Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Golden Rock - May 30th, 2007 Edition

- Seems like there's a bit of a catfight going on in Hollywood about box office records. Buena Vista/Disney claimed that they scored the highest 6-day global box office opening ever with the latest Pirates movie, beating Spiderman 3. However, Sony has come back out saying that Disney actually opened the film in Italy and France on Tuesday, which makes their count a 7-day gross. Ah, nothing like a Hollywood pissing contest.

And with the media, sometimes you just don't know who and what to believe.

- A small midweek report for the Hong Kong box office. Looks like Pirates failed to reach Spiderman 3's pace with a 6-day total of "only" HK$23.55 million, including Tuesday's gross of HK$1.75 million on 111 screens. I'm making it sound bad, but this is actually still a really spectacular opening.

- The Goal trilogy was supposed to follow a soccer prodigy, from his humble beginnings in Los Angeles, to playing for a major European team, then ending with him playing in the World Cup. So far, the first film failed to break even in worldwide box office, and the second film is following the same path, but the third film is still listed as being in pre-production. According to Eiga Consultant, the second film opened in Japan this past weekend with 49 million yen, or just 38% of the first film's opening. Furthermore, this is distributor Toshiba Entertainment's last release before its merger with another company on June 1st. Will Goal 2 simply go away this weekend? Will Goal 3 even make it to Japan?

- Time for Oricon rankings. This week on the singles chart, we have V6 debuting on top easily with only 68000 copies sold. It also marks the group's 5th consecutive single to debut at number 1. The Otaku crew managed to almost beat the teenage idol-chasing girls, buying up 65000 copies of a single with the words "Sailor Suit" in its title and a few animated high school girls on the cover. The mini-soundtrack for the film Shaberedomo Shaberedomo, featuring the new song by pop duo Yuzu, makes 4th place with almost 40,000 copies sold. Next week may be a little more exciting with new singles by L'arc~en~ciel and Aiko.

Things are also a little more lively on the albums chart, where Mariya Takeuchi's latest album Denim debuts at number 1 with 220,000 copies sold. Not sure if it's a good thing or not, but this debut makes her the oldest female artist to have an album debut at number 1 at 52 years and 2 months old. Beanie K's latest album, which can be seen on the Hongkie Town blog as being promoted quite widely at Shibuya crossing, made 3rd place with 46,000 copies sold. Also, GAM, the girl duo made up of two Hello Project! members, only sold 17,000 copies of their debut album, despite trying to lure male fans with their lesbian-friendly single Melodies (don't worry, it's not the Song of the Day. WARNING: Features lesbian kiss and very bad dancing).

Next week, we may also see ZARD albums making a comeback on the charts following the death of singer Izumi Sakai.

- Japanese drama Liar Game, which has been doing gradually better in the ratings, as well as the satisfaction scores in most age groups, has gotten Fuji TV so excited that they're going to expand the finale to a three-hour special. Most drama finales are only expanded by 15 minutes.

- According to this report in Hong Kong's Ming Pao, Fox has locked down its cast for the Cantonese version of The Simpsons Movie (there's a picture in the report where you can see the actor with the character he/she is voicing). Lyricists/radio host Wyman Wong will play Homer, Josie Ho will play Marge, Denise "HOCC" Ho will play Bart, and pop singer Ivana Wong will play Lisa. According to Denise Ho, the selection process is so tough that she actually auditioned for two female characters and got rejected before she landed the Bart role.

If anyone is curious, there were some reports from the test screenings that happened, and it's sounding pretty good.

- Trailers! Twitch has some trailer goodies for us today.

First, the full-length trailer for Wilson Yip's Flash Point, which seems to be a prequel to SPL, since Donnie Yen is reprising his character from it, at least according to the sypnosis on the website. If you haven't seen SPL, I probably shouldn't reveal anymore. Anyway, the trailer isn't as exciting as the teaser that's been online for a while, but it does show more martial arts than gunplay this time around.

Also, there's a trailer for the John Woo-produced gangster film Blood Brothers by Alexi Tan. Todd seems real excited, but how is it inspired by the era in John Woo's Bullet in the Head when one takes place in 30s Shanghai, and the other in late-60s Vietnam? Well, the trailer looks real pretty anyway.

On the Hong Kong Broadway Cinema website has the trailer for "Mr. Cinema," which I introduced before as "Call me Left." Directed by Samson Chiu and starring Anthony Wong as the title character, "Mr. Cinema" tells the story of a theater projector (at an old-school cinema that's still up and running in my home turf Kwun Tong) and his family over the course of 40 years. WARNING: trailer features Anthony Wong trying to sing.

- John Woo is now attached to yet another movie. Now filming The Battle of Red Cliff, which finally got underway after being attached to several Hollywood films, Woo has signed on to direct and produce "Ninja Gold" for Fox Atomic. Why does he still do this kind of stuff when he could simply stay in Hong Kong and be treated like royalty (though I think he left Hong Kong because he didn't get treated like royalty)?

- Doraemon, or known as "Ding Dong" when I was growing up, is my favorite comic ever. Even though I own every issue that was translated into Hong Kong's Chinese version under the title "Ding Dong" (It was later reprinted under "Do la A Mong," which follows the Japanese title Doraemon), the comic never reached an ending because the creator Fujio F. Fujiko passed away. Over the years, there have been speculations of how the story ended, including one that showed Doraemon was a figment of protagonist Nobita's imagination (which would've really pissed me off). The one I liked was Doraemon's battery runs out and is revived by the adult Nobita, who becomes a scientist to revive his robot cat friend. Turns out that ending was just drawn by a 37-year-old man who drew up this "final episode" and sold it at Akihabara bookstores and the internet. Now he has come out to apologize for the copyright violation and has paid royalties to the copyright holders. So it's official: There IS no ending to Doraemon. That should put the rumors to rest.

- Speaking of paying up, did you know if you live in Japan, you're required to pay every month just to watch public television station NHK? It's not a subscription service - it's illegal to not pay it, since they assume everyone watches it. They literally came to my dorm room asking me for money when I lived in Japan. About two years ago, there were several scandals involving producers pocketing production money, which gave some people an excuse to not pay the fee (me, I just canceled my bank account and left the country without telling them). Since then, NHK has actually brought the worst fee-skipper to court, and now they finally see an increase in people paying up for the first time in years.

- Those who watch this year's hit series "Heroes" may be pleasantly surprised at this: Turns out the ancient samurai the show keeps referring to is the one and only Miyamoto Musashi, possibly the most famous samurai in Japanese history. With the very last scene of the first season seeing time-traveling hero Hiro ending up in 1671 Japan, it should be interesting to see how the show will interpret Japanese history.

- The cast of the latest film by Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls/Shimotsuma Monogatari, Memories of Matsuko) "Pako and the Magical Book" has been revealed, and it has a hell of a supporting cast.

- Hoga News talks about possible casting choices for Martin Scorsese's "Silence," which Scorsese recently confirmed will shoot partly in Japan.

- This month, I reviewed the 1986 film Hwang Jin-Yi, which was recently released on DVD because of the upcoming new telling of the story. Unlike the 1986 film, the 2007 film is based on a successful North Korean novel that tells a fictional account of Hwang's life, filled with .a love triangle and battle scenes. Too bad critics are not treating it very kindly.

- I'm missing it by half a month, but that doesn't mean you should: Hong Kong electronic pop group Pixel Toy (under Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming's People Mountain People Sea record label) is holding a concert in July.

- Lastly, Screengrab has a hilarious deleted scene from Terminator 3 that would explain an awful lot.

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