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Archive for the ‘Southeast Asia’ Category

The Golden Rock - October 5th, 2007 Edition

As the second round of filmmaking starts in film school, expect updates to be somewhat short in the next few days.

- The Pusan Film Festival is now fully under way. This year, there’s a retrospective on New Taiwan Cinema director Edward Yang, who passed away earlier this year from colon cancer. Variety Asia has a feature on Yang’s filmography and also another feature by Derek “Too Little Lust and Too Much Caution” Elley about his own experiences with Yang.

- There’s also a report on Variety Asia about the festival’s opening film The Assembly.

- Just as the film festival is starting, the Pusan (or Busan?) film critics are also taking the opportunities to give out their film and rising stars awards. Most of the awards have already been announced: Im Sang-Soo will win best director for The Old Garden, Song Kang-Ho will win best actor for The Show Must Go On, Yeh Ji-Won will win best actress for Old Miss Diary, and Tezza: The High Rollers will win for best screenplay. Also, Daniel Henney will win best actor at the rising star awards. I guess now I should check out My Father, I expect he would act better than he did in Seducing Mr. Perfect.

- Turns out the rumors out there about the Hong Kong “relay film” Triangle being brought back for a major re-edit after Cannes are not correct - the film only went back for audio remix and “print tuning,” which means everyone in Hong Kong will be seeing the Cannes version all the critics were panning about.

- It’s reviews time! Variety has a review for Singaporean best foreign film Academy Award entry 881 and a review for Yoichi Sai’s Korean debut Soo, which I also reviewed a while ago.

That’s it for today. No, really, it’s the weekend. I need to save some news for the rest of the weekend.

The Golden Rock - September 23rd, 2007 Edition

Like I wrote before, not much news for the weekend, finishing off what I gathered from Friday and some

- After winning at Berlin and the Fribourg Film Festivals, Japanese actress Kaori Momoi’s directorial debut Faces of a Fig Tree just picked up the best director and best actress awards at the Vladivostok International Film Festival of Asian Pacific Countries, with both awards going to Momoi. It looks interesting, but its official website doesn’t even seem to have a trailer.

Meanwhile, here’s a review by Russell Edwards of Variety.

- Luc Besson - AKA European cinema’s favorite Asianphile - speaks to the Daily Yomiuri during his promotional tour in Japan to promote his animated film Arthur and the Invisibles. What does this have to do with Asian cinema, you ask? The American distributor of Arthur and the Invisibles is the Weinstein Company, who cut Besson’s film for the American release, and Besson was definitely not happy about that.

- It’s reviews time! From Lovehkfilm’s Kozo comes two reviews - one for Jiang Wen’s The Sun Also Rises, and one for the Jet Li Hollywood B-movie War/Rogue Assassins. From Sanjuro is a review of the Korean family comedy Bunt. The Daily Yomiuri has a review of Ryuichi Hiroki’s M. Isn’t this already his second or third theatrical release of the year?

- China continues to attract outside talent as they just signed co-production deals with two Asian countries. Korea’s CJ Entertainment will be co-producing the latest film by Jacob Cheung (Battle of Wits) - a martial arts epic named Thangka to be released in Lunar New Year 2009 - and they will also be part of a joint venture with 3 other production studios based out of China and Hong Kong to nurture young Chinese filmmakers.

Meanwhile, China and Singapore have sign agreements to help on each other’s film festivals. For example, there will be a Singapore film festival in Beijing, and there will be a section devoted to Chinese films in the next Singapore Film Festival.

- Now to the more negative side of Chinese entertainment, the government has published a new mandate that will pretty much kill the reality talent show genre on Chinese TV. The new rules stipulate that the shows cannot be shown between 7:30pm and 10:30 pm, “scientific judging standards” for the contestants, allowing only live voting, and each show may not last longer than 2 months, or no more than 10 shows at 90 minutes each. Just when you thought things were looking better…

The Golden Rock - September 22nd, 2007 Edition

The Golden Rock just finished his first short film in Hong Kong yesterday, so we decided to take a little break yesterday. Plus, there’s just not enough news to spread out over three days anyway.

- After last reporting that the US-based Viz Media picked up the two Death Note movies, they have also announced that they picked up the film festival-favorite/weirdfest Funky Forest.

In a related note, Grady Hendrix also has an interview with Manami Iiboshi, the Director of Marketing for Viz Pictures, who mentions that Viz is actually building their own arthouse theater is San Francisco to push their Japanese live-action film acquisitions.

- It’s not a first in terms of film, but I guess it’s a first for him. Korean actor Kim Rae Won will be starring in his first Japanese film alongside Japanese actress Mirai Yamamoto. As always, it’s yet another love story between characters whom I presume to be Korean and Japanese, and hey, you won’t have to wait long: the filming already took place this past Spring.

- Two more Asian countries decide on what film to submit to compete for the Academy Awards for the best foreign film - Singapore will send the hit musical 881, while the Philippines will send Donsol, which has won awards at several film festivals.

- This weekend, the Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has a review of Naoko Ogigami’s Megane, her long-awaited follow-up to the indie hit The Seagull Diner.

That’s it for today, but look for a long-awaited entry in the spin-off

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2007 Edition

- Reviews for this year’s Venice surprise film - Johnnie To’s Mad Detective starring Lau Ching-Wan - are out from the two big trade papers. Variety’s Derek Elley calls it a neat idea that doesn’t quite hit the bull’s eye, and that it’s a rewrite or two away from achieving the rigor of a To movie. On the other hand, Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett, who can’t seem to spell “Johnnie” right, is a lot kinder, calling it concise and artful.

- Sony is changing their focus, putting more emphasis on foreign films when they realized that these foreign films don’t need investors, but rather a widespread distribution network that Sony can offer.

- Takashi Miike’s latest Sukiyaki Western Django had its screening at Venice. However, responses from journalists and festival audiences are quite different. Sorry, guys, I can’t get excited about a Takashi Miike film as some of you may do.

- Leah Dizon is really starting to get huge not just in Japan (forget the fact that her last single didn’t sell much), but in the rest of Asia as well. Her debut album, which will no doubt feature lots of easy-to-sing song with carefully pronounced Japanese, will be released simultaneously in 9 countries. However, I doubt a number of her fans are fans because of her singing. I suspect this might have something to do with it.

- It saw a screening at Venice, and it opens this weekend at home: Japan Times’s March Schilling has a review of Shinji Aoyama’s latest Sad Vacation, which supposedly wraps up a Kita Kyushu Saga. Along with that, Japan Times also has an interview with Aoyama himself. In addition, it’s been out for a while, but there’s also a review of the documentary The Cats of Mirikitani.

- Twitch has a review of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution from Toronto, calling it the most disappointing film at the festival so far. Ouch.

- By the way, Jacky Cheung is singing the theme song for Lust, Caution, presumably before he got sick and canceled his concerts

- The Singapore-based Asian Film Archive is getting a donation of 90 Malaysian classic films that will be restored and archived (but of course. That’s what an archive is for).

- They never succeed, but they keep trying: a Hong Kong-based sports media company has signed a deal to broadcast National Football League (American football) games across Asia. This comes after several hurdles to bring NFL outside the United States, including the postponement of an exhibition game in China and the closure of the NFL European League.

- They’re outsourcing everything to India these days. Even Sony is outsourcing the production of their direct-to-video sequel to the animated film Open Season to India and New Mexico (that’s in America, not Mexico).

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2007 Edition

- Reviews for this year’s Venice surprise film - Johnnie To’s Mad Detective starring Lau Ching-Wan - are out from the two big trade papers. Variety’s Derek Elley calls it a neat idea that doesn’t quite hit the bull’s eye, and that it’s a rewrite or two away from achieving the rigor of a To movie. On the other hand, Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett, who can’t seem to spell “Johnnie” right, is a lot kinder, calling it concise and artful.

- Sony is changing their focus, putting more emphasis on foreign films when they realized that these foreign films don’t need investors, but rather a widespread distribution network that Sony can offer.

- Takashi Miike’s latest Sukiyaki Western Django had its screening at Venice. However, responses from journalists and festival audiences are quite different. Sorry, guys, I can’t get excited about a Takashi Miike film as some of you may do.

- Leah Dizon is really starting to get huge not just in Japan (forget the fact that her last single didn’t sell much), but in the rest of Asia as well. Her debut album, which will no doubt feature lots of easy-to-sing song with carefully pronounced Japanese, will be released simultaneously in 9 countries. However, I doubt a number of her fans are fans because of her singing. I suspect this might have something to do with it.

- It saw a screening at Venice, and it opens this weekend at home: Japan Times’s March Schilling has a review of Shinji Aoyama’s latest Sad Vacation, which supposedly wraps up a Kita Kyushu Saga. Along with that, Japan Times also has an interview with Aoyama himself. In addition, it’s been out for a while, but there’s also a review of the documentary The Cats of Mirikitani.

- Twitch has a review of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution from Toronto, calling it the most disappointing film at the festival so far. Ouch.

- By the way, Jacky Cheung is singing the theme song for Lust, Caution, presumably before he got sick and canceled his concerts

- The Singapore-based Asian Film Archive is getting a donation of 90 Malaysian classic films that will be restored and archived (but of course. That’s what an archive is for).

- They never succeed, but they keep trying: a Hong Kong-based sports media company has signed a deal to broadcast National Football League (American football) games across Asia. This comes after several hurdles to bring NFL outside the United States, including the postponement of an exhibition game in China and the closure of the NFL European League.

- They’re outsourcing everything to India these days. Even Sony is outsourcing the production of their direct-to-video sequel to the animated film Open Season to India and New Mexico (that’s in America, not Mexico).

The Golden Rock - August 20th, 2007 Edition.

If you haven’t noticed the link section by now, I now officially announce the opening of The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock. As I wrote in the first post, this spin-off blog is a result of a realization that the daily The Golden Rock entries are getting way too long. I will move all movie reviews and general Hong Kong observations into that blog, so expect reviews of some of the films I’ve seen here in Hong Kong and probably better pictures. Either way, it’ll be fun.

- If these stats are right, it was a pretty busy Sunday at the Hong Kong box office. Pixar’s Ratatouille pulled a surprising victory over Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour 3, making HK$1.07 million on 33 screens, passing the HK$20 million mark after 18 days. While Rush Hour 3 won Thursday, its weekend bump wasn’t enough, making only HK$1 million on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$3.52 million. Then again, a few people at the screening I went to (out of a meager 15 or so) seemed to have enjoy it. Maybe they were high. The other opening film of the weekend, Walt Disney China’s The Magic Gourd, rebounded from its weak Thursday opening for a Sunday gross of HK$310,000 from 16 screens for a 4-day total of HK$840,000, ensuring that the film will indeed pass the HK$1 million mark. I walked by one of the theaters showing it on Sunday, and the monitor showed that the film was actually at at least 80-85% capacity, so I’m not surprised it did so well that day.

As for returning films, The Simpsons Movie leads the pack with HK$700,000 on 36 screens for an 11-day total of HK$8.07 million. It should pass the HK$10 million mark this coming week, especially for a cartoon that I’ve never seen shown on HK television (is it on HK television? Let me know). The Bourne Ultimatum managed to retain some word-of-mouth and rebounded on Sunday with HK$550,000 on 30 screens for a HK$6.88 million 11-day total. Another action film getting word-of-mouth but still being pushed out is Wilson Yip’s Flash Point (which I will review on the spin-off). Screens are dwindling down, and a lot of exhibitors are only showing this three times or less a day, but it still made HK$460,000 on 28 screens for a 11-day total of HK$7.35 million.

- Holy shit, this D-War thing is getting crazy. After its third weekend, the dragon-in-LA blockbuster has now accumulated 7.45 million admissions and is now the 7th biggest film of all time in Korea. the “historical” film May 18 ain’t doing so bad, either, with over 6 million admissions already. With Korean films taking the top 4 spots this weekend, does that mean local films are making a comeback, or just a weakening Hollywood lineup?

- We won’t have any numbers for Japan until tomorrow, but admission rankings shows Harry Potter overtaking Ocean’s 13 to become number 1 again. Under “disappointing openings” today, Fumihiko Sori’s Vexville opens at 9th place.

- In a brief roundup of drama ratings, Papa To Musume No Nanakakan wrapped up on Sunday with a 14.5 rating after scoring a season-low 11.9 rating last week. In the end, the Freaky Friday-clone scored an OK-average of 13.9, making it the 4th highest-rated drama of the season if things hold up. Meanwhile, the highest-rated drama of the season title was between First Kiss and Hana Zagari no Kimitachi he, but both are suffering from season-low ratings. Actually, everything is suffering from falling ratings, but Hana happened to have started high enough to stay on top.

Lastly, Sushi Ouji, the drama that had such high expectations that a movie was greenlit before the drama even began airing, has fallen to a 5.9 rating in its 4th week after premiering it with an 8.8. Who do they exactly expect to see the movie now?

- Wow. Sonny Chiba’s directorial debut is set to be released this Friday, and I had no idea. Oyaji stars Sonny Chiba as a loving father who dies in a family that ends up tearing his family apart. However, he suddenly returns the life, and I guess kicks a lot of ass with a shovel. It’ll only play in one Tokyo theater for one show a night, but it actually looks pretty good. Hell, I’ll buy an advance ticket just for that lighter.

And yes, I realize from the trailer that Chiba is only co-directing it, but I would guess that applies to scenes he’s not in, so that makes it a pretty big deal.

- Vietnamese-French director Tran Ahn Hung (Cyclo) is working on a new film, and it actually features a pretty major Panasian cast. I know Josh Harnett isn’t anything exciting, but it also features Shawn Yu (an actor I’m coming to like more and more), Lee Byung-Heon, and Japanese drama king Kimura Takuya. The story doesn’t sound that good, but I can’t help but hope for the best.

- And they wonder why Hong Kong people can’t accept Mainland Chinese movies. The chairman of China Film Group was reported saying that China needs more films that promote nationalism and are “ethically inspiring.” The quote that pissed me off the most? “‘The reality of this country’s economic reforms is that the country, the race, is prospering…There can’t be anyone who makes fun of it. People who do either have ulterior motives or they’re mentally challenged’” He really sounds like an American right-winger when he says that; maybe he should move to the American South and let the people who know what they’re doing (i.e. the filmmakers) do their jobs.

- Hell, even Jet Li is pissed at the way movies work in China. After attempting to make movies with positive messages that still fail to get into China, Li is speaking out about his annoyances.

- In a related note, Zhang Ziyi will star in a movie called Laundry Warriors.

- The US trailer for Johnnie To’s Exiled is up from Magnolia Pictures, and they sure make it look better than your usual Hong Kong action film trailer. Still, what’s up with all the shots of the girl in her underwear? Those are all from the same scene.

- The India film industry not-so-politely ask you all to stop calling their film industry Bollywood. And I politely ask them to stop remaking movies and just add sing-and-dance scenes into it.

- They’re so in love! While Wilson Yip’s next film is a co-directing effort that puts Donnie Yen as a horror-action hero, they’re already working on their film after that. What’s scary is that Yen will play Wisely, a legendary modern literary character that one can compare as the Sherlock Holmes of Hong Kong - but with supernatural aspects. In case you don’t know, the last Wisely movie was Wesley’s Mysterious Files. Now I know what kind of expectations to put on this.

- There’s a review for one of this year’s major Japanese drama adaptation films Unfair: The Movie. Caution, it does contain some spoilers, including one major plot twist.

- Chinese audiences are in love with contrived reality, as the reality gimmick show Wife Swap is a hit. And yet they’re not allowed to watch Chow Yun-Fat play a Singaporean.

- This remains unconfirmed, but Pang Ho-Cheung, whose award-nominated Exodus is coming out next month, will be producing with Chapman To on a new film after the critical success of Isabella, the first film under their production company. This new film will make up 8 stories of different genres (all to be directed by Pang?) and its initial cast list include Chapman To himself, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue, Isabella Leung, and Gillian Chung.

Source: Oriental Daily.

The Golden Rock - August 20th, 2007 Edition.

If you haven’t noticed the link section by now, I now officially announce the opening of The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock. As I wrote in the first post, this spin-off blog is a result of a realization that the daily The Golden Rock entries are getting way too long. I will move all movie reviews and general Hong Kong observations into that blog, so expect reviews of some of the films I’ve seen here in Hong Kong and probably better pictures. Either way, it’ll be fun.

- If these stats are right, it was a pretty busy Sunday at the Hong Kong box office. Pixar’s Ratatouille pulled a surprising victory over Jackie Chan’s Rush Hour 3, making HK$1.07 million on 33 screens, passing the HK$20 million mark after 18 days. While Rush Hour 3 won Thursday, its weekend bump wasn’t enough, making only HK$1 million on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$3.52 million. Then again, a few people at the screening I went to (out of a meager 15 or so) seemed to have enjoy it. Maybe they were high. The other opening film of the weekend, Walt Disney China’s The Magic Gourd, rebounded from its weak Thursday opening for a Sunday gross of HK$310,000 from 16 screens for a 4-day total of HK$840,000, ensuring that the film will indeed pass the HK$1 million mark. I walked by one of the theaters showing it on Sunday, and the monitor showed that the film was actually at at least 80-85% capacity, so I’m not surprised it did so well that day.

As for returning films, The Simpsons Movie leads the pack with HK$700,000 on 36 screens for an 11-day total of HK$8.07 million. It should pass the HK$10 million mark this coming week, especially for a cartoon that I’ve never seen shown on HK television (is it on HK television? Let me know). The Bourne Ultimatum managed to retain some word-of-mouth and rebounded on Sunday with HK$550,000 on 30 screens for a HK$6.88 million 11-day total. Another action film getting word-of-mouth but still being pushed out is Wilson Yip’s Flash Point (which I will review on the spin-off). Screens are dwindling down, and a lot of exhibitors are only showing this three times or less a day, but it still made HK$460,000 on 28 screens for a 11-day total of HK$7.35 million.

- Holy shit, this D-War thing is getting crazy. After its third weekend, the dragon-in-LA blockbuster has now accumulated 7.45 million admissions and is now the 7th biggest film of all time in Korea. the “historical” film May 18 ain’t doing so bad, either, with over 6 million admissions already. With Korean films taking the top 4 spots this weekend, does that mean local films are making a comeback, or just a weakening Hollywood lineup?

- We won’t have any numbers for Japan until tomorrow, but admission rankings shows Harry Potter overtaking Ocean’s 13 to become number 1 again. Under “disappointing openings” today, Fumihiko Sori’s Vexville opens at 9th place.

- In a brief roundup of drama ratings, Papa To Musume No Nanakakan wrapped up on Sunday with a 14.5 rating after scoring a season-low 11.9 rating last week. In the end, the Freaky Friday-clone scored an OK-average of 13.9, making it the 4th highest-rated drama of the season if things hold up. Meanwhile, the highest-rated drama of the season title was between First Kiss and Hana Zagari no Kimitachi he, but both are suffering from season-low ratings. Actually, everything is suffering from falling ratings, but Hana happened to have started high enough to stay on top.

Lastly, Sushi Ouji, the drama that had such high expectations that a movie was greenlit before the drama even began airing, has fallen to a 5.9 rating in its 4th week after premiering it with an 8.8. Who do they exactly expect to see the movie now?

- Wow. Sonny Chiba’s directorial debut is set to be released this Friday, and I had no idea. Oyaji stars Sonny Chiba as a loving father who dies in a family that ends up tearing his family apart. However, he suddenly returns the life, and I guess kicks a lot of ass with a shovel. It’ll only play in one Tokyo theater for one show a night, but it actually looks pretty good. Hell, I’ll buy an advance ticket just for that lighter.

And yes, I realize from the trailer that Chiba is only co-directing it, but I would guess that applies to scenes he’s not in, so that makes it a pretty big deal.

- Vietnamese-French director Tran Ahn Hung (Cyclo) is working on a new film, and it actually features a pretty major Panasian cast. I know Josh Harnett isn’t anything exciting, but it also features Shawn Yu (an actor I’m coming to like more and more), Lee Byung-Heon, and Japanese drama king Kimura Takuya. The story doesn’t sound that good, but I can’t help but hope for the best.

- And they wonder why Hong Kong people can’t accept Mainland Chinese movies. The chairman of China Film Group was reported saying that China needs more films that promote nationalism and are “ethically inspiring.” The quote that pissed me off the most? “‘The reality of this country’s economic reforms is that the country, the race, is prospering…There can’t be anyone who makes fun of it. People who do either have ulterior motives or they’re mentally challenged’” He really sounds like an American right-winger when he says that; maybe he should move to the American South and let the people who know what they’re doing (i.e. the filmmakers) do their jobs.

- Hell, even Jet Li is pissed at the way movies work in China. After attempting to make movies with positive messages that still fail to get into China, Li is speaking out about his annoyances.

- In a related note, Zhang Ziyi will star in a movie called Laundry Warriors.

- The US trailer for Johnnie To’s Exiled is up from Magnolia Pictures, and they sure make it look better than your usual Hong Kong action film trailer. Still, what’s up with all the shots of the girl in her underwear? Those are all from the same scene.

- The India film industry not-so-politely ask you all to stop calling their film industry Bollywood. And I politely ask them to stop remaking movies and just add sing-and-dance scenes into it.

- They’re so in love! While Wilson Yip’s next film is a co-directing effort that puts Donnie Yen as a horror-action hero, they’re already working on their film after that. What’s scary is that Yen will play Wisely, a legendary modern literary character that one can compare as the Sherlock Holmes of Hong Kong - but with supernatural aspects. In case you don’t know, the last Wisely movie was Wesley’s Mysterious Files. Now I know what kind of expectations to put on this.

- There’s a review for one of this year’s major Japanese drama adaptation films Unfair: The Movie. Caution, it does contain some spoilers, including one major plot twist.

- Chinese audiences are in love with contrived reality, as the reality gimmick show Wife Swap is a hit. And yet they’re not allowed to watch Chow Yun-Fat play a Singaporean.

- This remains unconfirmed, but Pang Ho-Cheung, whose award-nominated Exodus is coming out next month, will be producing with Chapman To on a new film after the critical success of Isabella, the first film under their production company. This new film will make up 8 stories of different genres (all to be directed by Pang?) and its initial cast list include Chapman To himself, Edison Chen, Shawn Yue, Isabella Leung, and Gillian Chung.

Source: Oriental Daily.

The Golden Rock - July 31st, 2007 Edition

- That’s more like it - Michael Bay’s Transformers managed a huge surge in box office in Hong Kong on Sunday, making HK$4.3 million from 76 screens for a 4-day total of HK$14.05 million. Harry Potter is still very strong, with HK1.32 million on 53 screens for a 19-day total of HK$44.51 million. This one might overtake Spiderman 3 as the highest grossing of the year so far. Note that both these films had their ticket prices inflated by HK$10 (about 10-20%) due to length, which means their gross doesn’t equate to the usual attendance number.

Thanks to word-of-mouth (and no thanks to multiplexes putting in on small screens), Invisible Target hangs on for its second week, making a moderate HK$690,000 on 33 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.5 million. Hopefully it’ll stick around for another week so I can watch it next week. Jay Chou’s Secrets had a strong preview weekend, making HK$80,000 on 6 screens with three shows each, and a weekend total of HK$150,000. This signals that Secrets has a pretty strong opening weekend coming up. Secrets also opened in China this weekend, but only scored an 8th place opening on an unknown number of screens and showings. Lastly, the weekend’s only limited release Hula Girl makes a sad HK$20,000 on 3 screens for a HK$60,000 4-day total. This is going to be gone by the weekend.

- In Japanese box office numbers, Harry Potter is reported to have dropped 66%, which is not true since Warner Bros. accounted the early weekend preview numbers into its opening week gross. If you count only the 3-day total from last weekend, the film actually lost only about 43% in business, which is pretty good for a film on 919 screens. Meanwhile, Ratatouille didn’t do too bad either, scoring the highest per-screen average on the top 10, while all the films on the top 10 suffered only moderate drops. Meanwhile, Summer Day With Coo is a victim of the case where it beat Maiko Haaaan in the number of admissions, but lost out to it when it comes to dollars and cents because kids tickets cost less.

- It seems like while the success of Hollywood films continue, other foreign films aren’t doing too well in Japan this year. However, I can think of at least 3 Hong Kong films that opened in Japan, not two - Election, Dragon Tiger Gate, and Confession of Pain. On the other hand, that decline of Korean flicks is definitely pretty painful.

- As reported yesterday, May 18 took the weekend at the box office in Korea, but only at 1.3 million admissions, not the 1.4 figure that was previously reported. The Thai horror film Alone dropped to 8th place already, but not before taking over 450,000 admissions down with it, and it seems like Ratatouille performed a little weaker than I thought it would.

- With news stacking up this year about the lack of originality in Chinese pop music (and MTV as well), an angry blogger in China has decided to devote an entire blog exposing pop songs that allegedly are copying others. The blog is here (just click on the song titles to hear the song samples), but it got the Kelly Chan song “No Reservations” wrong. It didn’t copy Britney Spears’ “Boys”, but rather Destiny Child’s “Lose My Breath”. Hell, maybe it copied both songs. Plus, Britney Spears copied herself with Slave 4 U anyway.

- The top box office winner in Thailand right now, and we only report that kind of thing when it’s a standout, is a little crossdressing comedy named Kung Fu Tootsie. You read right. Twitch has more information here.

- Kenichi Matsuyama, the rising young star of Death Note, has signed on to star in the latest film to be directed by Korean-Japanese director Yoichi Sai (who also made Blood and Bones) and written by Ping Pong and Maiko Haaaan scribe Kankuro Kudo. This could be a good follow-up to the upcoming Death Note spinoff L.

- Be careful - if you are caught pirating films in Japan, be prepared to be treated like a Yakuza member.

- The Hong Kong film blog (in Chinese) has updated its release date sidebar - new release dates include Flashpoint for August 9th, Soi Cheang’s Shamo for September 6th, and Triangle for November 1st.

- Under “that director can do that?!” news today, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi has signed up for her third Hou Hsiao-Hsien film, this time set to be a kung-fu film. How the hell is he going to pull off his legendary 10-minute-plus long takes?

- On that note, under “how the hell are they going to pull that off?!” news today, Universal has acquired the rights to remake the Japanese period actioner Shinobi, except writer/director Max Makowski (who last directed Francis Ng in One Last Dance) is planning to move the story to Hong Kong and turning the two ninja clans into rival “multinational security forces” (whatever the hell that is). Why didn’t Universal just say it’s based on Romeo and Juliet and saved themselves a couple of bucks?

- Japanese musical group Pistol Valve managed to put their U.S. debut album onto the billboard charts. Specifically, it made number 15th on the internet album chart. Good for them.

- Get ready for yet another Panasian co-production. But this is a rare one, because it’s from Singapore. Other than that, even the title suggests that it’ll be the same old stuff.

- Following the steps of Wilson Chen and Choi Ji-Woo, Korean actor/singer Ryu Si-Won will join the cast of the upcoming Japanese drama Joshi Deka alongside Yukie Nakama. Apparently, he’ll even be speaking completely in Japan, which is not a surprise since he sings in Japanese anyway.

- Ken Watanabe’s daughter Anna Watanabe is making her acting debut in the previously-mentioned TV remake of Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low. Are there any pictures of her NOT in excessive makeup?

- The Tokyo International Film Festival has a couple of changes, including the addition of a world cinema section and a section dedicated to the portrayal of Tokyo that shows it as more than just another overcrowded city.

The Golden Rock - July 31st, 2007 Edition

- That’s more like it - Michael Bay’s Transformers managed a huge surge in box office in Hong Kong on Sunday, making HK$4.3 million from 76 screens for a 4-day total of HK$14.05 million. Harry Potter is still very strong, with HK1.32 million on 53 screens for a 19-day total of HK$44.51 million. This one might overtake Spiderman 3 as the highest grossing of the year so far. Note that both these films had their ticket prices inflated by HK$10 (about 10-20%) due to length, which means their gross doesn’t equate to the usual attendance number.

Thanks to word-of-mouth (and no thanks to multiplexes putting in on small screens), Invisible Target hangs on for its second week, making a moderate HK$690,000 on 33 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.5 million. Hopefully it’ll stick around for another week so I can watch it next week. Jay Chou’s Secrets had a strong preview weekend, making HK$80,000 on 6 screens with three shows each, and a weekend total of HK$150,000. This signals that Secrets has a pretty strong opening weekend coming up. Secrets also opened in China this weekend, but only scored an 8th place opening on an unknown number of screens and showings. Lastly, the weekend’s only limited release Hula Girl makes a sad HK$20,000 on 3 screens for a HK$60,000 4-day total. This is going to be gone by the weekend.

- In Japanese box office numbers, Harry Potter is reported to have dropped 66%, which is not true since Warner Bros. accounted the early weekend preview numbers into its opening week gross. If you count only the 3-day total from last weekend, the film actually lost only about 43% in business, which is pretty good for a film on 919 screens. Meanwhile, Ratatouille didn’t do too bad either, scoring the highest per-screen average on the top 10, while all the films on the top 10 suffered only moderate drops. Meanwhile, Summer Day With Coo is a victim of the case where it beat Maiko Haaaan in the number of admissions, but lost out to it when it comes to dollars and cents because kids tickets cost less.

- It seems like while the success of Hollywood films continue, other foreign films aren’t doing too well in Japan this year. However, I can think of at least 3 Hong Kong films that opened in Japan, not two - Election, Dragon Tiger Gate, and Confession of Pain. On the other hand, that decline of Korean flicks is definitely pretty painful.

- As reported yesterday, May 18 took the weekend at the box office in Korea, but only at 1.3 million admissions, not the 1.4 figure that was previously reported. The Thai horror film Alone dropped to 8th place already, but not before taking over 450,000 admissions down with it, and it seems like Ratatouille performed a little weaker than I thought it would.

- With news stacking up this year about the lack of originality in Chinese pop music (and MTV as well), an angry blogger in China has decided to devote an entire blog exposing pop songs that allegedly are copying others. The blog is here (just click on the song titles to hear the song samples), but it got the Kelly Chan song “No Reservations” wrong. It didn’t copy Britney Spears’ “Boys”, but rather Destiny Child’s “Lose My Breath”. Hell, maybe it copied both songs. Plus, Britney Spears copied herself with Slave 4 U anyway.

- The top box office winner in Thailand right now, and we only report that kind of thing when it’s a standout, is a little crossdressing comedy named Kung Fu Tootsie. You read right. Twitch has more information here.

- Kenichi Matsuyama, the rising young star of Death Note, has signed on to star in the latest film to be directed by Korean-Japanese director Yoichi Sai (who also made Blood and Bones) and written by Ping Pong and Maiko Haaaan scribe Kankuro Kudo. This could be a good follow-up to the upcoming Death Note spinoff L.

- Be careful - if you are caught pirating films in Japan, be prepared to be treated like a Yakuza member.

- The Hong Kong film blog (in Chinese) has updated its release date sidebar - new release dates include Flashpoint for August 9th, Soi Cheang’s Shamo for September 6th, and Triangle for November 1st.

- Under “that director can do that?!” news today, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi has signed up for her third Hou Hsiao-Hsien film, this time set to be a kung-fu film. How the hell is he going to pull off his legendary 10-minute-plus long takes?

- On that note, under “how the hell are they going to pull that off?!” news today, Universal has acquired the rights to remake the Japanese period actioner Shinobi, except writer/director Max Makowski (who last directed Francis Ng in One Last Dance) is planning to move the story to Hong Kong and turning the two ninja clans into rival “multinational security forces” (whatever the hell that is). Why didn’t Universal just say it’s based on Romeo and Juliet and saved themselves a couple of bucks?

- Japanese musical group Pistol Valve managed to put their U.S. debut album onto the billboard charts. Specifically, it made number 15th on the internet album chart. Good for them.

- Get ready for yet another Panasian co-production. But this is a rare one, because it’s from Singapore. Other than that, even the title suggests that it’ll be the same old stuff.

- Following the steps of Wilson Chen and Choi Ji-Woo, Korean actor/singer Ryu Si-Won will join the cast of the upcoming Japanese drama Joshi Deka alongside Yukie Nakama. Apparently, he’ll even be speaking completely in Japan, which is not a surprise since he sings in Japanese anyway.

- Ken Watanabe’s daughter Anna Watanabe is making her acting debut in the previously-mentioned TV remake of Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low. Are there any pictures of her NOT in excessive makeup?

- The Tokyo International Film Festival has a couple of changes, including the addition of a world cinema section and a section dedicated to the portrayal of Tokyo that shows it as more than just another overcrowded city.

The Golden Rock - July 26th, 2007 Edition

- Apparently there are quite a few fans of David Lynch in Japan. His latest Inland Empire, which I honestly think it looks too weird to be my kind of film, opened on two screens in Japan this past weekend. With three shows a day over two days, the film attracted 2031 admissions and grossed 3.24 million yen. Considering one theater seats only 111 and the other seats 232, that’s a pretty good opening. According to Eiga Consultant, people started lining up at the Tokyo cinema 2 hours before the first show and the last show was sold out three hours beforehand. Also, the pamphlet/program had a 40% sales rate. Either that means good-of-mouth or it means people just plain don’t get it. Return business, anyone?

- Inland Empire was released by Kadakawa films in Japan, who also released the remake The Murder of the Inugami Clan, a ton of smaller films, and a bunch of TV shows after ruling the Japanese film world way back then. Now they are planning to do their own “fight fire with fire” strategy by posting their copyrighted material onto Youtube. However, they are also developing a program that would find internet video content that are violating copyright, though I’m not exactly sure whatever that means.

- Hollywood Reporter has more on the hit opening weekend for the Thai horror film Alone at the Korean box office, including the distributor’s strategy to market Thai horror as the next big wave and that J-horror is over. They’re a couple years behind, but hey, whatever works for them.

- Recently, Japan entertainment trend reporting website Oricon polled people on what they thing is the scariest J-horror film. The results aren’t really all that surprising.

- Time for Venice festival news - First, Jason Gray has information on the Japanese selections, both in and out of competition (They even gave an in competition spot to Takeshii Miike. Is this a first for Miike in a major European film festival?). Then you can just go and check out the entire list at Variety, which includes quite a few major Asian films.

- On the other hand, things are definitely not going very well at the Bangkok International Film Festival, where there are more sellers than buyers at the market, films are not well-attended, and one Thai executive even said the money spent should’ve gone straight to the film industry instead. Ouch.

- It’s reviews time! Twitch has a review of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Retribution, a rather long review of the new Korean film May 18th, and a shorter one for Japanese blockbuster Dororo. Then, Variety’s Derek Elley turns in a review for the opener for the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Eternal Hearts.

- The Weinstein Company has snapped up another Asian film that they could potentially ruin, this time one of Vietnam’s biggest films ever.

- Yesterday I reported the misreporting of casting news regarding Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident. Today Hollywood Reporter, whom I consider to be a pretty accurate news reporting organization, reports that China Film Group is onboard as a co-producer, which means you know the good guys and/or the Chinese will again win in the end.

- Apparently Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s latest single, the theme song for his directorial debut Secrets, is suggested to be a breakthrough in style by incorporating British rock influences. Why is this news, especially when he’s done it before already?

 
 
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