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Archive for the ‘Thailand’ Category

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 - 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 14th, 2008 Edition

Sorry for the extended break. Here’s a weekend edition to tie you over.

- 7 movies were released yesterday in Hong Kong for a very crowded box office charts - two wide releases (over 20 screens), and five limited releases. The best performer is Tsui Siu-Ming’s “everyone-stunning” martial arts epic Champions, which ironically did not get first place. Instead, it made a somewhat surprising HK$425,000 from 36 screens (surprising because everyone I talked to was wondering why I even bothered), and is looking to top HK$2 million over the weekend, behind Quantum of Solace.

Even more surprising is the 3D horror film Scar, which opened only on eight screens, but made HK$393,000 on opening day. Worth noting is that ticket prices are almost doubled because of the 3D format, but the opening remains impressive for a limited release.

The Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading, which got just about no promotion before its opening, opened on 20 screens with HK$156,000. The American indie film Bella opened on 8 screens and made an OK HK$70,000. It’ll likely get a boost from the adult audience over the weekend. On the other hand, no boost can help the dance film Make it Happen, which made just HK$27,800 from 17 screens. The distributor should’ve probably gotten a clue when it got sent straight to DVD in America. Lastly, Death Defying Acts opened on 4 screens and made HK$25,000.

Takashi Miike’s Crows Zero quietly opened on one screen, and naturally did not make it to the top 10. More on Monday when the numbers are out.

- Wong Jing was all over Hong Kong’s newspapers today. China’s Affluence Pictures, which Wong owns 10% of and was previously called the Wong Jing Film Workshop, lost a lawsuit over My Kung Fu Sweetheart because the company released the film’s VCD in China only seven days after the theatrical release, as opposed to the 15 stated in their contract with the investors.

- It’s trailers time! First up is Sion Sono’s seemingly whacked out “pure love” epic Love Exposure. I’m not just calling it whacked because of what’s in the trailer, but also because the movie runs a crazy 237 minutes. It’s even a selling point in the trailer!

Next is the first trailer for John Woo’s Red Cliff Part II, which I hope will be two and a half hours of money shots after Part I nicely set up the stakes (though the film itself is somewhat underwhelming). The release date is now set on January 15th, 2009 in Hong Kong, which means it’ll go up against Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea and Vincent Kuk’s All’s Well That Ends Well 2009. It’s going to be an interesting Lunar New Year.

Lastly, Youtube has the full trailer for Ryoichi Kimizuka’s Nobody to Watch Over Me, which won the Best Screenplay Award at the Montreal World Film Festival. This movie is also worth noting because Kimizuka is the man who penned the Bayside Shakedown TV drama, its two ultra-hit films, and the one underwhelming spin-off.

- After several high-profile PR blunders, the Chinese Ministry of Culture announces that it will punish artists who lip-sync to replace singing at public events. One of these high-profile blunders was the use of a cuter young girl at the Olympic opening ceremony when an unnamed senior government official deemed the original singer “too ugly”.

- Meanwhile, a different Chinese government department, the State Authority of Radio, Film, and Television, took Hong Kong’s Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook and cut over 10 minutes out of it after a certain section of the film feature gangsters getting out of Mainland China unharmed and unarrested. Because you know, there are no gangsters in China. The oft-delayed film will now open in Hong Kong on January 1st, on the same day as Chen Kaige’s Forever Enthralled. No word which version of the film will be shown in Hong Kong.

- In Thailand, audiences will be able to celebrate Christmas with Tony Jaa, as the troubled Ong Bak 2 is almost completed and set to be released in Thailand on December 5th. After Japanese and American distributors pulled their distribution deals in light of the production troubles, it’s now time for producers to go on heavy-duty damage control.

The Golden Rock - October 8th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

More at Tokyograph

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

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

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

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

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

OK, bring on the Tokyo CoFesta!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - October 1st, 2008 Edition

- Mamma Mia finally took the top spot at the Korean box office, bumping The Divine Weapon down two places. Meanwhile, Jeon Do Yeon’s latest My Dear Enemy at 5th place, although it’s already considerably better than the director’s previous work, since it was only on TV.

More from Korea Pop Wars

- In China, where Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin actually did open, it made 15.2 million RMB over the weekend. That’s even better than the opening for The Warlords last year. With the National Day holiday coming, the film is expected to make a ton of cash by the end of the weekend.

Also, today’s Oriental Daily reports that Benny Chan’s Connected is expected to reach the 20 million RMB mark by the end of the holidays.

- Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Film Blog goes back to the one theater in Hong Kong that’s supposedly playing Painted Skin. The blogger notices that the earliest show on Monday morning was at 10:45 am (Which was sold out, apparently), though the first shows for the other films don’t start until after 11:30am. So he went to the cinema to take a look, and finds that there are not even any staff working at the theater yet, let alone audiences to fill the seats.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! SMAP has now become the second Japanese “vocal group” (read: boy band) to sell more than 10 million albums, thanks to the number 1 debut of their latest. Meanwhile, Exile scores a big debut week with their latest single.

More over at Tokyograph

- Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal has a bunch of reviews of films he saw at the Bangkok International Film Festival. In addition, he also wrote an extended review of the four-hour documentary Citizen Juling.

- The parent company of Hong Kong film distributor Media Asia is apparently in so much financial trouble that they may not be releasing any more films this year. This may apply to Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook, which was supposed to be released in September and was postponed indefinitely for “post-production work”.

- Japan Times has a feature on animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, as well as a short history of his Studio Ghibli.

- Poor NHK just can’t get a break for their once-popular morning drama timeslot. Their previous morning drama Hitomi wrapped with a dismal 15.2% average, which is the worst rating ever for an NHK morning drama. Meanwhile, their latest morning drama (starring the stars of one of the highest rating morning dramas in recent years) premiered with only a 16.8% rating, which is the 3rd worst-rated premiere episode in history. Ouch.

- The 2nd Asian Pacific Screen Awards have announced their nominees, with Johnnie To’s Sparrow leading the pack with four nominations. Tokyo Sonata, The Good, The Bad, and the Weird, and The Chaser were also recognized with nominations. The Sparrow is the only Hong Kong representative that received nominations.

- The artist formally known as Sonny Chiba has been appointed as a guest professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. He will be teaching film acting, which will also include lessons on sword fighting. Sounds only like the most awesome film school class ever.

- Since Variety simply has way too many reports from the Pusan International Film Festival, I’ll just link you to the main page with all the reports. Enjoy.

The Golden Rock - September 29th, 2008 Edition

- Several major releases helped boost the Hong Kong box office this weekend. Benny Chan’s Connected tops the box office with HK$1.08 million from 42 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$3.61 million, pretty much guaranteeing that it’ll pass the HK$10 million mark. Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys is at 2nd place with HK$729,000 from 32 screens (including an inflated ticket price to compensate for its long running time) on Sunday and a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.48 million. I think HK$6 million is a pretty reasonable goal for final gross. The Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye is at 3rd place with HK$651,000 from 39 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.26 million.

Disaster Movie continues its disastrous run, with just HK$144,000 from 21 screens for a 4-day total of HK$530,000. Meanwhile, the excellent Korean thriller The Chaser also flops in its limited release, making only HK$28,000 from 5 screens on Sunday, but no weekend total was available from the Hong Kong Film Blog.

Amazingly, the softcore porn flick Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is still doing relatively well, making HK$177,000 from 16 screens for an impressive 10-day total of HK$2.48 million. I believe it still hasn’t had one day where the per-screen average was lower than HK$10,000, which is pretty amazing for a film of this type. Mamma Mia edges closer to HK$10 million, taking in HK$342,000 from 24 screens for an 18-day total of HK$9.28 million. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan somewhat holds up in its second weekend, making HK$313,000 from 30 screens for an 11-day total of HK$4.81 million. For those still following, Thai horror film 4BIA made HK$50,000 from 8 screens, and has now made HK$4.03 million after 18 days. The Muai Thai action flick Chocolate earned a similar gross back in April, except this one didn’t have the crazy stunts to pull audiences in.

According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (and I have no idea what the blogger’s source is), even the bogus one-week run of Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin made some money, despite the fact that no one could buy ticket to it. On that one screen playing “five shows” on Sunday, the supernatural period film reportedly made HK$15,435, which averages only a 60% capacity for each show. So why does the theater report that the film is sold out? Did anyone actually manage to get into a showing of this?

-At the Japanese box office this weekend, Iron Man topped the audience attendence chart, bumping Wanted to 2nd place after its one week at the top. Paco and the Magical Book stays up at 3rd place, while Departures is the success story with its hold at 4th place. The high-concept film Ikigami could only get a 6th place opening, while the Richard Gere romance flick Nights in Rodanthe could only earn an 8th place day-and-date opening. This is another blow to Warner Bros. after The Dark Knight underperformed at the Japanese box office last month.

- All the primetime private network dramas have wrapped up for the Summer 2008 season in Japan. Here are the top 5 shows, based on season average:

1) Code Blue - 15.6% average
2) Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu - 14.5% average
3) Yasuko to Kenji - 13.0% average
4) Tomorrow - 12.6% average
5) Shibatora - 12.5% average

Note: Wataru Seken wa Oni Bakari is not counted because its season actually started in Spring, hence this season is simply a continuation. In fact, it’s not even over yet.

All drama synosis can be found at Tokyograph.

- Under “film festivals in Asia” news today, the Bangkok International Film Festival has given its top prize to the Colombian film PVC-1. Meanwhile, the Filipino film Serbis won the top prize in the Southeast Asian film section. While the festival was well-attended (it actually doesn’t end until tomorrow with the premiere of Mourning Forest director Naomi Kawase’s latest), their first attempt at an entertainment market wasn’t. Better luck next year.

Meanwhile, Variety’s Derek Elley writes about surviving North Korea’s Pyongyong Film Festival, despite the sensitive North Korean government and its strict rules toward foreign journalists.

- Akira Kurosawa’s classic film The Seven Samurai is going to the stage, and this is the man that will play the Toshio Mifune role. Apparently, since it’s based on an anime that’s based on the film, I guess it’s OK.

- Variety’s Joe Leydon has a review of the documentary The Real Shaolin, which follows four martial arts student who travel to the real Shaolin temple in China to learn kung-fu.

The Golden Rock - September 28th, 2008 Edition

I don’t try to pretend that I know everything about every Asian country’s film industry. One of the industries that I don’t know so much about is Thailand’s, which is why I’ve added a new blog to the blogroll to fill the void. Wisekwai’s Thai Film Journal is an oft-updated blog that has excellent information about that Thai film industry that often doesn’t get reported here, mostly because of a lack of knowledge on my part. This is one of resources that I will be linking more to the future, but for the most comprehensive English-language resources on the Thai film industry, this is a blog worth checking out daily.

- Five films entered Hong Kong box office charts on Thursday opening day, with four of them major wide releases. Connected, director Benny Chan’s Hong Kong remake of the Hollywood film Cellular, opened on top with HK$546,000 from 40 screens, and should easily pass the HK$3 million mark by the end of the weekend. Depending on word-of-mouth, the action thriller should end up with over HK$10 million, and may even have a chance at matching Invisible Target’s HK$13 million+ take. It’ll make all its money back in China anyway.

The Japanese comic adaptation 20th Century Boys opened on 32 screens with less showings because of its 142-minute running (but saw a ticket price inflation to make up for it. It ended up making HK$371,000, and saw a lower per-screen average than Connected. It might hit the HK$2 million mark by the end of the weekend, and it definitely won’t do as well as the Death Note films, which were also produced by NTV in Japan. Hollywood thriller Eagle Eye didn’t do that well, either, with only HK$360,000 from 38 screens on opening day.

Quite appropriately named is The Disaster Movie. With a gross of HK$90,000 from 21 screens, the result is no less than a disaster. Not doing so well either is the Korean blockbuster thriller The Chaser, which made just HK$16,000 from 5 screens on opening day. More on Monday when the weekend numbers are out.

- The Chinese film industry continues to expand this year, with Chinese films’ grosses for the first eight months of the year up 31% from the same time period last year. The shocker: Kung Fu Dunk is one of the three films that make up 40% of the total gross for local films. I guess word-of-mouth doesn’t have as big of an effect as one might think.

- Under “Bangkok International Film Festival” news today, Wise Kwai looks at the festival so far, including why head juror Eric Khoo had to leave the festival early. Meanwhile, Brian over at Asian Cinema - While on the Road has short reviews of the films he’s seen so far.

- Also, Taiwan’s Golden Horse Festival has just unveiled two new non-competition sections, which will bring high-profile films such as Clint Eastwood’s latest Changeling and Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It to the festival in November. If time allows, The Golden Rock will once again live-blog the awards as it’s playing on TV come December 6th.

- It’s reviews time! Japan Time’s Mark Schilling gives a rave for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, which I’ll be watching at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. On the other hand, The Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa doesn’t seem to like “the pregnant 11-year old movie” Kodomo no Kodomo so much.

- Grady Hendrix at Kaiju Shakedown rounds up all the wacky happenings in the world of Asian cinema this week.

- EEG has finally jumped on damage control over the delay of Derek Yee’s The Shinjuku Incident, which is said to feature Jackie Chan in his first purely dramatic role. The film was supposed to be released this month, but rumors have been going around that China’s censorship authority is keeping the film in limbo, resulting in its delay. Instead, EEG says that it’s still in post-production and won’t be ready until the first quarter of 2009. I expect them to push this out for Lunar New Year, a popular time slot for Jackie Chan films. At least in Hong Kong.

- Chinese 5th Generation director Tian Zhuangzhuang slightly bored me with his last film The Go Master. Now, he’s upping the good-looking people factor for the guys by casting Maggie Q for his new period action film. Didn’t he learn anything from watching Three Kingdoms?

- Nippon Cinema is back with the full-length trailer for Swing Girls director Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest film Happy Flight. I trust the actual film to be better than the trailer.

This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at long-running reality shows departing the airwaves on Japanese TV.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog (who got their information from today’s Oriental Daily - not always the most trustworthy source of news), Emperor Motion Pictures may be asking Louis Koo, Barbie Hsu, and director Benny Chan to reunite for a romantic comedy after the success of Connected. Maybe she’ll be less annoying in a romantic comedy lead than as a damsel in distress.

The Golden Rock - September 24th, 2008 Edition

- Let’s first do a quick catch-up of Hong Kong box office numbers. Among the opening films, Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan leads the pack (must be a first for an Adam Sandler film in Hong Kong), making HK$3.38 million from 31 screens after 6 days. Surprisingly, Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks is doing surprisingly well, making HK$1.49 million from 20 screens after 5 days. That means on average, the film surpassed the HK$10,000 average everyday since it opened. Bottle Shock is all the way down there with just HK$120,000 from 4 screens after 6 days.

As for other films, Mamma Mia is at HK$7.99 million after 13 days, 4BIA is at HK$3.68 million after 13 days, and still on 26 screens. 10 Promises With My Dog has made HK$3.4 million after 13 days, which is only half of what A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies made half a year ago.

- It’s Jpaanese Oricon charts time! Yet another compilation has arrived to bump Ayumi Hamasaki’s latest compilation off the #1 spot on the albums chart. This time, it’s B’z second compilation album of the year, selling a phenomenal 400,000+ copies in its first week.

On the singles chart, boy group V6’s latest debut on top, while Angela Aki’s latest debuts at 3rd place.

More at Tokyograph

- It’s trailers time! All of them are from Twitch today. First it’s the trailer for the Japanese comedy GS Wonderland, about the 60s boom of the so-called “Group Sound”. Then it’s the trailer for Shinya Tsukamoto’s Nightmare Detective 2, and I have no idea what the hell is going on in it either. Lastly, it’s the second trailer for the Korean romantic comedy My Wife Got Married, starring Son Ye Jin, who still looks fake when she’s trying to do the sexy thing.

- Under “directors taking on new projects” news today, Voice of a Murderer and You Are My Sunshine director Park Jin Pyo is directing from his own script for Flower Man, about a man with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and a woman funeral home director. The more surprising news today is producer/ex-convict Haruki Kadokawa taking on his first directing job in eleven years for the thriller The Laughing Cop. Kadokawa has had a string of flops lately as producer for God’s Puzzle, Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea, and even the Tsubaki Sanjuro remake didn’t do nearly as well as hoped. And of course, he mentioned prison again at the press conference.

- According to the Hong Kong Film Blog, the producers of the Hong Kong-China produced fantasy flick Painted Skin are trying to pull a fast one on the Academy Award committee after being picked as Hong Kong’s representative for Best Foreign Film. The rules stipulates that for a film to qualify at the awards, it must play for at least 7 days in the home region before October 1st. However, all the ads around the city say that the film doesn’t open until October 2nd. The blog did some investigation, and found that one theater has a listing on the newspaper saying that it is showing the film, but instead of stating the showtimes, it only says “5 shows a day”. The theater’s website doesn’t even have such a listing.

When the blogger showed up to the theaters, the showtimes list actually has Painted Skin’s showtimes on it, but the blogger couldn’t even buy a ticket for it, with the staff saying that the film doesn’t open until the 2nd. Also, the theater’s showtimes listing for the following two days also have Painted Skin on it, but simply lists the film as “sold-out”. Essentially, what’s happening here is the producers have somehow found a loophole and simply put up a guise that the film is undergoing a qualifing run without actually letting people see the film.

Again, the original blog post in Chinese

- Japan’s NTV will be using 33 songs by legendary pop band Southern All Stars as the basis for a series of short 10-minute dramas, with the broadcasting date and format yet to be confirmed. Most of these ideas just sound really bad at first, and yet the networks somehow pull it off. I hope that’ll be the case here. Still, they must be running out of ideas if they need to use 33 songs.

- Director Junji Sakamoto, whose child-prostitution film Children of the Dark was barred from screening at the Bangkok International Film Festival a few days ago, held a press conference on the festival’s opening day to protest the festival’s decision.

- Under “foreign distribution” news today, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata has been picked up for North American distribution, and is set to open in 2009. I’m not holding my breath, though. Meanwhile, the American remake of the Korean romantic comedy classic My Sassy Girl will be getting a theatrical release in Korea in late October. The film went direct-to-DVD even in its native America.

- Mika Nakashima is taking on a rare TV drama role this coming season. I hope she won’t just be playing another variation of Nana.

- The American-financed animated film Astro Boy, worth noting here because it’s being produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios, now has a release of October 23rd….That’s October 23rd, 2009.

The Golden Rock - September 21st, 2008 Edition

Since I took the weekend off, this is an extra-packed edition of The Golden Rock

- The big news this weekend is the announcement of the new Green Hornet movie. Sony Pictures, who co-produced Kung Fu Hustle and CJ7, has signed Stephen Chow to star in the film along with Seth Rogen. He will also make his English-language directorial debut with the film, which now has a release date of June 25th, 2010. Supposedly, this will come after Chow finishes up Kung Fu Hustle 2, a news that just came out of nowhere for this blogger.

- Back to the usual box office news. The critically acclaimed Japanese drama Departures opened last weekend at 5th place in the attendance charts, but both the positive reviews and holiday weekend opening date helped it scored a surprisingly high opening. On 220 screens, the dramedy made 348 million yen over the 3-day weekend. Even though the distributor expected it to appeal to an older audience, the demographic was wider than expected. With the surprising opening, Shochiku has now adjusted their expected gross of 2 billion yen to 3 billion yen.

-Despite the usual netizen complaints, The Mummy 3 has now passed the 100 million yuan mark at the Chinese box office after only 2 weeks. Of course, Variety points out that it’s still no Red Cliff.

- It’s reviews time! From Japan Times’ Mark Schilling is the review for the controversial and potentially disturbing Kodomo no Kodomo. Fortunately he says it’s not all that disturbing. From the Daily Yomiuri’s Christph Mark is a review for Takeshi Kitano’s Achilles and the Tortoise.

- CNN recently compiled a list of the best Asian films, which not only included classics such as Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru and King Hu’s  A Touch of Zen, but also recent films such as The Host, In the Mood for Love, and (somewhat head-scratching) Infernal Affairs.

- Under “Asian film festivals” news today, the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival has announced its extensive list of 75 films, which will include the Taiwanese hit Cape no.7, Koki Mitani’s The Magic Hour, the omnibus film Tokyo!, Herman Yau’s True Women for Sale, and Ivy Ho’s Clustrophobia. Needless to say, I’m going to quite a few of them.

As previously mentioned, the Tokyo International Film Festival also announced its lineup. In addition to closing film Wall-E, it will also feature Clustrophobia (Asian premiere) and 3 other premieres. Astonishingly, the programmers also decided to include the Korean commercial blockbuster/cheesy nightmare D-War in the lineup as well.

With only a few days to go, organizers at the Bangkok International Film Festival decided to pull Junji Sakamoto’s Children of the Dark from its lineup after sponsors argued the film “does not fit in Thai society”, even though it was a co-production between a Japanese and a Thai production company.

- This week’s Televiews column on the Daily Yomiuri looks at the latest NHK daily morning drama. The timeslot has been going through a gradual descent in the ratings, and NHK has brought back the stars of the highest-rated morning drama in the last 11 years in a hope for a repeat.

-  Han Cinema has a feature on award-winning actress Jeon Do Yeon, whose first post-Cannes film was released in Korean theatres over the weekend.

- Shiina Ringo (or her record company) just keep on celebrating her 10th year with EMI: A set of her remastered albums, as well as extra goodies, will be released in November after releasing a set of B-sides and concert DVD earlier in the year. My wallet is already screaming out in pain.

-  The Daily Yomiuri has a feature on Japanese singer-lyricist-composer Suga Shikao, whose new album was recently released.

- Lastly, we are sad to announce the sudden death of Japanese director Jun Ichkawa, who was the first director to take on Haruki Murakami for the big screen with Tony Takitani. He was 59.

 
 
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