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Archive for the ‘United States.’ Category

The Golden Rock - July 17th, 2008 Edition

How much money has Red Cliff made in Hong Kong?

According to now.com, Red Cliff has made HK$14.67 million after 7 days.

- The results for the Nikkan Sport Drama Grand Prix for the Spring 2008 season has been announced, and CHANGE barely beat Last Friends to win the Best Drama prize, although the drama hadn’t ended when the voting began. Kimura Takuya also took home Best Actor, beating Rookie’s Ryuta Sato. Around 40’s Yuki Amami won Best Actress, and Last Friends didn’t go home empty-handed, thanks to supporting acting awards for Ryu Nishikido and Juri Ueno.

- In addition to 1949, John Woo will be revealing another upcoming project at the upcoming ComicCon in the United States, a comic adaptation about King Arthur and his knights as gunslingers in the 19th century Pacific Northwest.

- Twitch reveals that there’s a possibility of a Jewel in the Palace film to be directed by none other than Zhang Yimou.

- As usual, Disney will be bringing over Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea to America, and this time Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy will be responsible for putting the American version together.

- An advanced screening has already been held for Ping Pong director Fumihiko Sori’s Ichi, starring young actress Haruka Ayase (currently selling Panasonic SD cards on Japanese trains) as the famous blind swordswoman character. Nippon Cinema reveals the character has actually undergone some major changes, including her occupation.

- Johnnie To has signed up as a jury member under president Wim Wenders at the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

- Twitch has an interview with famous Japanese animation director Satoshi Kon.

- With Japan going into full digital bradcasting in 3 years, a government authority is trying to crack down on the amount of infomercials shown on these digital channels.

The Golden Rock - July 16th, 2008 Edition

Today we’re starting a new feature called “How much money is Red Cliff making in Hong Kong?” Why, you ask? Because we’re into fanning the hype around here.

According to Now.com, as of Tuesday, July 15th, John Woo’s Red Cliff has made:

HK$13.52 million after 6 days

In comparison, the dance-unintentional-howler Kung Fu Hip Hop (also the only other Chinese-language film playing in Hong Kong right now. No, I don’t count Kung Fu Panda) has made HK$80,000 after 6 days, and already lost 4 of its 13 screens on Monday.

- Time to report on what we really do here at Lovehkfilm. Boss Kozo has three reviews, including mega-super-duper moneymaker Red Cliff, Yoji Yamada’s Kabei - Our Mother, and the Western film Children of Huang Shi, which co-stars Chow Yun Fat in a supporting role. Yours truly turns in reviews of the wrestling comedy Gachi Boy - Wrestling with a Memory and the independent award-winning comedy Bare-Assed Japan.

Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Bennett also turns in a review for the Singaporean film The Photograph.

- As reported before, John Woo’s Red Cliff topped the Korean box office. It’s scored the highest opening ever for a Chinese film, and distributor Showbox (who cut the film by 9 minutes) is aiming at 3 million admissions. However, that depends on how The Good, The Bad, and The Weird will do next week.

More from Korea Pop Wars.

Meanwhile, The Good, the Bad, and the Weird has sold its American rights to IFC, who will be rolling the film out in a limited release early next year. No word on whether this will be the Korean cut or the cut that Kim said will include more references to classic Western flicks.  If i live in America, this would be exciting news indeed.

- For some reason, Box Office Mojo isn’t updating their Japanese box office numbers, which means I’m left in the cold for the second weekend in a row for number crunching. Thankfully, Mr. Texas over at Eiga Consultant is reporting the opening weekend gross for Gegege no Kitaro 2. Even though the last film went up against Spiderman 3 in its second weekend, the first film also opened a week before Golden Week, which boosted the film’s second weekend take, and it’s a luxury that the sequel didn’t get. The yokai fantasy film made 230 million yen from 313 screens, and it’s only 73% of the first film’s opening.  Mr. Texas contributes the comparatively lower opening to its seemingly darker tone, though I doubt that there’s an audience conflict with Hana Yori Dango (except for young WaT fans?).

Meanwhile, Ryuganji looks at the relative success of the Japanese newsroom drama Climber’s High, which is aiming for a 1.5-2 billion yen, and is a much-needed hit for all involved.

To no one’s surprise, major Japanese distributor Toho takes the top spot as the top Japanese studio for the first half of 2008, with 13 films passing the 1 billion yen mark.

- Gaga should also be slightly relieved that Climber’s High will probably make its money back, because they wouldn’t have to add it to the approximately USD$18.8 million losses they are forecasting from content alone.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! Girl trio group Perfume gets their first #1 single, which is also the first #1 single for a technopop track. Meanwhile, Thelma Aoyama’s follow-up single to her mega-hit Soba ni Iru yo could garner only a 6th place debut. As for the album chart, Orange Range’s latest debuts as expected at first place, while the week’s only other new entry debuts all the way down at 9th place.

More at Tokyograph

- The Kimura Takuya drama CHANGE managed to gain one victory at the end of the Spring 2008 season. While it did not beat Gokusen for the top-rated drama of the season, it got the highest rating for any single episode all season with a 27.4% rating, and it even reached as high as 31.2% during its second half. Reportedly, the finale included a 22-minute speech by Kimutaku the Prime Minister, which sounds like a pretty ballsy move for a TV drama, and will likely be the most long-winded monologue ever recorded in a Japanese TV drama, and there are tons of those.

-  Universal is breathing a sigh of relief now, as The Mummy 3 has been officially cleared by Chinese censors after changes that, according to producer Bill Kong, were supposed “so minor that they scarcely amounted to a cut”, hinting that it may’ve simply cut some shots to make it suitable for all audiences. The film is expected to be released in China after the Olympics to increase its commercial potential.

- Hong Kong broadcaster TVB has signed a deal with Walt Disney to stream some of Disney’s American content on the TVB website free of charge 12 hours after their television broadcast in Hong Kong. Such shows may also include dramas from the Disney-owned ABC network such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. This, however, is not likely to prevent people from downloading shows within hours of their broadcast in America.

Ryuganji has more on director Akira Ogata’s first film since the 80s, which will begin shooting this month.

- (via Twitch) The Star Malaysia talks to John Woo about Red Cliff, in which he admits that he modeled some of his past action heroes after Three Kingdoms character Zhao Zilong.

-  Kaiju Shakedown reveals that when not making his “shit, piss, fart” comedies, Wong Jing actually produces some quality films. One of them is Ann Hui’s latest The Way We Are.

- A Japanese novel about a kid who bikes to search for his long-lost mother is coming to the big screen.

- Meanwhile, chalk one up for China, as a Chinese author has become the first winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize that is not a native speaker of Japanese.  The Akutagawa Prize is the top literary prize in Japan.

The Golden Rock - July 12th, 2008 Edition

- It’s reviews time yet again, as Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee has sent in her review of John Woo’s Red Cliff.

- Shiina Ringo has written Japanese band Tokio’s latest single, which will be used for the theme song of a drama this season.  Again, reporting this because I’m a fan.

- Hey, celebrity dancing shows and idol contest, the Chinese government says you can come back now because we’re all done with our collective, state-mandated mourning! They also say you should all be positive because the Olympics are coming!

- This week’s Teleview columns on the Daily Yomiuri looks at I Survived a Japanese Game Show and also some of the dramas this season.

- Instead of Youtube, Japanese public broadcaster NHK will be uploading their content onto video site Joost. I assume that the NHK fee men will not be coming up to your door and ask for subscription fees.

- Finally there’s a trailer for Ryu Seung Wan’s Dachimawa Lee that actually shows something from the movie. Looks like a fun period action romp from here.

- Heads up for those in Hong Kong that the summer edition of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, aka Summer Pops, has revealed their program. Sadly, most of the films either were simply films that pulled from the festival in March or films that already have release set in Hong Kong. I’ll still go, though.

The Golden Rock - July 3rd, 2008 Edition

Heading off to Tokyo one last time tomorrow, and heading back to Hong Kong on Sunday, so this will probably be the last entry until Monday.

- Japan’s Emobile has pulled their latest ad, which features their mascot, a monkey, at the podium of a crowded rally for change, which is meant to resemble the Barack Obama campaign. Of course, Americans believe that they’re the center of the world and think that the Japanese actually know about way to insult an African American, one of which is to compare them to monkeys. If Americans are that culturally sensitive, there wouldn’t Rush Hour movies, Kung Fu Panda, and I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Then again, if Japanese are that culturally sensitive, one of the comedians on a variety show wouldn’t have called Bobby Ologun “Jero” and “Billy” (as in Billy Blank).

- According to Apple Daily, Stephen Chow is teaming up with a Taiwanese film company to bring back Journey to the West (which he explored in the Chinese Odyssey films). According to the Hong Kong Film blog, Chow wanted to take the monk role, but was pressured by the financiers to take on the Monkey King role once more. The way the blog spins this story is that Chow is suffering from the critical bashing from CJ7 because he appeased the Mainland censors too much, and now needs to dig back out old material to please his audience and his financiers again. No word on whether he’ll be directing or just acting like he did with the previous films.

- Kaiju Shakedown clears up that the so-called Warlords DVD from yesterday’s post is not the Jet Li-Andy Lau-Peter Chan Warlords.

- Twitch has a 5-minute-plus promo clip from Mamoru Oshii’s Sky Crawlers.

They also have that 9-minute promo clip for John Woo’s Red Cliff that was shown at Cannes. The Oriental Daily asked stars what they thought of the film at the premiere, and they apparently all liked it. Then again, what with saying the trouble one can get in from saying the wrong thing and this being Oriental Daily, take it with a grain of salt.

- Yesterday I reported that Taiwan may lift their ban of Mainland performers, and now Chinese broadcasting organization Phoenix Broadcasting has applied again for landing rights on the island after Mainland media was banned from the island in 2005.

- Jason Gray points out that the official website for Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata has been updated with a classy new trailer. The trailer is also on Youtube if you want a slightly larger version.

- Variety’s Derek Elley has a review of Help, which is being touted as China’s first all-out horror film.

See you all back from Hong Kong on Monday.

The Golden Rock - June 26th, 2008 Edition

Not a lot of news today:

- The Indian comglomerate Reliance’s investment for Hollywood studio Dreamworks has not been finalized yet, and may even just be used for the studio head as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with other studios. In other words, India is in Hollywood just yet.

- Another Japanese comic is being adapted for live-action film, although the idea sounds pretty interesting this time: a boy who washes the windows of apartments in an orbital ring around Saturn after Earth becomes uninhabitable.

- It’s reviews time! Variety’s Leslie Felperin has the first review for Christopher Doyle’s second directorial effort Warsaw Dark. Also, Variety’s Andrew Barker has a review of the documentary Hannari Geisha Modern.

- The hit Korean film The Host will have a sequel. However, instead of having Bong Joon-Ho direct again, the sequel will be a Chinese-Korean co-production with Crazy Stone director Ning Hao as director.  Also, being a Chinese co-production, the film will naturally be eliminated of the original film’s political content.

- Japanese boy band KAT-TUN member Tatsuya Ueda will have to prove that he actually has talent by not only directing his own 90-minute solo show, but he will also have to write and compose all the songs to be performed in the concert.

- Twitch has an interview with Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura.

- Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry said in a forum in Hong Kong that Japanese cinema should work more with its neighbors in Asia such as Hong Kong and China. It would be a good start if they make more original works instead of TV drama adaptation first, then actually put English subtitles on their DVDs.

- Han Cinema has the final trailer for Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Holy. Shit.

The Golden Rock - June 24th, 2008 Edition

Catching up on weekend number crunching:

- Time for Japanese box office. As expected, Paramount included last week’s sneak preview numbers to boost their opening weekend figures for Indiana Jones. After deducting the 597 million yen figure reported by Eiga Consultant last week, the actual opening weekend number is actually roughly USD$7,890,000, or 847 million yen from 789 screens. Meanwhile, The Magic Hour continues to do well, losing only 12% of business and now passed the 2 billion yen mark. Aibou continues to have similar holding power, losing only 13.7% of business and is now past the 4 billion yen mark at the box office. In fact, nothing on the top 10 dropped by more than 26% at the box office this weekend, making for quite a healthy weekend in Japan.

In the battle of the two family-friendly films, the music-themed August Rush did much better with a 3rd place debut, thanks to the shameless advertisement, which literally asks potential audience to “please cry”. The other film, the Japanese-language The Witch of the West is Dead, debut all the way down at 6th place, and was actually on less screens to begin with.

- Finally some good news from Korean cinema, as The Public Enemy Returns rocketed to the top of South Korean box office with 1.6 million, outdoing Hollywood challengers Get Smart and 21.

More at Korea Pop Wars

- Despite some nonsensical complaints against it, Hollywood’s Kung Fu Panda reached the earthquake-strickened Sichuan Prefecture in China and is expected to do quite well. In fact, it already made about 10 million RMB this past weekend. The fact that the performance artist who complained against the film includes panda images in his work just says so much about his motives anyway.

- It’s Japanese TV drama ratings time! As previously mentioned, this season’s bona-fide hit Last Friends scored a season-high 22.8% rating for its last episode, after a tough start at the beginning of the season. The much talked-about drama has cliched a third-place finish with an average rating of 17.7%. That leaves Gokusen and CHANGE fighting out for first and second place. With Gokusen’s ratings still hovering below 20% this week (a slight rebound to 18.1%, actually), CHANGE may have a chance as it nears its climax these several weeks. Right now, Gokusen has an average of 22.5% (mostly likely to go up with its finale this week), and CHANGE has an average of 21.2%, which means CHANGE is still within reachable distance to a ratings victory this season.

In other ending dramas, Muri Na Renai rebounded with a 7.7% for its final episode, the third season of Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Gakari ends with a season-high 15.4%, Around 40 ends with a 15.1%, and Hokaben ends with an 8.9%. More next week, when many of the remaining dramas wrap up.

- Good news for Hins Cheung, and depressing news for Hong Kong music, as Hin Cheung’s first compilation album became the best-selling album in Hong Kong for the first half of 2008 with only 50,000 copies sold. In fact, the top selling Hong Kong albums are either concerts (Andy Lau, Eason Chan), compilations (Joey Yung, Hins Cheung), or cover albums (Alan Tam). The only original album on the chart is Taiwanese artist Joanna Wang’s debut album, which sold a measly 20,000 copies. This proves the problem in Hong Kong that illegal downloading is so prevalent that an artist’s popularity far precedes their sales figures. Just think: Denise Ho sold out all 7 of her concerts in 2006-2007, which adds up to over 70,000 people. However, her compilation sold only 20,000 copies so far.

Here’s the translated list of the top 10 best-selling albums in Hong Kong from January to May 2008, from this picture on Hong Kong’s Ming Pao:

Hins Cheung’s my 1st Best Collection
Andy Lau’s Wonderful World concert
Eason Chan’s Moving On Stage 1 concert
Love 07 compilation
Joey Yung’s Like Joey compilation
Beyond’s 25th Anniversary compilation
Alan Tam’s The Best Sound Ever Reborn
This is Classical Music compilation
Joanna Wang’s Start From Here
Denise Ho’s Goo Music Collection

-  (via Ryuganji)Ghibli World has a write-up on the latest trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s latest Ponyo On a Cliff By the Sea, (that’s the official title on the poster), though it followed Ghibli’s policy of providing no video content for the internet. I saw the trailer yesterday, and it looks like a return to simplicity for the master.

- Just as Japan is finished being swept up by promotional wave for The Magic Hour, TBS is now filling their screen with Hana Yori Dango all day just ahead of the film version’s opening this Saturday. After their major promotional event at the Budokan, now it’s a one-hour special on TV just before opening day.

- Despite Japan’s aggressive policy to push people to get into digital broadcasting (the previously-mentioned “analog” screen text will begin next month), a survey reveals that only about 43% of all Japanese TV-watching households are digital-ready.

- The Chinese government has enacted a law requiring all media to give the government’s emergency response efforts free publicity, part of a larger law that requires more efficient emergency reporting during large-scale disasters.

- What kind of TV actually otdoes Japan is doing low-brow reality shows? America’s ABC, for actually putting the words “holy sushi” in the ad for a xenophoblic show like “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”.

- Twitch has an interview with director Ryo Iwamatsu, whose latest film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival.

- After the surprise success of Dai Nipponjin, comedian/director/actor Hitoshi Matsumoto is reportedly already polishing the script for his follow-up film, while a possible sequel for Dai Nipponjin is also being discussed.

The Golden Rock - June 23rd, 2008 Edition

- While the Hollywood blockbusters took over the weekend at the Hong Kong box office, the big story is the impressive performance for Johnnie To’s Sparrow. With no real box office draw (Trust me, Simon Yam is not a considered a box office draw by himself in Hong Kong), the film saw a boost over the weekend with the adult audience, making HK$800,000 from 31 screens for a 4-day weekend total of HK$2.82 million. This already nearly matches the box office total for PTU, To’s last film with such an extended shoot. As for the Hollywood films, Narnia made HK$1.01 million from 47 screens for an 18-day total of HK$22.07 million, which means it has now surpassed Iron Man and is aiming to match Indiana Jones‘ HK$26 million take in Hong Kong. At second place is The Incredible Hulk, with HK$852,000 from 33 screens for a 11-day total of HK$9.96 million. Business is proving to be a little slow, though that could be because of its relatively low screen count.

Hollywood parody flick Superhero Movie is doing much better than Meet the Spartans, with HK$582,000 from 21 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$2.11 million. As for limited releases, 21 did very well with its 2-screen release, making HK$64,000 for a 4-day total of HK$190,000. However, the Lawrence Lau co-directed film City Without Baseball did even worse over the weekend, with only HK$36,000 from 8 screens on Sunday for a 4-day total of HK$170,000. Similarly painful is Tsui Hark’s Missing, with only HK$74,000 from 15 screens and a 11-day total of HK$1.17 million. However, it supposedly managed to make nearly 10 million RMB over its opening weekend in China, making it a psuedo-hit (I emphasize psuedo because the budget is surely higher than that.).

- Still waiting for the relevant numbers from Japan and Korea. Meanwhile, Koki Mitani is still working hard to pimp his hit film The Magic Hour, which has now made 2 billion yen and attracted 1.6 million admissions, by running around 5 different theaters to do meet-and-greet sessions at 8 different shows over a course of 24 hours over the weekend (the last show being a 1:20 am show). Hong Kong film should promote themselves like that.

- A Russian film took the top prize at the Shanghai Internatonal Film Festival, while a local film took home the Jury Grand Prix and Best Actor. Taiwanese director Leste Chen also managed to win the Most Creative Award with the pitch for his latest film.

Also, Chinese director Wang Chao also managed to get enough funding to start shooting his next film at the same marketplace during the SIFF.

- Meanwhile, the New York Asian Film Festival has kicked off, with Hollywood Reporter giving it coverage for its first day. You can also keep up with the festival happenings from the Subway Cinema news blog.

- The Death Note films have won the DVD Data award in the Japanese films category. The hit comic-based films sold 260,000 copies as a set, making it the 10th best-selling DVD of 2007. Similar sales are expected for spin-off film L, coming out this week in Japan.

-  Last week, I included a link to the latest trailer for the animated version Storm Riders, and now the Hollywood Reporter reports that the film is complete and is set for a 200-screen release next month. 200 screens seem a little small, though, even for an animated film.

- The Japanese comic Kodomo no Kodomo is being brought to live-action from the director of last year’s Shindo. I saw a short teaser for this when I went to watch Yasukuni and have to say I was already a little disturbed. Now I’m even more disturbed to know that they actually did a series of comics with this story.  The Japanese name translate to “A Child’s Child”. Obviously, this isn’t a major studio-funded film.

The Golden Rock - June 19th, 2008

- New Lovehkfilm reviews are up. First from Boss Kozo is the Tsui Hark flop Missing, the Japanese comedy In the Pool, and the Vietnamese action film The Rebel. Then from yours truly are reviews of the Japanese comedy Fine, Totally Fine, the Japanese arthouse horror flick The Wall Man, and the Korean comedy Radio Dayz.

- It’s Japanese Oricon charts time! As expected, Glay’s latest single debuts at the top of the chart, just beating Koda Kumi’s first post-scandal single. Worth noting is the 7th place debut of DOZHI-T’s single, which is slowly creeping into Japanese media and is likely to have long-term legs like “Soba Ni Iru Yo” earlier this year. Meanwhile Kyosuke Himuro’s 20th anniversary compilation tops a quiet album chart, with Asian Kung-Fu Generation managing a 2nd place debut, and Coldplay all the way down at 5th place.

More at Tokyograph

- Mainly for record keeping, when Paramount wants to use the figure to boost their opening weekend box office: the latest Indiana Jones film had a weekend-long preview screenings in Japan on an astounding 772 screens, which include both subbed and dubbed versions. Over two days, it made a very impressive 597 million yen, which should tell you what kind of competition other films are coming up againist. Despite not opening day-and-date with the rest of the world, it’s looking at becoming the first 10 billion yen-grossing film of the year.

- An Indian entertainment conglomerate is looking to invest USD$500 million into Hollywood studio Dreamworks, which would allow the company to leave its current deal with Paramount Pictures and back to working at being an independent studio once more. This is especially important in terms of Asian entertainment news because while there have been quite a few Asia-Hollywood co-productions, this is the first time an Asian entertainment company is investing such a heavy amount of money into a major Hollywood studio.

- Kung Fu Panda had its Chinese premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival, who decided to not allow the public in at the last minute. Attendees reportedly said liked the film and said it represented Chinese values.

Of course, there are always party poopers who want to ruin things for everyone else, although I can see why they’d be pissed about a Hollywood studio making money off two of Chinese culture’s biggest stereotypes.

- Grady Hendix over at Kaiju Shakedown also show how the Chinese media are trying to keep a nation of restricted media receivers entertained. As I mentioned on the random thoughts bar, Kelly Chan’s wedding announcement ended up in the middle of the Hong Kong news page, because I’m sure everyone in Hong Kong cares about the star of The Empress and the Warriors getting married.

-As expected, entertainment spending in the Asia-Pacfic region is currently growing the fastest, which means major markets such as Hollywood will likely continue try and break into the market in the coming years.

- Hollywood Reporter’s Maggie Lee turns in a review of Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, the Bad, and the Weird, which is now easily my most anticipated film of the year. Yes, more so than Red Cliff.

- From Nippon Cinema is a write-up of the upcoming Gegege no Kitaro sequel, along with the latest trailer. I wouldn’t be so trusting of that trailer, though: The first film was advertised as a serious supernatural adventure as well, but it turned out to be a kids film.

- Indonesia, in a move to boost the local advetising industry, is banning all foreign-made advertisements and commercials. One foreign professional must be accompanied by three local staffs.

- Well-known Japanese novel Shayo, which was released post-World War II and examined the need for a social change in Japan at the time, is being adapted into a feature film. The question is how timely and how much of the novel’s social change environment will be retained.

- Kaiju Shakedown also looks at Asian movies going to North America, including Eye Infinity, which is actually a title closer to the Pang Bros.’ preference, since they called the third installment of the film The Eye 10 for similar purpose. Of course, then Lionsgate went all oriental but putting the Chinese characters for eye on the DVD cover, although the film’s Chinese name doesn’t have the word  “eye” in it.

- Lastly, Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada has her own way to remind everyone in Japan to tune in for the finale of the hit drama Last Friends tonight on Japanese TV. Utada sings the theme song, which you can hear pretty much everywhere these days.

(note: it’s a parody of the drama’s poster)

The Golden Rock - June 13th, 2008 Edition

I’m going away for the weekend, so this is either a compressed weekend entry, or I may be able to cram in one more on Sunday night.

- The Japanese government, with their aggressive policy towards the coming switch to total digital broadcasting, will provide poor households with digital TV tuners so they can continue watching TV after July, 2011. Hey, I’m too poor to buy a digital TV, too, but I’m in no rush if it just means 3 more TVB channels.

- I can’t say that I’m well-versed in American 80s culture, but I know enough to ask who the hell asked for this?

- The Thai film ratings system, which is completely pointless in the fact that the government can still cut films, is being delayed for a few months as details are still being worked out.

- I expected Japan Times’ Mark Schilling to give a review for Gururi no Koto after two interviews for the filmmaker and the lead actor was on the Japan Times yesterday. But instead, he turns in a review for Takashi Miike’s flop God’s Puzzle. Even Japanese multiplexes are quickly reducing the number of showings after only a week.

- A Chinese internet music distributor is taking their lawsuit against search engine Baidu all the way to an American court, as their first lawsuit is still pending in China. A search engine that allows users to find illegally uploaded music, Baidu has been the target of attacks from the music industry. However, a 2006 case brought by Western companies lost, while this distributor’s lawsuit has been in limbo for almost a year.

- A Malaysia film production company is making their first big venture into Hollywood with Deadline, a low-budget thriller about a screenwriter in an abandoned house.

- Meanwhile, a Japanese talent agency is expanding into film production by taking over everything from production to distribution for a new film. Talent agencies have a huge role in Asian entertainment, and can be a well-known label (even to the general public) that helps a aspiring idol to stardom. Think Johnny’s in Japan (though their artists are scattered in different record labels), EEG or Gold Label in Hong Kong, and SM in Korea.

The Moscow International Film Festival will be giving Takeshi Kitano a Lifetime Achievement Award in its latest edition. Cool.

The Golden Rock - June 12th, 2008 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
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