Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 30th, 2007 Edition

- I guess I should start off and tell you that there's a new review/observation post at the spin-off about Maiko Haaaan!!! and Beauty and the 7 Beasts. I can give you a preview and say that Beauty and the 7 Beasts is the worse HK mainstream movie I've seen this year...and I saw Contract Lover.

- It's reviews time! Twitch has a review of India's best foreign film Academy Award contender Eklavya, and Japan Times' Mark Schilling has a review of the Japanese indie film Baum Kuchen, which is currently playing at one Tokyo theater for one show a night.

- Stephen Chow's A Hope has finally locked a release date of January 31st, 2008, although I'm not sure if that opening date also applies to Hong Kong. As for the alien, Chow reportedly told Oriental Daily that the design is a homage to Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not a rip-off. You can probably only use the word "homage" for films more than 20 years old.

- While Stephen Chow takes three years to make his follow-up to Kung Fu Hustle, Takashi Miike is already releasing his third theatrical release of the year. More information from Twitch and Ryuganji.

- Under "Korean actress casting" news today, Gianna Jun (the artist formerly known as Jeon "My Sassy Girl" Ji-Hyun) is done with her first non-Korean film Blood the Last Vampire and back in Korea for the mid-budget comedy drama The Guy Who Was Once Superman. Meanwhile, Cannes best actress winner Jeon Do-Yeon has already decided on her next film, A Fine Day by director Lee Yoon-Ki (who last made the quiet gem Ad-Lib Night.) Guess which one I'm looking forward to more.

- Satoshi Kon's Paprika picked up the Theatrical Film Award at the 12th annual Animation Kobe Award.

- Also, Wayne Wang's A Thousand Years of Good Prayer picked up the prizes for best film and best actor at the San Sebastian Film Festival. If you remember, Wang admitted that a Chinese investor pulled out of the film because the director refused to take out a line that was critical of the Chinese communist government.

- With it crashing and burning in Chinese theaters, the distributor for Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises is trying hard to boost business for the weeklong public holiday period.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 29th, 2007 Edition

Today is like the TV edition of the The Golden Rock:

- Variety Asia has a feature on the state of Asian TV - Japan wants you to know that they are actually exporting more than they seem to, Korea is hoping that people will keep watching their dramas even if they don't watch their movies, Hong Kong's legally-obligated-to-be-there TV network is hoping to find enough stuff to fill four new networks at the end of the year, and Chinese TV should be lucky that they can find something the government approves of.

- Speaking of TV, Japan national broadcaster NHK, which charges pretty much every Japanese household a mandatory fee, saw its latest business plans rejected by the government because they're making too much money. Making too much money means they are charging too much.

- Courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth, Danwei raises a few points over the dubious banning of the Chinese crime reenactment show Red Question Mark, which feature reenactments of crimes committed by women. After running for 3 years, the show was banned because it was "vulgar." That would be the reason to ban most of American TV.

- In India, possibly racially derogatory comments made by a radio host about the winner of the talent show Indian Idol led to an angry demonstration which injured 60 people and forced police to impose a curfew in the area. Man, Clay Aiken fans just aren't as crazy as ought to be these days.

- On a personal note of interest, one of my favorite directors Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film There Will Be Blood was the surprise closing film of the Fantastic Fest, and the enthusiastic word-of-mouth are pouring in, first from the Hollywood Reporter, then from Twitch's Peter Martin. I'm extremely excited to see this, but I know I probably won't get to for a long long long time. Instead, I'll probably go watch another Pang Brothers movie or something.

By the way, look for a new post or two at the spin-off this weekend.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/28/07

- I would've been surprised if you told me six months about that Ang Lee's Lust, Caution will be the Chinese blockbuster of the year in Hong Kong, but Tony Leung's scrotum seems to do wonders in certain circles. On Thursday opening day, which is misleading because no films "opened," Lust, Caution made HK$1.16 million from 62 screens, which has got to be a record for a category III film. If the reports from Edko are correct, the film took an amazing HK$3.01 million on the Wednesday public holiday alone, and a pretty damn good 2.5 day-total of HK$4.88 million. But will it make the targeted HK$15-18 million by the end of the weekend?

What about the other holiday films, you ask? Oxide Pang's The Detective officially opened on Thursday, but was in theaters for 2 days before that as "previews." Minus the HK$220,000 from 28 screens on Thursday, the Aaron Kwok-starring thriller made roughly HK$900,000 over 2 days and a total of HK$1.18 million so far. It should have a pretty solid weekend, but I doubt it'll go anywhere near HK$10 million.

Forget about Wong Jing's Beauty and the Seven, really, forget about it, the movie is shit. Box office-wise, it's doing better than The Nanny Diaries and Stardust, but it's still pretty shitty. On 25 screens, the ensemble comedy made HK$180,000, and has earned a 2.5-day total of just HK$660,000. Honestly, who did they expect to pay to watch Eric Tsang and Nat Chan go up against each other again? Oh, wait, I paid....

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 28th, 2007 Edition

- First comes the news that any blogger who cares about Japanese films is blogging about - the reveal of the FilmEx lineup. First a general report from Variety Asia, then Ryuganji reveals the Japanese selections, and Jason Gray has a comprehensive report. As much as I liked Eye in the Sky (good execution for two-thirds, then a contrived ending), it probably doesn't stand much of a chance. The festival will run from November 17th to the 25th.

- Apparently Seven Swords wasn't enough for him. After Missing, which is supposed to have something to do with a ring underwater, Tsui Hark will be working on what is being called his "comeback film." The 13 Regiments will apparently group 13 stars together - including Simon Yam, Donnie Yen, and Nicholas Tse - and have them going around the world to recover Chinese relics scattered during "the war." When the hell was Tsui Hark ever gone? He still has Triangle coming out, and he's already working on one film before going on to this one.

- In a continuing crackdown of the media following that ridiculous mandate regarding talent shows, the Chinese government has shut down 1,466 ads that may contain offensive materials such as scantily-dressed women or sexually suggestive language. They even censored ads for underwears. Everyone wears underwears, people. Even communists.

- One director trying to fight against that is Chinese-American director Wayne Wang. According to him, a Chinese investor pulled out because Wang refused to cut a line in his latest film A Thousand Year of Prayers that says "Communism is good. It just fell into the wrong hands." Any film that criticizes the Chinese government is of course a no-no, so the investor was forced to back out, taking away half the film's budget.

- Forbidden Kingdom, the film that both its superstars Jet Li and Jackie Chan are calling "not very good," is done shooting and taking its post-production to South Korea.

- For those who has seen the Hong Kong action flick Invisible Target, do you remember the blonde guy who's involved in two of the chase scenes in the first hour? I know, I don't remember much about him either, but apparently he's going to Hollywood. Are they really paying him "seven digits"? It's probably in yen, right?

- After the moderate success of TMNT, Hong Kong-based Imagi Animation Studio will team up with the Weinstein Company and Warner Bros. again for two more projects, the Japanese comic adaptations Gatchaman and Astro Boy. This should put Hong Kong computer animation on the map. This means Centro better get on its ass and make something better than The Magic Gourd. Still...American studios producing an adaptation of Astro Boy just doesn't sound very promising to me anyway.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/28/07

- the Tuesday numbers came out for Ang Lee's Lust, Caution in Hong Kong, but I'll leave the reporting to tomorrow when the Thursday numbers come out just to see how well it did on the holiday. Just for record, the Tuesday night showings earned HK$710,000 from 42 screens, which I'm almost sure may be a record for a category III film (at least for screen counts).

- In China, The Sun Always Rises may have opened at second place, but it only made US$598,023 from what is reported as a 600-screen release. That means each screen made less than US$1,000, and it comes with not very good word-of-mouth. However, that can't really be helped, considering that an arthouse release would mean that the film would definitely not make back its US$10 million budget...not that it'll do so at this point either.

Looking at the charts, it's surprising that teen horror film Naraka 19 is actually close to making what Contract Lover did. Not that either of these films were very popular in Hong Kong anyway.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 26th, 2007 Edition

- As we usually do on Wednesdays, let's look at the Oricon charts. As expected, Ayumi Hamasaki's latest topped the singles chart in its first week, selling just over 70,000 copies. However, that actually seems pretty spectacular when its closest competition, the latest from boy group Dong Bang Shin Ki, only had to sell 33,000 copies to get to second place. Looking further down, You Hitoto's latest could only muster a 10th place debut after selling just over 12,800 copies of her latest. Expect the charts to be extremely quiet next week, with Ayumi Hamasaki winning the chart for a second week in a row.

Things were a little better on the albums chart, where Angela Aki's second album topped the charts with 88,000 copies sold. Young enka star Kiyoshi Hikawa's latest album is far behind at second place with almost 42,000 copies sold for his latest album. Leah Dizon's debut album is already all the way to 24th place from 9th place last week, and expect things to be very quiet here as well next week when Angela Aki will probably lead the chart again.

- Hero, the Japanese drama whose film version is filling seats at movie theaters these days, remains a hit on TV. It's not a new TV special, but a new cut of the TV special Fuji TV aired this past weekend. While it didn't hit the original rating of 30.9 from last year, a 22% rating is still pretty damn good, considering how weak TV ratings have been overall these days.

- India decided to pick the commercial flop Eklavya: The Royal Guard to compete with films around the world for one of those final five spots in the Academy Award for best foreign film. Theoretically, it needs to be better than Laagan, the last Indian Oscar nominee in that category. Will a guy named Eklavya beat the 4-hour cricket drama?

- After actor Masahiko Tsugawa had a decent small hit with the comedy Nezu no Ban, he's moving on to an adaptation of the historical novel Jirocho Sangokushi, which actually inspired 13 films between 1952 and 1965.

- Today is Japanese commercial day at The Golden Rock.

First, we present the latest Softbank ad featuring Brad Pitt. In case you don't know, this series of ads for the mobile phone service provider feature a Hollywood star walking down a street talking on their cool Softbank phone (for example, here's one with Cameron Diaz, who's in at least 3 of these things). This ad is no different, except this one is directed by Wong Kar-Wai. According to Apple Daily, the shooting of the "long take" (the cutting point is the pole, in case you don't notice) took 3 days and 200 extras.

Second, Japan Probe brings us an ad for a Nagano newspaper by animation Makoto Shinkai, who scored a minor hit with his latest 5 Centimeters per Second. The animation is quite stunning, considering the plot is damn near non-existent.

Lastly, Japan Probe also has all 10 commercials Hollywood actor Tommy Lee Jones starred in for a brand of Japanese coffee. They are very very funny stuff, especially number 6.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/26/07

The Japanese box office numbers came out, and as it is always the case with family films, Miss Potter got dropped one place from the admissions ranking when the numbers came out because family films attract more people that buy cheaper tickets. So Naoko Ogigami's Megane got bumped up to 6th place, beating the British film by a mere 592,000 yen in ticket sales. But it did open on just 72 screens, and Eiga Consultant reports that the film is breaking records and selling out on its Tokyo screens, so its debut is actually quite impressive.

While it's the second holiday weekend in a row, the gross for most films were actually quite significant, with every film in the top 10 losing at least 30% of their business from the previous weekend. Even Harry Potter's hopes of reaching that 10 billion yen mark doesn't look too good right now.

- It was a public holiday today in Hong Kong, so no way of knowing how the Tuesday night shows were for the competing films. We'll know more on Friday night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 25th, 2007 Edition.

- The numbers for the Japanese weekend box office doesn't come out until tomorrow, so we'll just going a bit into audience admission rankings for now. For the third weekend in a row, the drama adaptation Hero starring Kimura Takuya lead the rankings, keeping newcomers
Fantastic Four and Arthur and the Invisibles at second and third place, respectively. Also, Naoko Ogigami's Megane opened at 7th place, although I don't know how many screens it opened on.

Despite opening at only 4th place the first weekend, turns out the family film Miss Potter is considered to be doing quite well in Japan, with it being the second-highest-grossing region in the world behind the UK.

- From the (in)famous Johnny's Jimusho comes the newest disposable pop group Hey! Say! Jump! (Jump stands for Johnny's Ultra Music Power. Glad they're still about the music). As an expansion of Hey! Say! (Which debuted recently), there's more of them than ever by making it 10 members.

- This is the closest they got to being right - Hong Kong has chosen Johnnie To's modern western Exiled as Hong Kong's representative for an Academy Award for foreign film.

- After the success of the Korean blockbuster D-War (7.8 million admissions in South Korea, and US$8.5 million and counting in North America as the most successful Korean film in North American box office ever), it's inevitable that the filmmakers would do what every successful B-movie would do: the obligatory sequel!

- Did you know that it's actually legal to download Japanese content from the internet for private use? Of course, it's probably illegal to upload it, but it seems like the downloader carries no actualy legal responsibility. However, it might be too late to tell you this now, because the law is about to change.

- Under "your daily Lust, Caution news" today, Taiwan audiences apparently love Ang Lee's 156-minute erotic thriller. It's even expected to make more than Brokeback Mountain, which is Lee's highest-grossing film in his native country. I should be taking the plunge this weekend.

- It's trailers time! Both courtesy of Twitch. First, there's yet another trailer for Kenta Fukasaku's X-Cross, which finally locked down a release date of December 1st. Honestly, I don't even think he had a say in releasing another trailer, but that's just my opinion. Then there's a trailer for Mamoru Oshii-produced omnibus film Shin Onna Tachiguishi Retsuden. However, it all just seems really silly when a woman in the trailer says with seriousness - "I would like to eat it once more."

- There's a silent fight going on between the Pang Brothers and Andrew Lau about who will make the it's-taking-so-long-that-no-one-is-waiting-for-it-anymore sequel to the comic adaptation Storm Riders. With my hate for Andrew Lau, I would actually really like to see the Pangs take on something that's not horror.

- Lastly, Kaiju Shakedown presents the alternate (read: not as good) ending to Wong Kar-Wai As Tears Go By. It's worth watching just to see how Andy Lau can't even eat an orange the right way.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 24th, 2007 Edition

- It's reviews time! Variety catches up with some Hong Kong film reviews from Toronto, including a disappointingly short review by Scott Foundas for Pang Ho Cheung's Exodus (why the hell do they keep calling it The Exodus?), and a review by Robert Koehler for Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen's Flash Point.

- Korean director Lee So-Yeon's Uninvited might have been a commercial flop in South Korea, but that doesn't mean he's not talented. His latest screenplay Hwan Gung, about a man who believes himself to be a warrior sent to send a woman who thinks she is a mermaid back to the sea, won the Busan Screenwriting Competition, which gives him a grant of 20 million won (roughly US$20,000).

- Under "I just can't get interested in this" news today, Taiwanese idol Wu Chun will be joining the cast of Jingle Ma's Wu Xia Liang Zhu (or a martial arts version of the classic tale Butterfly Lovers). Twins' Charlene Choi will be playing the other ill-fated lover, and Nicholas Tse is also in talks to join as another potential suitor for Charlene's cross-dressing character who will probably fight while hooked on some wire.

Honestly, this sounds like it'll be a pretty shitty movie already.

- From Variety Asia is a short profile of China Film Group head Han Sanping. He's the one that said China needs more "ethically inspiring movies" and said any China-basher is "mentally challenged." Actually, Quentin Tarantino is still saying dumber things (look at the second-to-the-last paragraph).

- From Twitch is a few small paragraphs devoted to the Japanese comedy Maiko Haaaan!!!, which I'll be catching this Friday night.

- Before you in the West go watch it, Ang Lee would like to tell you that his latest film will probably disappoint you and whomever you go watch it with in your local American arthouse.

- EastSouthWestNorth writes about a set of commercials for a Hong Kong theme park not named Disneyland that are freaking some people out. True, the version with both ads on Youtube isn't all that scary, but the original version of one of them is actually pretty freaky stuff.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/24/07

- From the city where puppy movies go far, I should've seen this coming. After making just HK$110,000 from 20 screens on Thursday, the Disney animal superhero film Underdog rebounded for a pretty damn good HK$400,000 from 20 screens at the Sunday Hong Kong box office. However, after 4 days, it's only made a total of HK$1.01 million.

Even though it's only at 3rd place, the vigilante drama The Brave One also saw a rebound, making HK$340,000 from 30 screens for a 4-day total of HK$1.2 million. The third and final opening film on the top 10 is Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises. From 5 screens, the film made HK$50,000 at 8th place for a 4-day total of HK$160,000.

As for holdover films, 1408 is still going relatively strong, making HK$340,000 from 27 screens for a HK$4.13 million 11-day total. Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus is fading away slower than I thought (I thought it'd be way down on the top 10 by now), making HK$250,000 from 33 screens for an 11-day total of HK$3.27 million. A good example of a movie fading away is the B-action flick War/Rogue Assassin starring Jet Li. On 28 screens, it only made HK$170,000 for a 11-day total of HK$2.58 million. Expect this to make single digits mid-week.

This coming weekend is a holiday weekend for Hong Kong films, with Lust, Caution and Oxide Pang's The Detective vying for the top spot. Lust is expected to win, despite being category III and running 159 minutes, but according to Ming Pao, who probably just sent an intern to look at the Broadway Cinema website, presales are only so-so for now. Still, I wonder if that's a good indicator of how it'll do this coming weekend. We won't know until Friday.


- South Korea saw a long holiday weekend, but Mark Russell's Korea Pop Wars was cool enough to report on how the weekend box office is currently doing (apparently, most people have work off until Wednesday). Director Kwak Kyung-taek, who hasn't had a real bona-fide success since his breakout hit Friend, sees his latest film Love take the top spot with so-so admissions. Meanwhile, as a sign of the resurgence of Korean films (or the gradual weakening of Hollywood films), 7 of the top 10 films are again Korean.

- On the other hand, Japan saw yet another public holiday on Monday (The autumn equinox?), so no box office rankings until tomorrow.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Week - 9/23/2007

The first song of the week came to mind when I wrote the review for the soundtrack to the Jay Chou film Secret. Chou said that the film's theme song is supposed to be influenced by Brit rock. However, I wrote that the song is "more Mayday than Keane", which I wonder riled up anyone.

......ok, no one cared. So this week's song is what the theme song to Secret should've been - from the album Hopes and Fears, it's "Somewhere Only We Know"

The Golden Rock - September 23rd, 2007 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 22nd, 2007 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/22/07

You know when I said the Hong Kong box office was really quiet last week? If the figures on Thursday opening day hold up, then get ready for an even quieter weekend in Hong Kong. This week sees 5 new movies opening, with only two of them wide releases. Neil Jordan's The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster, opened with the number 1 spot. The bad news is that it only made HK$190,000 from 30 screens for that top spot. In fact, Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus actually also made HK$190,000, but since it was from 33 screens, that means it just didn't do as well as Jodie Vigilante. After 8 days, the art film has made HK$2.5 million.

The week's other wide release is the Disney film Underdog. From 20 screens, it made just HK$110,000, although business is expected to pick up over the weekend since kids don't go to the movies until the weekend. As for the limited release, Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises made HK$30,000 from 5 screens. Starring Hong Kong actors such as Anthony Wong and Jaycee Chan, the Mainland Chinese art film may see bigger business when we go over the Sunday box office. Also, in two theaters is the Japanese animated film 5 Centimeters Per Second, which made roughly HK$10,000 from its opening day. The only opening film missing is the Japanese film Udon, which is playing in just one theater after it sold out at the summer edition of the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

- After Park Chan-Wook's Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance got relatively wide releases in Japan, his latest I'm a Cyborg but That's OK is seeing only a limited release in Japan. However, that didn't stop fans of those involved, as the film managed to attract 821 people/1.26 million yen on opening day, meaning all 6 shows were over full house. With Sunday added, the first two days earned the film 3 million yen on one screen alone. With 2680 advance tickets sold, could this be the year's limited release hit?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 20th, 2007 Edition

- I know I didn't really follow the rest of the Summer 2007 drama season, but now that's it's one or two finales away from being officially over, let's look at how they did.

The highest-rated drama of the season is the comic-based Hanazakari No Kimi Tachi He, which ran into a bit of a tough spot in the middle, but came out on top with a 21.0-rated finale and a 17.0 average rating. The biggest disappointment is the Monday 9pm Fuji drama First Kiss, which started strong with a 19.7 rating but fell quickly to a 12.4-rating finale and only a 14.1 average. On the other hand, Fuji continues to find success in their new experimental Saturday nights 11 pm period with second drama Life. It started with just a 11.0 rating, but it kept up over the course of the season. In the end, it scored a 17.0 rating finale (extremely good for that time slot) and a 12.2 average. That's actually even better than last season's Liar Game.

With an average of 7.5, I have no idea who's going to be showing up for the Sushi Ouji movie.

Tokyograph also has a preview of the Fall 2007 dramas already, so start your engines and get to picking which ones to in a legitimate fashion when they come out with English subtitles.

- Not that anyone out there needs to be reminded, but the first Japan International Content Festival (CoFestaaaaaa!) started on Wednesday. It had some big opening ceremony (anything even that goes for 40 days and 40 nights ought to), and now the Tokyo Game Show is under way with a record number of exhibitors.

- This is for real - apparently the South Korean government is planning to present North Korea dictator Kim Jong-il, an avid movie buff himself, not only a home theater set, but also a bunch of South Korean movies. One of the possible flicks? D-Wars.

- A personal note of interest: Christopher Nolan's second Batman film The Dark Knight will be coming to shoot in Hong Kong for 9 days in November, and they're planning to shoot around Central. Time to mark my Hollywood film production stalking schedule.

- American home video distributor Viz Media has picked up the theatrical and home video distribution rights for the two Death Note movies. This is a surprise to me in that I wonder why Warner Bros., whose Japanese division co-produced the film, didn't sell the hell out of it for the American release themselves. Then again, Viz Media were great enough to bring Linda Linda Linda and The Taste of Tea to the United States, so maybe they'll do ok with this one. But no DVD release until Summer 2008? That's a mighty long wait.

- Lastly, Variety has the reviews for Chinese-American director Wayne Wang's latest two films, which see the director returning to his indie roots, and both shown at the Toronto Film Festival - The Princess of Nebraska and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 19th, 2007 Edition

- Looking at the Oricon charts, it was a pretty busy week for the singles market. KinKi Kids' latest takes the top spot with an impressive first-week sales of 190,500. On the other hand, Koda Kumi's latest sold 65,000 copies, which would've earned it a number one spot any other week. Ken Hirai's latest's debut is a little soft, selling just over 20,000 for 6th place. Also, at 7th place is the latest electropop group Perfume, and it's also their first single to debut on the top 10. Next week, expect Ayumi Hamasaki's latest (that was fast) to take the top spot yet again.

Things were slower at the albums chart. As expected, Johnny's Entertainment's V6 took the top spot with their latest album, selling 76,000 copies in the first week. The Cro-Magnons, whose lead and guitarist were part of the legendary The Blue Hearts, saw their latest album sell 32,000 copies for a 7th place debut. Somewhat disappointing is the debut of model-turn-pop-star Leah Dizon, whose debut album sold only 27,000 copies for a 9th debut. Looks like the Japanese public knows there's a difference between being able to model and being able to release a competent album. Next week, expect a busy albums chart, but nothing will sell very spectacularly.

- This news is too big not to be at the top. Chow Yun-Fat is looking at a possible collaboration with Hong Kong director extraordinaire Johnnie To on an action movie that might begin to shoot as early as next month. To, who always seems to be juggling several movies at once, has cleared his schedule for this film and is working on the script with frequent collaborator Wai Ka-Fai.

- With just a little more than a month to go, the Tokyo International Film Festival has finally released its full line-up. As announced beforehand, the action film Midnight Eagle will open, and the French period drama Silk will close. the busy Takashi Miike's latest Crows will also have a special screening at the festival.

- The hit comic/animated series Detective Conan will come back for another live-action TV special. Shun Oguri, who was in the first TV special, will reprise his role, and it will be shown on TV in November.

- A television network in Japan decided to cancel the broadcast of the last episode of the animated series School Days after a 16-year-old girl killed her police officer father with an ax in Kyoto recently. The final episode apparently features high school girls acting violently, which I'm sure never happen in real life.

- Under "Doesn't he have anything better to do" news today, Francis Ng is reportedly publishing an English novel about a Tibetan monk. However, he admitted that his writing is not good, and that he would find a ghostwriter. But shouldn't writing well be a basic criteria for publishing a novel?

- Variety's Dennis Harvey gives us a short review of Hollywood Chinese, a documentary about Chinese people in Hollywood (mostly the lack thereof).

- Quite frankly, I wasn't all that thrilled about a lot of the news today (although I'm sure you would be if you're a fan of anything I mentioned here today), so I should give myself some motivation by devoting this entire paragraph to the news that the Shiina Ringo-led Tokyo Jihen will be providing the ending theme song to the film Myoro No Hako. I care because this is the first time the Jihen will be providing a song for a film. Also, I'm sure Shiina Ringo will subsequently sing about 20 covers on it on different albums and concerts.

- According to Apple Daily (NOT one of the more trustworthy newspapers in Hong Kong), netizens have been trashing Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus quite brutally. One netizen wrote this in reference of the film's message: "When a movie becomes so bad, some people might believe it's art. But it doesn't mean there's no such thing as a bad art film." Another person wrote: "The more incoherent it is, the more it means it's an exceptional film." Ouch.....?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/19/07

- Those Japanese box office numbers finally came out. However, they are only for the two-day weekend of Saturday and Sunday, which means it didn't include the holiday on Monday. Anyway, it shows the TV drama adaptation Hero dropping only 18.4%, and apparently it's total gross has already sped past 3.3 billion yen. This will be on track to be the biggest Japanese film of the year, but will it surpass Umizaru 2?

The only discrepancy between the attendance ranking and the numbers is in the film Free and Easy 18. On the attendance ranking, Free and Easy 18 is in 6th place, above Sukiyaki Western Django, Ocean's Thirteen, and Transformers. However, when it comes to earnings, it actually dropped all the way to 9th place, and Ocean's Thirteen even got bumped up above Sukiyaki Western.

Everywhere on the top 10 only suffered small drops, thanks to the holiday weekend.

- Just to fill up the box office report, let's look at the Hong Kong Tuesday numbers. Just like the Sunday numbers, 1408 is on top again, making just HK$270,000 from 27 screens for a 6-day average of HK$2.67 million. Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus, amidst really bad word-of-mouth (more on the news entry), is already seeing a drop in its gross, making just HK$260,000 from 33 screens for a 6-day total of HK$2.07 million. Everything else is kind of ho-hum, but that's the way it goes at the Hong Kong box office.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - FINAL EDITION

After 139 Songs of the Day, it's time to retire the feature. After 140 days of sending in some of my favorite music, it's time to push the feature to weekly, because 1) I just can't think of so many songs without repeating one artist within a month, and 2) I just can't find so much songs on Youtube anymore.

So now I will be posting Songs of the Week on Sunday to replace the Best of the Week and Podcast features (no, my voice shall not be heard on the internet any longer). It will start this Sunday.

Until then, I offer you a chance to tell me your songs of the day. Just send a email at TheGoldenRock AT gmail DOT com, telling me why you love a certain song, send me any video link that i can embed onto the blog, and it will all be copied and pasted (i.e. no extra work for me) as an individual. Sorry, no reward except for one day of internet glory, and only "serious" submissions will be considered.

By the way, you will be limited to one song a week.

Until then, I offer you a last song of the day. From their self-titled debut album and also their latest compilation of remastered tracks, it's Three Dog Night's "One."

Why did I pick this? Because it was looped for 8 minutes for the introductory sequence of one of my favorite movies Magnolia. That cover was by Aimee Mann.

The Golden Rock - September 18th, 2007 Edition

Usually, I would start today with a box office report for Japan, but the public holiday yesterday meant that we only have admissions ranking today. So we shall start from there:

- The top 3 films from last weekend - Hero, Evangelion, and Life: Tears in Heaven - continue to hold their spots. Two newcomers that managed to break into the top 10 are the family film Miss Potter (a bit of a surprise for me, but maybe not to others) and Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django, which opened at a disappointing 7th place. Numbers should come tomorrow.

- According to a senior Chinese film official, Ang Lee's Mainland Chinese version of his latest Lust, Caution, which is reportedly half an hour shorter than the final product and cut by Lee himself, should pass the censorship process. However, the official hasn't seen the movie; he just believes Lee's shorter cut will be satisfactory.

- Here is a radio capture of the Lust, Caution theme song sung by Jacky Cheung (courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth)

- On the other hand, Chinese director Jiang Wen, whose previous film Devils on the Doorstep caused him to be banned from directing for 5 years, simply refuses to talk about the censorship process to avoid getting in trouble. His latest film, on the other hand, DID pass the censorship process and will open in China without any problems. It will also open in Hong Kong 6 days after Lust, Caution, hence the connection.

- Meanwhile, the Associated Press has a very positive review of The Sun Also Rises.

- Of course, since we ARE talking about Chinese censors, here are two more examples: Some creative ways by the censors to get Hollywood to cut their movies, including cutting the torture scene in Casino Royale and even 10 seconds of the Taiwanese flag flying in the background of a scene in The Pursuit of Happyness. And we also have why Bae Yong-Joon's latest drama Four Guardian Gods of the King won't be showing on Chinese screens any time soon. (links courtesy of EastSouthWestNorth)

- Hong Kong 20-somethings love playing their PSPs and Nintendo DS on the go. As sad as this sound, they would literally sit down with their girlfriend while one of them play and the other watches. And a lot of the times, these people are actually playing pirated Nintendo DS games (I don't think legit games have a screen that says "game master" before the game loads). So why the hell are the Japanese only going after the Koreans?

- It's reviews time! Variety's Derek Elley has a way-too-kind review of Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers, and Variety's Alissa Simon has a review of the epic film Mongol, starring Japanese indie fave Tadanobu Asano and Chinese thespian Honglei Sun, who was also in Blood Brothers. Yes, it makes perfect sense why I'd put these reviews up on the same day!

- Apparently it was being marketed at this year's Filmart in Hong Kong, but it still seemed to have come out of nowhere. It's Oxide Pang's C+ Detective, starring the buffest Hong Kong best actor winner ever Aaron Kwok. A trailer is up now, and it opens next week in Hong Kong, which means I'll probably go watch it (then again, I did miss Naraka 19...). By the way, C pronounced in English and "plus" in Chinese sounds like "private." Private detective. Get it?

- This is my favorite report of the day - Jackie Chan apparently wrote on his blog warning fans to not raise their expectations for his latest film Forbidden Kingdom. My favorite quote - ""I believe the world is anticipating the movie, but I'm not too involved." In addition, Jet Li has posted a similar advisory on his own blog, telling fans not to raise their expectations for the Jet-Jackie fight scene.

- Apparently there's a new made-for-TV from Canada called The Devil's Diary that's about a teenager who picks up and "ancient book" that would grant her any wish, including death. Obviously, Asian entertainment buffs are not hesitating one bit in calling it a rip-off of Japanese comic Death Note, about a notebook that would kill anyone whose name ends up on it.

It doesn't premiere until next week, so feel free to just watch a promo and assume everything you can from it.

- It's not confirmed, but director Alan Mak (A War Named Desire, Rave Fever, and the co-director of the Infernal Affairs trilogy) says that he is in talks to sign Sammi Cheng for his latest film co-starring Eason Chan.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 17th, 2007 Edition

It's still Sunday in the states, and Asian films didn't win anything in Toronto, so there's just not that much news out there today:

- Apparently there is such a thing called "sex radio" in China. At least, radio shows that talk about sex. However, I will never be able to find out what they're like, because they just got banned. I really wanted to know about the "efficacy of certain drugs for sex" too.

- Yutaka Takenouchi, whom I always believed to be a cooler version of Takashi Sorimachi, is returning to film after he was in Calmi Cuori Appassionati 6 years ago. This time it's an adaptation of the story "Wenny Has Wings," about how a tragic accident strains the bond of a family. I was really hoping he would just lighten up and do a comedy.

- After Hong Kong-based Max Makowski works on the ill-advised remake of Shinobi (the one that will be about Hong Kong triads instead of ninja clans), he will help revive the 70s television series Kung Fu for film after Allen and Albert Hughes (these guys haven't really worked for a while) decided to take on another project. Please don't tell me this one will involve triads too - just because you're based in Hong Kong doesn't mean it always have to be about triads.

- It's more French than Asian, but Variety's Ronnie Scheib has a review of the French film Plum rain, about a stage director who goes to Japan to oversee his play being performed there. That in itself makes it worthwhile of the blog.

- If you're in Spain in October, be sure to check out the Sitges film festival. This year, you would apparently get to see Dai Nipponjin, Vexville, and Sukuiyaki Western Django, among other films.
- How can Toho simply let people take their most acclaimed films get into the hands of pirates? A Tokyo court has now ordered a company to halt production on their Kurosawa collection. Er....doesn't that mean it's time for Toho to release relaible and cheap DVDs of Kurosawa films?

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/17/07

I was going to do one of these last night, but since it was close to the end of the weekend, might as well just do the weekend box office today.

- Hong Kong box office was pretty quiet on Sunday, with the Hollywood horror flick 1408 leading the pack with HK$590,000 from 27 screens. Considering it's just John Cusack, and that a Japanese film with a similar name opened last weekend, this is a really impressive gross. After 4 days, the Weinstein company film has made HK$2.18 million. At second place wit ha so-so HK$450,000 from 33 screens is Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus. Probably helped by Friday's headlines about the film's curse words (category III-worthy Cantonese curse words in a category II-B film?!), the audience-unfriendly black comedy has made HK$1.55 million after 4 days.

With a better per-screen average is the Hollywood comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. It also made HK$450,000, but from 27 screens. Staying pretty close behind is the Jet Li b-grade action flick War/Rouge Assassin, which made HK$430,000 from 29 screens, and a 4-day total of HK$1.46 million. For some reason, the other weekend opener - Tokyo Friends, starring J-pop star Otsuka Ai - did not get into the top 10. Anyone know how it did?

In holdover, Hollywood musical Hairspray is still strong in the per-screen average department, making HK$290,000 from 17 screens for a 11-day total of HK$2.95 million, which is not bad, considering that its daily average has more than HK$10,000 per-screen. Lastly, score another disappointment for Hong Kong films, as Carol Lai's teen horror film Naraka 19 made only HK$50,000 from 16 screens for a 11-day total of HK$1.85 million. Ouch for Ah Gil and co.


- In South Korean box office, The Bourne Ultimatum came out on top with an OK-485,000 admissions. It's also pretty amazing to see 7 Korean films taking the top 10 slots, with D-War and May 18 still hanging on that top 10. However, apparently two of those Korean films are looking to be flops.

-Speaking of Korean films, Dragon Wars, aka D-War, is now the highest-grossing Korean film in the US after getting a 2000-screen release this past weekend (how an independent company managed to book that many screens is beyond me). It's in 4th place, but it only managed to make US$5.3 million for a US$2,363 per-screen average, which is not very good. However, it seems like a Korean newspaper has already managed to make it sound like good news (courtesy of Asian Popcorn)

It was a public holiday in Japan today, so expect numbers to not come in until tomorrow or Wednesday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 9/15/2007

Thanks, Youtube, for letting me use a side track for today's Song of the Day. It evokes the funky 70s R&B ballad (or it might be 90s, I don't kn0w), and try not to ridicule me for this, because it's a pretty damn good song if you give it a try. From the album FutureSex/LoveSounds, it's Justin Timberlake's "All Over Again (Another Song)".

With these Youtube videos now online, don't be surprised if I pick another side track from this album

The Golden Rock Best of the Week part 2 - September 16th, 2007

Continuing from yesterday, the following is a compilation of some of the more notable news of the past week.

- It's reviews time! Part 2! Twitch has a some reviews from Toronto, including the match-up of the Japanese comedians (yawn....), Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises. Also, they have a review of Ryo Nakajima's This Word of Ours, which I also hold a copy of as well and will review as soon as I can. Meanwhile, we have more reviews of Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django, one by Japan Times' Mark Schilling, and another one by Jason Gray. Lastly, there's a short review of Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus from the Associated Press.

- The mega-expensive Korean drama Guardian Gods, starring Bae Yong-Joon, premiered in Korea with a very solid 20.4 rating. Then, according to Korea Pop Wars, it even got boosted to a 26.9 rating on nights 2 and 3. It's not quite indicative of how the rest of the show will be, but it seems pretty clearly that Yong-sama's spirit lives on.

- Shamo, Soi Cheang's follow-up to Dog Bite Dog, was apparently done all the way back in May (at least done enough to go to Cannes). However, it has yet to see a release date, despite already getting a category II-B for "strong violence and sexual content" all the way back in May. I've been told that it's not very good (please note that I'm understating this very much), so could that have something to do with it?

- What IS the big deal about this damn thing? Disney's straight-to-TV movie High School Musical 2 not only broke records for American cable TV, it also broke Disney Channel records in Singapore and Malaysia. It was also the highest-rated program on pay TV in Hong Kong during its premiere.

- On the heels of the international drama awards in Korea, Japan is holding their first International Drama Festival as part of Cofesta (The Japan Contents Festival).

- Several major foreign networks have just been ok'd to broadcast in China, but not only are they not really bragging yet, they are only in hotels with more than 3 stars and home of non-Chinese nationals. And forget the fact that they're being illegally watched by millions of people anyway.

- For some reason, Michelle Yeoh will be receiving the French Legion of Honor, the highest award for a civilian, and she'll be receiving in in Malaysian capital Kuala Lampur. What did she ever do for France?

- In production news, Singapore's Kelvin Tong is shooting his latest film with Ekin Cheng and Shawn Yue in Hong Kong right now. No word on whether Ekin Cheng plans to act or just be wooden throughout the shoot.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 9/15/2007

Yes, I did review it, but that doesn't mean I can't pick a song from it for The Song of the Day. One particular moment in the song actually gave me a short film idea the other day, so it's good enough to be picked today. From Against the Sun, it's Stephanie Sun's "Unforgettable."

The Golden Rock Best of the Week, Part 1 - September 15th, 2007

You may say I took a "break" in blogging this past week, but I was certainly not in a relaxing mood. In fact, it's more like a "I have no time to blog" week for me. Nevertheless, I'm back now, and posts will continue next week (despite at least 6 short film shoots coming up), and let's let things get back to normalcy around here. That means a ton of news here and a ton of complaining in the spin-off.

Instead of just going over the news of the weekend. The following are some of the most notable news of the week:

- In Oscar submission news around Asia, South Korea has decided to submit Lee Chang-Dong's Secret Sunshine as its representative to compete for the best foreign film award at the Academy Awards. Meanwhile, Japan has decided to submit Masayuki Suo's mainstream successful I Just Didn't Do It for its best picture nominee, as opposed to Naomi Kawase's artsy The Mourning Forest. I haven't seen any of these films, but in terms of award pedigrees, it seems like Secret Sunshine has a better chance of making it.

- It's reviews time! Lovehkfilm has a review of Pang Ho-Cheung's dark comedy-drama Exodus and Carol Lai Miu-Suet's long overdue The Third Eye. Meanwhile, Twitch has a somewhat inexplicably positive review of Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers (1930s China looks like it only consisted of 5 sets, for crying out loud) and a pretty positive review of Johnnie To/Wai Ka-Fai's Mad Detective.

As for festival reviews, Variety has one from Toronto for Takashii Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django, while Hollywood Reporter has one from Toronto for Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus (However, I disagree that Pang has been striving for seriousness that hard. Beyond Our Ken has a pretty mean serious streak beneath it, and Isabella has a surprising amount of comedy as well.)

Oh, Hollywood Reporter also has a review for the Korean blockbuster D-Wars, which they dared to open on wide release this weekend in North America. Why didn't they submit this for best foreign film instead?

- Speaking of Toronto, seems like this year's best performers are not your usual Western-oriented festival fodder, but rather Asian films. However, it seems like reviews are not out yet for many of these Asian films, so how successful are they exactly?

- Two bad news for the Japanese entertainment world - not only has video sales fallen for the 4th year in a row (probably with some type of correlation with the fact that prices for Japanese home videos have risen), Japanese films have lost to Hollywood films pretty badly this past summer. It's pretty sad when Monkey Magic is your best performer of the summer.

- While Europeans continue to complain complain complain about piracy problems in China (valid, but honestly very redundant), Taiwanese law enforcers have taken down two peer-to-peer site in a week, pissing off many Taiwanese youths who want free entertainment, I'm sure.

- John Woo's turbulent shoot of the epic Red Cliff is slated to end on time next month. However, the film(s) still have a long way to go, as it hasn't found an American distributor yet, who will have to pay a hefty price to help Woo and Co. make back that US$80 million investment. I hope someone doesn't screw up and lose all the footage while doing the special effects.

Part II, with box office reports and all, tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More Lust, Caution crap

It's been a long week here at The Golden Rock due to personal and academic issues (trust me, the academic one will be quite detailed in an upcoming post on the spin-off).

Anyway, only a small report at the wee hours of the night - according to Oriental Daily, Ang Lee's sexually explicit espionage "thriller" (this is apparently a loose term) - the film will be showing in Hong Kong without any cut and with a category-III rating (no one under 18 admitted). This comes as a pleasant surprise after the Hong Kong distributor said they were heading for cuts even in liberal Hong Kong.

The Golden Rock will be back tomorrow night with a packed weekend entry.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 9/8/2007

When I say it's addictive, I really mean it's addictive. Today's Song of the Day comes from an album I recently reviewed, and it is definitely the second-best song on a somewhat disappointing album. From the album Ardently Love, it's Hins Cheung's "Cruel Love."

Can anyone pin down what Taiwanese R&B song this sounds like? We'll make it the next Song of the Day.

The Golden Rock - September 8th, 2007 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 9/7/2007

Today's song of the day is not quite fitting for the time and mood, but I heard it on the radio today and was reminded how much I like it. From the compilation album Ultrasound, it's David Tao's "Seasons of Loneliness"

Before the next news post, please take the time to check out my short review of Pang Ho-Cheung's Exodus.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/7/07

- The Thursday Hong Kong box office was very quiet, considering that it's the first opening day since the school year have started. I don't know why they moved a youth-oriented film like Nakara 19 to this weekend, but it did top the box office. However, it only made HK$220,000 from 30 screens to become number 1, which should say a lot about the rest of the chart. The second-biggest opener is the Hollywood musical Hairspray, which made HK$170,000 from 17 screens on opening day. From ticket sales, it should have a healthy per-screen average this weekend.

A film that surprisingly got a higher per-screen average is the Alfred Cheung "romantic" comedy Contract Lover. On only 10 screens (it was on 27 last week), the film managed to break the HK$10,000 per-screen mark to make HK$110,000. After 8 days, the Mainland-targeted comedy has made HK$1.64 million.

Back to the rest of the openers - the Japanese horror film Apartment 1303 (not to be confused with the Hollywood horror film 1408, which will be showing here soon as well) made a weak HK$70,000 from 10 screens; The Last Mimzy made only HK$50,000 from 11 screens (maybe it'll pick up in the weekend with the kids audience); and the chick flick Evening made HK$40,000 from its 5 screen limited release. With 7 openers, that leaves 2 movies out - the Korean horror flick Arang and the Japanese romance Heavenly Forest. Both films opened on 9 screens and made less HK$40,000. They'll be gone in a few days.

- Outdated by a few days, but let's talk Japanese box office numbers. Rush Hour 3 only took a 37% plunge to drop from 1st place to 6th place; Tengoku De Kimi Ni Aetara actually saw a 7% rise to get up to 2nd place. In fact, all the other movies moved by so little that Rush Hour 3 and Taxi 4's drops seems larger in comparison. Hell, even Harry Potter managed to lose just 7% of its audience in its 7th week. Was it that good?

No news post today, but at least a Song of the Day is coming up. Sorry, but there are just not enough news this weekend to go around.

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 9/6/2007

Since I mentioned Ketsumeishi's latest album, how can I go without choosing one of its songs? And how can I choose a Ketsumeishi song without choosing one about summer? It's still hot enough, and the single actually came out a year ago. From Ketsu No Police 5, it's Ketsumeishi's "6 Men and Women's Summer Memories."

Actually, the MTV is quite good, although I'm convinced it's part of something much longer.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 6th, 2007 Edition

We apologize for skipping yesterday's entry, but school and movie stuff reared its ugly head at the same time, and this blogger chose to write a 3-page script for school than a really long entry in a news blog not enough people read. Plus waiting almost 3 hours to not be able to get Eason Chan tickets this morning really pissed us off. But we'll make it up in a bit.

- Let's go over the Oricon charts really quickly. On the single chart, L'Arc~en~ciel's latest got its number 1 debut, selling over 110,000 copies. The second and third places were close, with Exile finally winning out Utada Hikaru's latest by only 1,700 copies in total weekly sales. Exile (which really is just two guys singing and a bunch of people dancing) sold 95,299, and Utada Hikaru sold 93, 518. See how close that was? Next week, expect me to possibly not report the number 1 debut of Arashi's latest single.

As expected, pop rap group Ketsumeishi (imagine a hybrid of reggae, hip-hop, and pop influence blended into one) saw yet another huge debut for their 5th album on the album chart. Selling 430,000 copies (this might be a decrease from their previous album), this makes the group's 4th number 1 album debut in a row. Hell, I'll eventually pick up a copy too. Meanwhile, rock-pop group Porno Graffiti's latest did an impressive 140,000 copies, but could only muster a second place when up against the Ketsumeishi boys. Hideaki Tokunaga's cover album continues to sell well enough to drop by just one spot. Next week, expect Dragon Ash's two compilations (I really hate this new trend of releasing one compilation as two albums) to rule the chart.

- It's reviews time! LoveHKfilm's Kozo reviews romantic comedy stinker Contract Lover, Jingle Ma's "where the hell did that come from" romance Love in the City, and the Japanese comedy Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust. Sanjuro reviews the classic martial arts insult New Game of Death and the Japanese "pure love" film Angel's Egg (Erika Sawajiri again??). There's also a review of the Korean satire The President's Last Bang by yours truly.

Hollywood Reporter has Ray Bennett's reviews of Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises and Lee Kang-Sheng's Help Me Eros, the sole "Taiwan" representative at Venice. Lastly, Variety has reviews of Help Me Eros and Jia Zhangke's latest documentary Useless.

- Speaking of Help Me Eros, Twitch has a link to the trailer. However, everything in that trailer feel so Tsai Ming-Liang, including the detached eroticism, that I'm honestly not all that interested.

- I first thought it was just a really funny rumor, but looks like Kirk Wong's remake of The Five Venoms looks like it's on. The funny part? It'll star Edison Chen, Maggie Q, Leehom Wang, and Wu Jing.

- Under "silly China!" news today, the expected blackout date for non-Chinese/non-communist-patriotic films is coming up, as China comes up to its October Party Congress/Party establishment anniversary date. While it was expected that Hollywood would get blocked out, even Ang Lee's Lust, Caution is getting delayed until the end of the Party Congress.

- Thanks to D-War and May 18, Korean films just had its biggest month, with the highest recorded amount of admissions within a month. Just August alone, Korean films took up 79.6% of the market.

- While Korean special effects blockbuster The Host took its special effects to Hollywood, a Hollywood film just took its special effects to Korea. OK, China/Hollywood co-production and all, but my point about the reversal remains.

- After news that Fruit Chan is making a film about a young Bruce Lee that'll be produced by Terence Chang, another piece of news has come out reporting that Hong Kong's favorite indie director will be directing an English remake of a Japanese horror film. According to the report, this is Chan's attempt to no longer be labeled as an art-house director. He could've made a better choice, though.

Last, but definitely not least; Miyoshi Umeki, the first Asian to win an Academy Award for performance, has passed away. Our condolences to her family.

Coming up on the spin-off tomorrow: Review of Pang Ho-Cheung's latest, and why the hell did i spend 3 hours to end up not getting any Eason Chan concert tickets.

The Golden Rock Box Ofice Report - 9/6/07

Just going over what we missed yesterday:

- The China weekend box office came out, and the two recent Chinese releases have fallen prety hard. Not too hard is the stinker comedy Contract Lover, losing almost 37% of its audience. Falling much harder is Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers, which lost damn near 50% of its audiences, but has made more than double Contract Lover's gross. However, with a poor performance outside China, Blood Brothers is not likely to get its investments back through box office receipts alone. Then again, how many Chinese blockbusters do make money back on box office receipts?

- In North American box office, the two movies that matter had mixed results - War, starring Jet Li, lost 57.4% of its audience from the previous 3-day weekend period (I'm that specific because it was a holiday weekend in the United States). On the other hand, Johnnie To's Exiled opened to a pretty-good US$7, 751 per-screen average over a 3-day period. OK, it was on only two screens and opened at 70th place, but still, per-screen average is what matters.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Golden Rock Song of the Day - 9/4/2007

Today's Song of the Day is one of the summer male pop songs that's been stuck in my head. Just for the fact it doesn't sound like the other Cantopop out there (Miriam/Leon Lai, I'm looking at you...). From the new song/compilation album So Far So...Close, it's Eric Suen's "Before Thoughts, After Love."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Golden Rock - September 4th, 2007 Edition

- There's not much to report in terms of box office numbers, but everyone was surprised as I was that Evangelion 1.0 opened so huge. It was apparently so huge (280 million yen on just 84 screens!) that one cinema couldn't even accommodate the crowd after moving the film to a theater 5 times larger.

- Slightly outdated, but reviews for Shinji Aoyama's latest Sad Vacation are coming in. Variety gave it a bit of a pan, while Twitch seemed to like it. Honestly, I've never seen a Shinji Aoyama thing, fearing that it's not really my thing.

- Variety also has a review of Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises, with Derek Elley calling the film's enjoyment dependent on individual tolerance for cranked-up visuals and acting. Does that mean there's not much beneath the visuals and acting?

- This has absolutely nothing to do with Asian films, but rather pure interest. Wes Anderson's latest The Darjeeling Limited had its premiere in Venice, but sadly under the shadow of star/co-writer Owen Wilson's suicide attempt. The reviews from the two big trade papers are out, with Variety saying that it's closer to The Royal Tennenbaums than The Life Aquatic (that would be a good thing, although I liked both very much). However, Hollywood Reporter's Ray Bennett calls it a third rate Hope and Crosby movie with no big laughs and nothing to say.

- Sorry to those who had tickets to the last two Jacky Cheung concert: the second-to-the-last show was canceled at the very last minutes because the legendary singer got ill and he claims that he couldn't even sing one-third of the songs, failing his basic requirement as a singer. When his cold didn't get any better, he canceled the final show last night as well. Still, I'll bet he sings better than those Twin girls even when he's sick...

Anyway, if you hold those tickets, go and redeem the tickets for the make-up shows at the end of January 2008.

- Imagethief goes over point-by-point on how the report of China Film Group chairman Han Sanping said about China needing more patriotic films is not something that should happen to the Chinese film industry. This quote sums it all up: "...government involvement in any aspect of popular culture, unless it is simply cutting a check, is generally bad form. This is because politicians and bureaucrats are, by and large, crappy arbiters of taste."

- MCL, whose Kornhill cinema is honestly not that great, is working with a property firm named Shaw (not THAT Shaw, right) to open the largest multiplex in Hong Kong. I hope they have sound separation better there then MCL Kornhill.

- A trailer for the Hollywood remake for the Japanese horror flick One Missed Call is up. I never saw the original, but anyone still complaining about PG-13 horror movies should know that it didn't even get any restrictive rating in Japan (maybe a PG-12?)

- The live-action Grave of the Fireflies has started filming, but there's still no information on who's behind the film.

- Not sure who's interested, but the Canadian period film Silk, starring Michael Pitt and Keira Knightley (her in another period film??) will be closing the Tokyo International Film Festival this year.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Golden Rock The Song of the Day - 9/3/2007

Today's Song of the Day is the thid song from the same album, and is part of the music picks of the week post coming soon on The Golden Gate Meets The Lion Rock. From Khalil Fong's album This Love, it's title song This Love (or Love Love Love).

The Golden Rock - September 3rd, 2007 Edition

- We have a tradition of starting each post with number crunching. But now that the box office reports have moved on to their own posts, we'll start with Japanese drama ratings instead. In a rebound from disappointing weeks, the idol drama Hana Zakari no Kimi Tachi He have gone up to its season-high 18.2 rating in its 9th week. The Monday 9 pm Fuji drama First Kiss is not quite back up to its premiere rating, but still seeing a small rebound, going up to a 14.6 from last week's 12.8 rating. The other idol drama, Yamada Taro Monogatari, also sees an increase from last week's 13.6 to this week's 14.6 for its 8th episode.

In outside-primetime category, the Saturday 11 pm Fuji high school bully drama Life also saw a season-high of 14.2 for its 9th week, and the Friday 11 pm TV Asahi drama Sushi Ouji (which you may remember also has a film version on the way) is climbing back up with an 8.1 rating, close to its season-high.

In "someone asked me to follow it" category, Yama Onna Kabe Onna (how many episodes can they go with a drama about breasts?) is just there, with this week's ratings following the current season average of 12.2.

All drama information and description can be seen at Tokyograph.

I was going to try something new with Hong Kong ratings for biggest broadcaster TVB, but that would just seem lazy (without the ATV rating, that is). So consider it forgotten.

- As mentioned yesterday, the Japanese drama adaptation Hero is expected to be the big thing this year, surpassing Dororo as the highest-grossing Japanese film of the year and also surpassing Fuji's own Monkey Magic (also a drama adaptation) to be the widest release for a Japanese film (or only widest live-action? Anyone?). Knowing that everyone in Asia has probably already bought bootlegs or downloaded the drama, Hero will also get a fairly wide Asia release in October, including the widest release for a Japanese film in South Korea.

- This news is kind of a spoiler on its own, but the Hong Kong-based distributor for Jet Li's latest Hollywood flick War (or known as Rouge Assassin in Hong Kong) says he intends to submit the film to Chinese censors, and he expects them to let it in with a few cuts too. Yeah, good luck there.

- Speaking of those damn Chinese censors, blacklisted Chinese filmmaker Jiang Wen is back with The Sun Also Rises. Not only does Variety Asia have a general feature about the film, it also has a whole article about it not having anything to do with Hemingway.

- The Seiun Awards for Japanese science fiction writers was announced. The most curious winners were "Japan Sinks, Part 2" (How much more of Japan was left to sink at the end of that movie?) and the media award going to Toki wo Kakeru Shojo - better known as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

- Honestly, I'm not surprised: Ang Lee says that filming the explicit sex scenes in his latest Lust, Caution left him nearly close to nervous breakdown. Reportedly, these scenes were filmed over an 11-day period in a close set with only a few crew members.

- Despite the recent global credit problems, experts believe that media financing will not be badly affected. Sorry, I posted this to assure myself that I will have a future in the business.

The Golden Rock Box Office Report - 9/3/07

- Hong Kong Sunday box office was pretty well spread out across the top 10, partly because it's the last weekend before schools start in the city. Standing out above and beyond Evan Almighty, which is performing and holding up surprisingly well. From just 29 screens, the underperformer (at least in North America) made another HK$810,0000. After 11 days, the film has already made HK$8.62 million. Not a blockbuster, but a very healthy take for a sequel with an unknown leading man.

As for those 7 opening films, only 3 made it to the top 10. Disturbia got bumped down to third place with HK$290,000 from 24 screens to make it the best performer out of the 7. After 4 days, the teen thriller has made HK$1.19 million, perhaps only fueled by the success of Transformers. The Korean puppy film Hearty Paws saw an increase over the weekend, making HK$270,000 from 20 screen for a 4-day total of HK$800,000. Hearty Paws bumped down Alfred Cheung's Contract Lover (my pan here), who almost made the HK$1 million mark on Sunday by making only HK$250,000 from 26 screens. After 4 days, the lazy Mainland Chinese comedy made HK$960,000.

One film noticeably missing from the top 10 is the Japanese animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The late-afternoon screening I attended yesterday of the Japanese version was COMPLETELY full, but the performance in the Cantonese-dub theaters was probably too weak to push it up to the top 10.


So now the Hong Kong summer box office is officially over, the top 3 foreign films this summer are: Harry Potter (HK$50.4 million), Transformers (HK$39.1 million), and Ratatouille (HK$24.61 million and counting). Sadder is the top 3 Chinese films this summer - Secret (HK$13.89 million and counting), Invisible Target (HK$13.21 million), and the award-winning Simply Actors (HK$9.35 million). The general consensus amongst the Hong Kong market is that Hong Kong films need to adapt to the greater Chinese market. Didn't Hong Kong films work once without having to do that?

- In Korea, the end of summer means a quiet box office. May 18 and D-War is finally on their way out, replaced by Disturbia. The best news is Korean films have rebounded to take 48.5% of total box office in Korea after falling to 42% before the big D-War/May 18 invasion.

- In Japanese attendance rankings, the animated film Evangelion 1.0 took the top spot. However, it seems like you can't access any video content from outside Japan, so I can even see if it's any good (oh, don't worry, you can see it here). The tearjerking biopic Life Tengoku de Kimi Ni Aetara bumped off Harry Potter to take second place for its second weekend. Poor Rush Hour 3 got pushed way down to 7th place.

Speaking of Rush Hour 3, its opening was only 80% of the second film, and the final weekend gross was even bumped up by just over 1 million yen from what was first reported. It was close, but did they want first place that badly?