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Archive for the ‘United States.’ Category

The Golden Rock - November 4th, 2008 Edition

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

More over at Korea Pop Wars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to real news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - November 3rd, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock - October 19th, 2008 Edition

A quick entry before going off for another film at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival (tonight it’s Kenji Uchida’s After School).

- Judging from Thursday opening day box office numbers in Hong Kong, it’s looking to be a rather quiet weekend when the numbers come out tomorrow. Mirrors, the Hollywood remake of the Korean film Into the Mirror, opened on top with HK$275,000 from 31 screens. The new Wong Jing-produced horror film The Vampire Who Admires Me managed to make HK$202,000 from 27 screens, but it would be a miracle if it even makes it to HK$2 million. The Hollywood thriller Awake made HK$49,000 from 13 screens, and Accuracy of Death made an OK HK$25,000 from just 3 screens. More tomorrow with the weekend numbers.

-Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin has now passed the 200 million yuan mark at the Chinese box office, placing it along the ranks of The Warlords and Red Cliff, except it’s not as good.

- Just before the temporary relaxed regulations for foreign journalists in China during the Olympics was due to expire, the Chinese authorities decided to extend those regulations. However, nothing has changed for domestic journalist, and Chinese nationals are still not allowed to be full-time correspondants for foreign networks.

- First Cuts, the project created by Andy Lau’s Focus Group to find young talents, has announced the first four filmmakers for the second stage of the project, which will now set its sights mainly in the Mainland Chinese market. The first project’s biggest success was Crazy Stone, by Mainland Chinese director Ning Hao. The first project also featured films from Malaysia and Lam Chi-Chung’s I’ll Call You. Too bad Lam followed it with The Luckiest Man.

- The Tokyo Drama Award, part of the International Drama Festival during the Japan CoFesta, has given out its first prizes. The grand prize went to two dramas - drama special Ten to Sen and made-for-cable drama Pandora. Believe it or not, Last Friends, which deals with domestic violence, gender identity crisis, and even incest, won Kids and Youth category.

- Speaking of CoFesta, the event’s major event - The Tokyo International Film Festival  - is underway with John Woo’s Red Cliff as the opening film. Japan’s Daily Yomiuri has a feature on the festival this weekend.

- And speaking of Japanese dramas, The Daily Yomiuri’s Televiews column for this week looks at this season’s newest dramas, all of which are potential contenders for next year’s Tokyo Drama Awards.

- With the Korean film industry experiencing a downturn this year, companies are seeing the chance in filling the screens with films that have been sitting on their shelves instead of investing in new productions.

- This week, Japan Times’ Mark Schilling reviews the indie horror film Peeping Tom (Makiguri no Ana).

- Lastly, Variety finally mentions that Korean pop star BoA is venturing into the American music market.

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 6th, 2008 Edition

Sorry about that little extended break. It’s been kind of a crazy half-week.

- Who didn’t expect Painted Skin (with DONNNNNIIIIEEEE!) to be on the top of the Hong Kong box office anyway? From 37 screens, the fantasy-martial arts hybrid romance made HK$1.03 million from 37 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$4.09 million. HOWEVER, and I didn’t report this for the opening day report because…..well, I fell asleep while writing, HK$350,000 of that money was supposedly from those advance screenings that no one could buy ticket to and no one was staffing at.

Connected had a strong second weekend, making HK$751,000 from 40 screens for a 11-day total of HK$8.83 million. With another public holiday in Hong Kong this week, it’s pretty reasonable to predict that this film will go over the HK$10 milliom mark. The British film The Duchess had a very strong weekend on limited release. On only 7 screens, the historical drama made HK$140,000 on Sunday for a 5-day total of HK$810,000, including preview showings last weekend. On the other hand, the Storm Riders: Clash of Evils flopped badly over the weekend, making just HK$66,000 from 26 screens on Sunday for a 5-day weekend total of HK$400,000. In fact, it’s done so bad that some theaters on the Newport Circuit decided to bring back Forbidden Legend: Sex and Chopsticks for one showing a day, even though Storm Riders was supposed to replace it on the Newport Circuit.

Speaking of Sex and Chopsticks, it’s still playing on 13 screens as of Sunday, when it made HK$33,000. After 17 days, the cat-III softcore porn has made HK$2.9 million. In relative terms, this is a success for the people involved. Eagle Eye isn’t quite performing in HK as well as it is in America, making just HK$422,000 from 39 screens for a 11-day take of HK$5.07 million. However, it has surpassed 20th Century Boys, which took an even bigger dip in its second weekend with just HK$326,000 from 32 screens on Sunday for a 11-day take of HK$5.06 million. It’ll end up just matching Hero’s take late last year instead of matching Death Note’s sensational HK$10 million+ takes, which must be a slight disappointment for the distributor.

Mamma Mia has proven itself to be a long-run hit, making another HK$273,000 from 23 screens on Sunday. It now has a 25-day total of HK$10.76 million. Journey to the Center of the Earth is still in the top 10 as well, making HK$58,000 from 6 screens and has now made HK$34.71 million after 53 days.

-In Japan, Suspect X (The film version of the hit TV drama Galileo) opened on top of the Japanese attendance ranking and is expected to earn as much as this year’s hit TV adaptation Hana Yori Dango, if not to the heights of last year’s Hero. Surprisingly, last week’s winner Iron Man dropped all the way to 6th place in its second week, which may make this the second Hollywood superhero flick to underperform at the Japanese box office after The Dark Knight.

- Meanwhile, the Galileo TV special also did very well in the ratings this past weekend, scoring a 20.8% rating. On the other hand, the Rookies‘ special didn’t do nearly as well, with just a 10.0% rating on the same night.

Source: Dramanews.net

- It’s trailers time! From Twitch is the trailer for The Uninvited, the Hollywood remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. The latter was beautifully shot, well-acted, and all in all a rare elegant horror flick that stood out from the down-and-dirty gore crap. The former doesn’t seem to carry any of that. Also, they have a link to the first teaser for Hollywood’s take on Dragonball, which just hurts to watch.

On the Hong Kong films front, The website for Dante Lam’s latest Beast Stalker, starring Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung, has opened and it features the film’s trailer. It might be a nice little crime thriller…or it might be another Heat Team. At least it looks decent. Also, the trailer for Tsui Hark’s Not All Women Are Bad has hit the net. This, on the other hand, doesn’t look close to decent. Then again, I might’ve been wrong before.

Lastly, Nippon Cinema has the trailer to the parody film Homeless ga Chugakusei, which is a take on the upcoming film adaptation of the autobiographical novel The Homeless Chugakusei. It reportedly features a real homeless man.

- Tsui Hark, who’s giving a master class at the Pusan Film Festival, reportedly says that he accepts the burden of censorship from everywhere, saying that it’s something that has to be done to “get better result”.  Blah.

Meanwhile, the Variety Pusan blog has the first part of everything he said in the class.

- Kaiju Shakedown looks at what celebrities around the world are up to, including Zhang Ziyi’s latest film and Charlie Yeung reminiscing about Leslie Cheung.

- For all you fans out there waiting for the next Evangelion film, wait longer: The latest film is now set to be released in Japan some time in early Summer 2009.

- Variety looks at the numerous film funds out there for Asian filmmakers, including the Weinstein Asian Film Fund, the RGM fund, and even the latest multi-national Irresistable Films Fund for new filmmakers…….except the company retains final cut, “for the filmmakers’ own good,” of course.

- Despite their upcoming indefinite hiatus, Japanese band Southern All Stars is still as prolific as ever: Two of the band members will appear in the 33-part short drama that are based on their songs.

- Major Japanese TV network TBS is suing North American network ABC because its game show Wipeout features an obstacle course that resembles far too much to TBS’ hit shows “Takeshi’s Castle” and “Sasuke”, as well as other hit obstacle game shows from the 90s that have seen a second life as dubbed shows on American cable networks.

The Golden Rock - September 12th, 2008 Edition

- It’s looking like another crowded weekend at the Hong Kong box office this weekend, with at least 4 wide releases. Debuting at the top is the Hollywood musical Mamma Mia, which opened on 34 screens for an opening day take of HK$395,000. This is likely to attract more adult audiences as the holiday weekend rolls around, so it’s looking to do fairly well. In second place is the Thai horror omnibus 4BIA, which made HK$214,000 from 27 screens on opening day. Not opening so well is the Japanese doggie film 10 Promises with My Dog, which made just HK$206,000 from 35 screens. The distributor is likely hoping that it’ll do solid long-term business like A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies did earlier in the year. Rounding out the wide releases is the Simon Yam-produced Ocean Flames, which made only HK$80,000 from 26 screens. Some multiplexes have already panicked and reduced the number of daily showings for over the weekend.

Actually, two major Hong Kong releases were scheduled to come out for the holiday weekend - Jingle Ma’s Butterfly Lovers and Alan Mak/Felix Chong’s Lady Cop and Papa Crook. However, both films were moved to October, with Mei Ah citing that they never officially scheduled the September release date (despite the fact that they ran promotions with the September date in mind), while Mak and co. citing that their film needs further post-production tweaking. Hence, another holiday weekend goes to waste for HK cinema. More when the numbers are out on Tuesday.

- Japan has announced that they will be sending the recent award-winner Departures (or Okuribito) to try for the Best Foreign Film award at the Academy Awards this year.

-It’s reviews time! First, the Daily Yomiuri’s Ikuko Kitagawa has a review of Departures, then Japan Times’ Mark Schilling has the likely first English review for Tetsuya Nakashima’s latest Paco and the Magic Book, and Variety’s Robert Koehler gives his take on Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom, which is included here because Rinko Kikuchi has a supporting role in the film.

- Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective has picked up another award, this time the Audience Award at the 2nd annual Changmuro International Film Festival. Hur Jin Ho’s Happiness also picked up the Discovery Award.

- This year’s big Japanese pop hit Soba Ni Iru Ne just won’t go away, as now it has been recognized by the Guinness World Record as the song with the most cell phone downloads.

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2008 Edition

- Guess who just won the weekend box office in Hong Kong again? For the 4th weekend in a row, Journey to the Center of the Earth takes the top spot, making HK$816,000 from 34 screens on Sunday (again, much of it from the higher-priced 3D showings) for a 25-day total of HK$30.92 million. Brendan Frasier is now the most bankable star in Hong Kong this year, with his two films making a total of HK$68 million and counting in Hong Kong.

This means that the Pang Brothers’ remake of Bangkok Dangerous got bumped down to second place, making almost HK$520,000 from 34 screens for a 4-day weekend total of just HK$1.85 million. The film will likely finish on par with the brothers’ recent efforts at around HK$5-6 million. The other only opener that made it to the top 10 is the horror film The Strangers, which made HK$103,000 from 15 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$390,000.  According to the Hong Kong Film blog, the three Hong Kong-based films - The Luckiest Man, A Decade of Love, and Rule #1 - made 4-day weekend totals of HK$96,000, HK$80,000, and HK$78,000 from 12, 11, and 5 screens, respectively. The award-winning Rule #1 can be said to be the most successful one, because it’s only play on 5 screens, and at least two of those screens only play the film once a day at 11:45pm.

As for holdovers, Rec barely hangs in there for its second weekend, making HK$295,000 from 28 screens on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$4.85 million. Cyborg She is showing surprising legs in its third weekend, still making HK$204,000 from 16 screens for an 18-day total of HK$4.47 million. Not hanging in so well are Hana Yori Dango Final, which made just HK$76,000 from 14 screens (with a reduced amount of a screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.18 million, and Partick Kong’s Forgive and Forget, which made just HK$59,000 from 22 screens (also with reduced amount of screenings) for a 11-day total of HK$1.53 million.

- In Japan cinema attendance chart, 20th Century Boys have come back from behind for a boost to 1st place in its second weekend, with Ponyo taking 2nd place and Hancock dropping all the way to 3rd place. Sex and the City also got a boost up to 5th place, which shows that it’s got staying power, even if it’s only limited to the urban areas. Nim’s Island debuts at 6th place, while Goo Goo the Cat shows that cats are just not as popular as dogs in the cinema with an 8th place debut.

- In an amazing turn of events, the Taiwanese Academy Awards representative Cape No. 7 saw a boost of 77% in box office gross for its second weekend, and has thankfully now surpassed Kung Fu Dunk as the highest-grossing local film in Taiwan.

- That was quick: Some Summer 2008 dramas are already wrapping up their runs, though the drama ratings aren’t getting any better. First, Sono Otoko, Fukushocho ended with a barely above-average 11.9% rating for its last episode and a season average rating of 11.8%. That’s considerably lower than the 13.5% average of the first series. Yottsu no Uso takes an early ending with only 9 episodes, wrapping up with an above-average 9.6% rating for its final episode and a 9.3% season average. The Takashi Sorimachi-starring flop Loto 6 de 3 Oku 2 Senmanen Ateta Otoko ended up with only a 6.4% rating for its final episode and an embarrassing 6.5% season average. It’s about to be the flop of the season, because Koizora has boosted its season average to 6.4% because of a season-high 7.6% rating for this week’s episode.

Tomorrow wrapped up with an OK-14.1% rating final episode for a season average of 12.6%. Right now, it’s looking to be one of the better-performing dramas of the season, behind Taiyou to Umi no Kyoushitsu (14.1% rating for this week’s episode), Yasuko to Kenji (dropping to a 13% this week after a one-week hiatus), and Code Blue (down to a below-average 14.9% rating for its second-to-last episode). Getting close to the end of the season apparently isn’t energizing the ratings battle any, with only Koizora reaching its season high this week.

All drama information can be found at Tokyograph.

- With its screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the beatdown of the Yu Wai Lik’s Hong Kong co-production Plastic City continues. This time, it’s jury member Johnnie To’s turn to do the beating, quoted by Apple Daily: “I think director Yu Wai Lik has yet to finish making the film. Great cinematography cannot make up the film’s whole.”  He also said that he does not agree with the jury’s pick for Best Actor and the Golden Lion, saying that the Turkish film Milk and Russia’s Paper Soldiers should taken those awards, respectively.

Jury president Wim Wenders also lament that there’s a rule set by the festival that the Golden Lion-winning film cannot also win Best Actor, which explains why Mickey Rourke didn’t pick up Best Actor for The Wrestler, despite being the heavy favorite. When the Japanese press asked Wenders why Ponyo didn’t pick up any prizes, Wenders simply said that he lost sleep over Ponyo because he likes the film very much. He also said that in order to prove their love for Ponyo, the jury members will be singing the theme song for the rest of their lives.

Original story by Apple Daily.

- Variety also cover the snubbing of Asian films at this year’s Venice Film Festival.

- As for Plastic City, its sales company has confirmed that they will work with the filmmakers to recut the film after its screenings at Venice and Toronto. The company blames the rushed post-production process for the film’s bad word-of-mouth and urge potential buyers to wait for the new cut.

- In Toronto, Momoru Oshii’s The Sky Crawlers was acquired by Sony for distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand. Strangely, Warner Bros. Japan was a major distributor of the film in its native Japan, although Sony actually acquired the rights directly from the film’s production company.

- Korean director Choi Dong Hoon has gotten a hell of a cast in hopes for a third consecutive hit after The Big Swindle and Tezza: The High Rollers. This time, he’ll bring a historical figure into modern times as a superhero from the past fighting supernatural figures.

- Perhaps not as exciting to some people is the official announcement of Utada Hikaru’s second English album, which is now slated for a seond half 2008 release. Actually, I’m kind of excited. But that’s only because I’m a fan that kind of liked her first English album.

- Some Japanese content makers have decided to embrace the internet video format, uploading their own content either on Youtube, or on their own company’s video site. Of course, I must point out that while GyaO allows foreign users to register, they actually do not allow computers from non-Japanese IP address to view their contents, which, for the lack of a better word, sucks.

- Twitch offers up approximately ten seconds from the upcoming animated film Gatchaman, produced by Hong Kong’s Imagi Studios.

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown reports that after the failed Azn Television in America, the other Asian-American network ImaginAsian is looking at layoffs after a new CEO took over.  This goes to show that mainstream America just doesn’t care.

The Golden Rock - August 25th, 2008 Edition

Woo Hoo! The Olympics are over!

- As always, the first thing we’ll look at is the Hong Kong box office over the weekend by looking at Sunday grosses. Somewhat surprisingly, the Hollywood adventure flick Journey to the Center of the Earth continues its reign at the top of the box office, making HK$1.96 million from 33 screens (a portion of them in 3D and a higher ticket price) on Sunday for a 11-day total of HK$19.22 million. Hellboy II also managed to hang on to its 2nd place spot with HK$392,000 from 37 screens for a 11-day total of HK$5.83 million.

As for opening films, Kwak Jae-Young’s Cyborg She leads the pack with HK$364,000 from 17 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$1.38 million, which is a respectable opening gross for a film on just 17 screens. Not so respectable is the opening for the animated film Star Wars Clone Wars, which made only HK$231,000 from 34 screens on Sunday for a 4-day weekend total of HK$910,000. The two limited releases this weekend - Masayuki Suo’s I Just Didn’t Do It and Todd Hayne’s I’m Not There - failed to make the top 10, which means neither made more than HK$122,000.

In holdover films, The Dark Knight is still at 4th place with HK$292,000 from 31 screens (a portion from the one IMAX screen charging higher ticket price) for a 39-day total of HK$56.1 millionThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor made HK$187,000 from 36 screens for an inexplicable 25-day total of HK$36.93 million. Lastly, Chan Hing-Ka/Janet Chun’s La Lingerie made HK$122,000 from 22 screens for a not-too-bad 17-day total of HK$8.17 million.

- We also have the audience attendence chart for the Japanese box office. For the 6th week in a row, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot. The comic book adaptation Detroit Metal City, starring Kenichi Matsuyama, debuts impressively at 2nd place. Sex and the City didn’t do too shabby, either, with a 3rd place debut. The Mummy 3 falls to fourth place, and Star Wars Clone Wars could muster only a 6th place debut. Box Office Mojo is still slowly updating their numbers, so this will have to do for no.

- Time to look at the flop that is the Summer 2008 Japanese drama season.  The Monday 9pm Fuji drama Taiyou to Umi no Kyochitsu rebounds from the season-low 10.7 rating last week to a more average 14.7% rating this past week. Shibatora, Gakkouja Oshierarenai, Monster Parents, and Code Blue all recovered from season-low ratings the previous week. Even Koizora, the flop of the season, is seeing an upward trend from one episode to the next.

Still, Code Blue is that only drama this season that is averaging above a 15.0 rating, and that’s because of its highly rated premiere episode. Three dramas are scoring 6’s on the average season rating, and most dramas are barely breaking the 10.0 barrier. Then again, the last time a drama broke the 20.0 rating during the summer season was 2005’s Densha Otoko. Nevertheless, with an average of 15.2% so far, Code Blue is the lowest highest-rated series in a long time.

Note: I don’t count NHK’s hit taiga drama Atsuhime because 1) It doesn’t fit into the season format, which means the average rating doesn’t quite apply, and 2) Ratings only matter for private television station, which NHK is not. If counted, Atsuhime is easily the highest-rated drama of the year, scoring above 25% with most episodes.

-Coming off the commercial disappointment of Sky Crawlers, Mamoru Oshii is going back to live-action with short film in the omnibus film Kiru~Kill. He will also oversee the project.

- Being a fan of Paris Je’Taime, I’m very very excited for the producers’ follow-up New York, I Love You, which will feature films from great directors like Shunji Iwai, Fatih Akin, and Park Chan-Wook. Twitch has the film’s first trailer, even though it’s still in post-production and will only be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival as a work-in-progress. That trailer is worth watching just to see Chris Cooper speak Cantonese.

- Johnny’s man group SMAP is making history with a scheduled 6 shows at the enormous Tokyo Dome. That is the most shows a Japanese musical act has performed in a single tour at the baseball stadium.

- With Takashi Miike’s Sukuyaki Western Django heading to US theaters, Ryuganji has posted an interview in English with the prolific director.

- According to Hong Kong press, Johnnie To is not resting ahead of making his English debut film The Red Circle. Instead, he’s spending the hot summer days with Lau Ching Wan making a new film, and according to the Oriental Daily report, Lau will play a kidnapper in his first villain role. With no official quotes or source of information, Oriental Daily may just be making things up with some pictures.

- The minor Japanese medical mystery hit film Team Batista will be adapted for television, though stars Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi will not be going to TV. Instead, Atsushi Ito will be the lead in Takeuchi’s role because it was actually written as a man in the original novel.

The Golden Rock - July 23rd, 2008 Edition

It’s either a really slow news day, or it’s been a long day. Here we go:

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$20.36 million after 13 days.

- Johnnie To/Wai Ka Fai’s Mad Detective opened on one screen in America. With a total of 8 shows over the weekend, the film made only USD$2,682, which means each show only averaged USD$335.25. An average ticket cost from USD$8.50 to USD$11.50, which should tell you how many people went to see it. Even though it’s also playing through video-on-demand, it’s still pretty painful to report that number.

- Cyzo (Thanks to Ryuganji for the link) reveals the top 10 grossing films in Japan for the first half of 2008, which is any film that opened from December 2007 to May 2008.

1) Partners the Movie (Aibou) - 4.4 billion yen
2) I Am Legend - 4.3 billion yen
3) The Golden Compass - 3.5 billion yen
4) Doraemon - 3.37 billion yen
5) A Tale of Mari and the Three Puppies - 3.14 billion yen
6) The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - 3 billion yen
7) Enchanted - 2.9 billion yen
8) National Treasure 2 - 2.6 billion yen
9) Detective Conan - 2.42 billion yen
10) Earth - 2.4 billion yen.

That’s 6 foreign films and 4 Japanese films, only one of which is live-action. Of course, we still have The Magic Hour and Hana Yori Dango to add to that second half 2008 list.

-It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! The Korean boy band TVXQ sets a record for foreign artists with their third #1 single (and probably another record for the longest song title ever). Yui Aragaki’s first single makes a 2nd place debut (surprising, considering this is how she sings). Kimaguren knocks GReeeN!!! off the top spot at the album chart with their latest album.

More at Tokyograph

- After Japan named its favorite robotic cat as its animated ambassador, Korea has unleashed their own robot as a “goodwill delegate” for refugees.

- After Dragonball, 20th Century Fox is apparently in the process of turning another Japanese animation into a live-action film.

- In the continuing series of ridiculous product lines for pachinko machines (refer to my Japan reports), director Hiroyuki Nakano has remade Kurosawa’s Seven Samurais for a pachinko machine. It even co-stars Sonny Chiba and featuring a soundtrack of Rolling Stone songs.  I have to say, Paint it Black sounds pretty good with samurai on horses.

- Last Friends villain Ryo Nishikido has found his next drama role, this time presumably the good guy with Johnny’s mate Kazunari Ninomiya for an adaptation of another popular novel.

- Ryuhei Kitamura has announced that he will be remaking his classic film Versus for America and that it will be “insane”, which means more of the same with better makeup?

- Not liking Ponyo is like wanting to hurt little puppies, and it looks like there are plenty of people who will want to hurt little puppies.

The Golden Rock - July 22nd, 2008 Edition

- Japanese cinema attendance figures are in. As expected, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea takes the top spot, with the latest Pokemon movie right behind. As a result, everything gets bumped down by two places, except for One Million Yen Girl, which managed to debut at 10th place. I’d say more when the numbers come out, but I have no idea when that will be.

Jason Gray does have the 3-day holiday weekend numbers for Ponyo. With 1.57 billion yen, the take is actually 96.6% of Spirited Away’s 3-day holiday weekend take. And anyone who wants to rain on Ghibli’s parade should know that Ponyo’s admission was actually 101.6% of Spirited Away’s opening weekend, although that’s also attributed to the larger screen count.

-  Meanwhile, Korean box office figures are also in. As I reported several times already, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird opened huge and is now the third biggest Korean film debut in history (why, oh, why couldn’t it beat D-War?!). Also, now Song Kang Ho is in two of the top three biggest openings in Korean film history as well.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- It’s Japanese drama ratings time. The Spring 2008 drama season has officially wrapped up. As mentioned before, CHANGE managed a huge finale rating of 27.4% for a season average of 21.7%. Meanwhile, Fuji’s Saturday 11pm drama Hachi-One Diver wrapped with just an 8.3% rating, averaging an 8.4% rating for the season. This is the lowest-rated drama at that time slot since Fuji began it a year ago.  The only show left is Rookies, which will wrap this Saturday with a 2-hour episode, even though TBS initially announced that they were not going by a typical season schedule for it.

Most of the Summer 2008 season dramas have started, with Gakkou ja Oshierarenai premiering last week with a 9.9% rating. Meanwhile, Monster Parents has rebounded to a 13% for its 3rd episode, Seigi no Mikata dropped slightly to a 10.1%, Maou continues to drop with a 9.2% for its third episode, Tomorrow also drops slightly to a 13.5%, and detective drama Shibatora also drops slightly to a 12.2%

Code Blue stayed the course with a 16% rating for the second week in a row, Yasuko to Kenji actually saw an increase to 13.1% for its second episode, and the well-received Yottsu no Uso saw a small drop to 10.6%.

How Much Money has Red Cliff Made in Hong Kong?

According to now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$19.71 million after 12 days. 20 million, here we come!

Variety reports that despite the impact  other major summer films had on Red Cliff’s second weekend around Asia, it has now made USD$45 million, which means the two films combined should earn the investors most of their money back.

- Kou Shibasaki and Masaharu Fukuyama will be teaming up again in the studio for their second music collaboration, this time for the film version of their hit drama Galileo.  I hope it’s better than their first song together.

- Don Brown over at Ryuganji reviews the action film Chameleon, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara.

-  With the movie business losing money, Korean film companies are turning to the stage, turning films into musicals in the new musical boom of Korea.

- Tomoworo Taguchi will be making his second Jun Miura adaptation, and Lily Franky shows that he has the acting bug with his second starring role after All Around Us.

-Ryuganji also looks more at Satoshi Miki’s latest, although both videos embedded on the site have been taken down already.

- Disney has acquired their first Bollywood film for North American release, even though it will go straight to video.

- A theater in Beijing has become the first in the world using a laser projector. The technology has not been installed in theaters in American and other countries because of safety regulations, which explain why China managed to take the first step.

- In a further proof to show that Smap is everywhere in Japanese pop culture, the boy band will be singing the theme song for one major network’s Olympic coverage. One of the members will also be a caster for that channel’s coverage for the third Olympic in a row.

 
 
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