking of Japanese TV, this week’s Televiews column on the Yomiuri is about the various “Monagatari” (The Japanese word for “story) on the Japanese TV these days.

- While the usual big-time surely got what they wanted at Filmart this year, Malaysia companies also managed to strike some big-time deals on their own, especially in animation.

- It’s reviews time! This weekend, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling looks at actor Jiro Sato’s directorial debut Memo. Meanwhile, Japan Times’ Giovanni Fazio looks at Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights. In fact, the Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa also looks at My Blueberry Nights, although she seems to like it more than Fazio did. From the Hollywood Reporter, Elizabeth Karr looks at Joe Ma’s Sasori and calls it “vile” and “lacking in wit, irony and wisdom.” Meanwhile, Maggie Lee looks at the Korean film Man Who Was Superman, starring Jeon Ji-Hyun.

- Please, can someone tell me why the world needs an animated version of the hit Korean drama Winter Sonata? Oh, well, at least they got Yon-sama himself to dub the voice.

-  It’s trailers time! First, Twitch has a trailer for Katsuhito Ishii’s latest film Yama No Anata, with Smap member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi as a blind masseur who doesn’t kill people. They also have the final theatrical trailer for the Stephen Chow-produced blockbuster junk food Shaolin Girl. It’s not only Lacrosse with Shaolin kung-fu: it also has villains kicking ass.

- The comeback edition of the Yubari Fantastic Film Festival ended on Sunday successfully, and the short film Daichi o Tataku Onna picked up the competition prize.

Shin Ka-Hyun is now joining Song Kang-Ho for Park Chan-Wook’s latest Thirst. You know what that means? When Bae Doo Na’s in, we have ourself a Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance reunion!

- Lastly, the Yomiuri does a feature on African-American enka singer Jero, who has hit the big time with the young using an old-fashioned genre.

The Golden Rock - March 12/13th, 2008 Edition

- The story was first on Variety Asia, but I’ll reference Twitch because the story has simply disappeared at the time of writing: D-War director Shim Hyung-rae was a comedian before he became a director, and now that D-War was a big hit, he’s relying on cgi to make the next big comedy featuring himself. Specifically, he’s bringing back his old popular character and make him act opposite a cgi-created Marlon Brando playing the godfather Vito Corleone. Someone stop this man, please.

- Those looking oh so forward to the potentially-disastrous Dragonball live-action film will just have to wait a little longer: The film has been delayed from an August release date to next April. Unless you’re in Japan, then you get to see it a month earlier.

- Yet another country has picked up the rights to the hit Colombian telenovela for their own remake, and guess what that country is going to be naming it?

- Detroit Metal City, the high-profile comic adaptation starring Kenichi Matsuyama hopefully walking straight with less eyeliner this time, has finally started filming and is scheduled to open this summer. They’ve been talking about this movie so long, I thought they’re done shooting the damn thing already.

- With the recent scandal and controversy and the various failures, organizers of the Bangkok International Film Festival are still trying to keep on truckin’ for this July….even though no programming work has been done, and they don’t really have enough money.

- New artist Thelma Aoyama’s hit single “Soba Ni Iru Ne” has broken a record of being downloaded one million times to cell phones in the quickest time. With a catchy song hitting popularity this fast, let’s hope she’s not a one-hit wonder.

- Ryuganji’s Don Brown gives us his own thoughts on Yoji Yamada’s Kabei. I’m still on the fence over whether I want to catch this at the Hong Kong Film Festival.

- Both Variety and Hollywood Reporter are covering Ang Lee and James Schamus’ win of the Freedom of Expression Award by the National Association of Theater Owners for Lust, Caution. Variety reports that the film’s release in America went extremely smooth, despite the NC-17 rating, and The Hollywood Reporter even got an interview.

- Speaking of which, Jason Gray writes about a Japanese AV star who seems to have some breakout potential.

- Courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth, Danwei asks a question, and my answer is a definite yes.

- On the other hand, English literature about China is apparently the big thing right now, though the writers don’t exactly expect it to last.

- While the previously planned Justin Lin’s remake of Oldboy seems to have stalled, Charlize Theron is looking to produce and star in another installment of Park Chan-Wook’s classic revenge trilogy.

- There may be hope for band members everywhere who aren’t lead singers: Tokio keyboardist Taichi Kokubun now has a show on all six of the major networks in Tokyo. For most bands’ keyboardist. they’re lucky if they get their own show on public access.

- There’s another review of Singaporean director Kelvin Tong’s Rule #1, starring Shawn Yue and Ekin Cheng.

- The Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix for the Winter 2007 season has been announced, even though the season isn’t even over yet. Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi ended up winning 3 awards: Best Drama, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. However, the drama has been struggling in the ratings, averaging only a 9.9% rating throughout the season.

The Golden Rock - January 14th, 2008 Edition

It was a public holiday in Japan on Monday, so that means no box office reports and no TV drama ratings either. I’ll wait until tomorrow.

- Hong Kong box office was generally weak this past weekend (at least on Sunday). The top 10 films’ box office gross ranged from HK$116,000 to only HK$256,000. On top finally is Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, which made only HK$256,000 from 25 screens for an 11-day total of HK$2.8 million. However, if not for the HK$10 increase per ticket (due to running time), it would’ve lost out to National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which made HK$247,000 from 32 screens for a 25-total of HK$17.08 million.

As for opening films, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium actually came out on top with HK$231,000 from just 11 screens for a 4-day total of HK$720,000. Meanwhile, Thursday’s winner The Deaths of Ian Stone fell all the way to 8th place with HK$166,000 from 12 screens (this is actually slightly higher than its opening day gross) for a HK$690,000 4-day total. Johnnie To’s Linger remains dead on arrival with only HK$167,000 from 22 screens with just HK$620,000 after 4 days. It may not even reach the HK$2 million mark when it’s all over.

In holdovers. Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights did end up passing the HK$2 million mark, making HK$201,000 from 14 screens on Sunday. After its second weekend, the road drama has made HK$2.13 million.

HK$7.8=US$1

-  The Philippine non-profit organization The Cinemalaya Foundation has picked the ten projects for a grant from the organization to help complete in time to compete at its film festival in July. The films apparently have to articulate Philippine culture, made on digital technology, and filmmakers have to have done less than 3 films.

- In case you wanted it, an English-subtitled trailer is out for Stephen Chow’s latest CJ7. The bad news? It’s dubbed in Mandarin. This is starting to bring back memories of The Magic Gourd, which is probably a bad thing.

- At least Chow tells you that this movie is going to be pushing for tears, which wouldn’t be my own definitely of “heartwarming”. But hey, he’s the one making millions of dollars, and I’m the one paying US$8,000 a year for film school, so what do I know?

But I am a critic, and I’m looking forward to CJ7 less and less now.

-  With the Chinese total box office growing by 20% in 2007, I can bet more Hong Kong filmmakers will turn to pleasing Mainland Chinese audiences to make the big bucks. However, will this lead to more artistically successful filmmakers staying in Hong Kong? In other words, will Hong Kong cinema go in the way of Taiwanese cinema?

- There’s a trailer for the new Korean comedy Radio Days, and it looks like it might be good. I emphasize “might” because dramatic elements in Korean comedies are always a bit of a wild card.

- According to Kaiju Shakedown, My Name is Fame director Lawrence Lau is making a film based on the alleged assassination attempt on Taiwanese president Chen Sui-Bian starring Simon Yam and Gordon Lam. Which conspiracy theory will it follow?

The Golden Rock - November 20th, 2007 Edition

- Jackie Chan is an unpredictable man - He bashes his own movies on his blog, justifying their existence and his appearance in them with the “I need the money” excuse. Next thing you know, he’s starting a production company with the director of one of those hack films. Why, Jackie, why do you do this to us?

- Under “TV dramas no one asked for” news today, China’s Huayi Brothers reportedly bought the rights to make a 30-episode adaptation of Ang Lee’s erotic espionage drama Lust, Caution after they realize even the censored version is making a ton of money. No other details have emerged so far.

- Speaking of Chinese TV cashing in, advertisers are bidding for spots up on CCTV 9 months early for the Olympics, including foreign advertisers such as KFC, Johnson & Johnson, and Red Bull.

- Hong Kong and Malaysian police, in what seems to be separate operations, raided and arrested pirated disc producers. Among the films confiscated in the Hong Kong bust? Lust, Caution, the movie with the ultra-high-security policy set in for Hong Kong cinemas.

It’s hard to believe, but I still see pirate vendors actually standing on sidewalks selling DVDs here in Hong Kong. Basically, they have a portable fold-out box with several guys standing around the vicinity as lookouts while they sell in front of high-volume areas.

- That Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung certainly works fast: After seeing his somewhat controversial-but-intentionally-underwhelming dark comedy Exodus released in September, his omnibus film Trivial Matters already has a release date of December 20th. By “his” omnibus film, I mean it’s a collection of 7 stories that Pang wrote himself and will be adapting to film all by himself. That’s 3 semesters’ worth of film school projects right there.

The “bad news” part of all this? I’m going on vacation ON December 20th for 2 weeks. That means I’ll be sadly missing it for sure.

- There’s no huge high-profile world premiere, but the first Kuala Lampur International Film Festival has 22 films from 18 countries, living up to their intention of “celebrating cultural diversity”.

- Sonny Chiba, who co-directed a film earlier in the year under his Japanese name Shinichi Chiba, has announced he will not only start directing movies under a different name from now on, he will also continue his acting career under yet another name.

The Golden Rock - October 26th, 2007 Edition

The start of another weekend, and the beginning of spreading news out over 3 days. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of news all weekend.

- Last week I linked to the review for Suzuki Matsuo’s Welcome to the Quiet Room, which opened on 13 screens last weekend. With one theater in Shibuya seeing full house all day on opening day, the comedy-drama made an impressive 15.47 million yen, surely scoring the best per-screen average amidst the weak box office.

Meanwhile, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling chimes in with a review.

- There are also a ton of stories about the animated series Afro Samurai, which is seeing its extended cut get a theatrical release in Japan this weekend.

First, there’s a report from The Associated Press/The Daily Yomiuri about the reaction to the first series.

Then the Japan Times has a feature on what’s next, including a comic book version by the creator himself.

And then comes the confirmation that creator Okazaki is now working on the production of the second series.

- Don’t think I forgot about the Tokyo International Film Festival. Actually, I’ve been waiting all week for a review anywhere for the opening film Midnight Eagle. But the only news about the film so far is that it’s been sold to a few more territories, including this blogger’s current city of residency Hong Kong.

- At least we know Tokyo is the real land of opportunity: Even a movie a written by the writer of the Tony Jaa starrer Tom Yum Goong can win the Tokyo Project Award out of 37 other movies.

- Meanwhile, another film festival is underway. In addition to the Sylvia Chang tribute, the World Film Festival of Bangkok opened with the unintentionally funny historical epic Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (lovingly called here as “that Genghis Khan movie).

- Also, the Reel Asian International Film Festival in Toronto announced its lineup. Try to avoid the self-promotion along the way.

- Lastly, in your daily Lust, Caution news, the Philippines will be getting a full uncensored version of Ang Lee’s erotic espionage drama in its theatres while those in neighboring countries are stuck with a censored version.

Sadly, it has also become the little puppy without a home, as the Hong Kong Film Awards have also disqualified the Asian co-production because it doesn’t feature eight Hong Kong residents in key creative roles.

That, and a ton of other unfairness in the world from Kaiju Shakedown.

 
 
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