Monday, November 26, 2007

Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 23-25

Quite a jump up for SEVEN DAYS this week, pulling in $2.3 million (up from about $1.8 million last weekend). Not often you see a jump like that (although LE GRAND CHEF did the same just two weeks ago). A good sign people are enjoying Kim Yun-jin's thriller.

GRAND CHEF and LUST, CAUTION both are continuing to do rather well, off a little but not a lot last weekend. Kind of nifty to see LUST CAUTION breaking the 1 million admissions mark.

SAW 4 and GOLDEN AGE both had fairly tepid openings.

Sorry, not a whole lot of commentary to make this week.

This WeekTitle............................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend AttendanceTotal Attendance
1.Seven Days (Korean)11.14332327,249866,193
2. Le Grand Chef (Sikkaek - Korean)11.01337296,5882,400,304
3.Lust, Caution 11.08296224,6551,059,333
5. Saw 4 11.21242123,353171,250
6. Golden Age11.2222783,477116,831
7.Scout (Korean)11.1428552,238268,488
8.La Vie en Rose 11.2118246,48261,758
9. Maeulgeumgo Yeonsoe Seupgyeoksageon (Korean)11.1416215,920108,997
10. Going by the Book (Bareuge Salja - Korean)10.1810012,5752,148,639
(Source: KOBIS - Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Awards, Memoirs, and Ass-kicking

Just wasted an evening watching the 28th Blue Dragon Awards on KBS. Very exciting. A lot of distressing fashion choices there tonight. Granted, I'm no George Clooney, but Kim Tae-hee's outfit was pretty hideous.

This was my first awards show with HD, and as unfortunate as some of those dresses were, my friends were even more shocked by lines and bad makeup on many of the stars. HD really is pretty cruel to some celebrities.

Anyhow, as for the awards themselves, no single film dominated this year. No real terrible decisions, either.


Best Director - Hur Jin-ho, HAPPINESS

Best Actor - Song Kang-ho, THE SHOW MUST GO ON

Best Actress - Jeon Do-yeon

Best Supporting Actor - Kim Sang-ho, THE HAPPY LIFE

Best Supporting Actress - Na Moon-hee, CRUEL WINTER BLUES

Best Screenplay - Kim Nam-min, PARADISE MURDERED

Best Cinematography - Yoon Nam-ju, EPITAPH

Best Lighting - HWANG JIN-YI

Best Art Design - EPITAPH

Best Effects - THE RESTLESS

Best New Director - Kim Nam-min, PARADISE MURDERED

Best New Actor - Daniel Henney, MY FATHER

Best New Actress - Jeong Reo-won, THE TWO FACES OF MY GIRLFRIEND

I probably missed a couple of awards, but I cannot think of them right now... and do not care enough to double-check.

Btw, the great actress Choi Eun-hee has just written an autobiography. You can read a summary of it here.


And now, for no particular reason, here is a picture from Jun Ji-hyun's coming film BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE. I think it is a pretty good teaser. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Music, Manners and Mammaries

I usually try not to just link to other people's stories when I do not have much of my own to add, but there were a bunch of interesting articles in today's Chosun Ilbo. And they all made the English edition, so that is even more convenient.

  • First up, there was an article about Seo Taiji's latest, a new CD set and other events to commemorate the singer's 15th year anniversary of stardom. Funny old photos of Seo, too. Say what you will about the quality of his music, it is great to know there was a time when someone off the radar appeared and genuinely transformed a country with his songs (and dancing and whatnot).

  • Very amusing story about Korean audiences' "bad manners." Usually I am not a big fan of those self-flagellating, aren't-we-Koreans-terrible story (or their silly opposite, the boastful, aren't-we-Koreans-amazing stories), but this one seemed a little more interesting than most.

    The article lists the usual litany of social faux-pas, like bringing very young children to classical music concerts (or anywhere, in my humble opinion), snoring at the movies, not turning off cell phones at the movies, talking on cell phones at the movies, taking endless pictures of golfers with cell phones at tournaments (I seem to notice a theme to theme complaints...). But in addition to just complaining, it added a little analysis toward the end:
    The lack of manners is probably due to the small number of concert-goers here, most of whom have little education in the etiquette. According to a 2006 survey on Koreans’ culture and art-related activities, only 6.8 went to museums and 3.6 percent to classical concerts.

    Really? Do more Chicagoans or Torontonians go to classical concerts? I guess it depends if we are talking about "going in a year" or "going ever in their lifetimes." But I think the article finally got at a more interesting, local aspect of the problem here:
    Another big problem is the mass giveaway of concert tickets.

    Bingo. The whole live music scene here (classical and contemporary) has some rather odd economics. People love to complain that shows are "too expensive," but somehow corporations have the money to sponsor these shows and then give away scads of tickets to anyone and everyone.

    Although the article cited a lot of problematic behaviours, personally my biggest complaint about audiences here is the applauding of utter crap. It's like a competition to see who can shout encore first and loudest. And the multiple curtain calls to some off-key warbler at the opera or wherever is just plain annoying. I prefer the Italian example, where people feel free to boo a lousy performance, like it were a sporting event.

    I think that ties into the free tickets... people are going who are not really fans of the performance and who do not know much about it, and are instead just acting out some misconceived idea of what a classical concert should be.

  • Then again, I have been repeatedly watching Carrie Underwood singing the Heart song "Alone" on American Idol (via Youtube), so maybe I should keep my bitchy comments about people's bad taste to myself.

  • Finally (and best of all) was the Chosun's article about photographer Kim Yong-ho. Kim got into trouble recently when he published some topless photos of ballerina Kim Ju-won in the local VOGUE magazine. Or, rather, the ballerina got into trouble (women tend to get blamed for moral outrages in Korea).

    Some of Kim's other photos are currently on display at the Daelim Contemporary Art Museum in Seoul, in an exhibit called BODY (or mom, in Korean). As Kim says in the article:
    I wanted to get attention from all sectors of society; that was the main objective of my exhibition. But all I got was the realization that our reality does not tolerate diversity. We had a fine response from the readers of Vogue magazine. But what happens to the model? She’s criticized and disciplined. Those are in a way the different faces of our society.

    It looks like a good show. You should check it out if you get the chance.

  • Monday, November 19, 2007

    Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 16-18

    For the third weekend in a row, LE GRAND CHEF was the biggest film in land, adding another $2.7 million to bring its total boxoffice to around $14 million.

    BEOWULF followed closely No. 2, with around $2.6 million, or $3.7 million including previews. Once again, the folks in Hollywood screwed up their numbers, though, as for some reason the international trades are reporting BEOWULF was on 159 screens in Korea (not the actual 359, giving the movie an insane per-screen average).

    Hrm, just got a call from Warner. They claim the film was on 276 screens. Wonderfully confusing.

    I was surprised that the Kim Yun-jin thriller SEVEN DAYS did not do better. I thought it had a strong marketing push and pretty good reviews. Despite that, it only opened in third.

    LUST, CAUTION is still doing well, at fourth. Apparently the movie is a big hit with women, who make up 70% of tickets sold (much higher than the usual male/female split, which is closer to 50/50).

    SCOUT did remarkably poorly, for a film showing on over 400 screens.

    And ONCE is still holding on to 10th, nearly two months after its release. In fact, ONCE's soundtrack is the best-selling foreign CD in the land at the moment,

    This WeekTitle............................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend AttendanceTotal Attendance
    1.Le Grand Chef (Sikkaek - Korean)11.01472379,5661,915,622
    2. Beowulf11.14359365,619501,734
    3. Seven Days (Korean)11.14373252,313346,747
    4. Lust, Caution11.08297220,343644,057
    5.Scout (Korean)11.14403129,490167,940
    6.Going by the Book (Bareuge Salja - Korean)10.1824364,5892,108,789
    7.Maeulgeumgo Yeonsoe Seupgyeoksageon (Korean)11.1422657,44675,174
    8. The Butterfly11.0821220,173175,445
    9. Lost Lines11.0817617,583143,280
    10. Once9.20199,740158,285
    (Source: KOBIS - Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Korean Music Charts - October 2007

    Back when I started this blog, I included the Music Industry Association of Korea's month music sales chart as part of my regular comments, but after a few months I stopped. It was just too depressing. Sales were miserable and the quality of music in the charts was even more miserable. I did not want to spend all my time complaining and being negative, so I decided not to write about it.

    But I found myself curious about how the music biz has been doing this year, so I checked out the latest MIAK charts.

    The most immediate thing I noticed is that only one album released in 2007 has sold over 100,000 albums. Pretty shocking, really, considering just a few years ago top stars would move 1 or 2 million. But these days, SG Wannabe can become the biggest selling artist of the year with just 190,000 albums sold.

    The second thing I noticed was the dominance of ballads in October. The top five albums are all ballad oriented!

    It also looks like that brute-force marketing is less and less useful. Super Junior's latest has already fallen to 11th, after being released on Sept. 20. Wondergirls have dropped all the way to 17th, and have sold just 18,000 copies of their first album since it was released on Sept. 13. TELL ME might be catchy and might even be a hit at the karaoke rooms, but Wondergirl fans are not buying CDs at all.

    Other notes:
  • Lee Sang-eun's 13th album made its debut in 25th.

  • Hey, Shim Soo-bong has a new album! It's her 11th, and it hit the stores on Oct. 25. Not so many Shim fans left apparently, as it opened in 34th. Not that time or that person anymore, I guess.

  • With foreign music selling so miserably, classical music is growing ever bigger, at least on a proportional basis.

  • Even Paul Potts (the musical equivalent of the Nixon-Kennedy debate) is selling in Korea. And Andrea Bocelli. I'm not sure whose success I find more distressing. Do yourself a favor -- check out their stories on Wikipedia or Youtube or wherever, cry, emote do whatever you feel compelled to do. Then head directly to a music store and completely IGNORE their CDs. Buy something by Jussi Bjorling instead. Your ears will thank you.

    This MonthArtistAlbum NameRelease DateThis Month's SalesTotal Sales
    1.EruVol. 3 - Eru Returns9.1930,97842,228
    2.Brown-Eyed SoulVol 210.3130,09530,095
    3.FT IslandFT Island6.0828,74676,097
    4.See YaVol. 25.2527,80781,393
    5.SG WannabeVol. 44.0619,050190,125
    6.Jo PDVol. 610.2217,36417,364
    7.Cho Shin-seongVol. 110.2515,40515,405
    8.Lee Soo-youngVol. 8 - Set It Down9.1215,02751,035
    9.Lee Seung-chulVol. 9 - The Secret of Color 210.1814,60414,604
    10.Taewangsasingi OSTTaewangsasingi OST10.1713,84113,841

    (source: MIAK)

    And here is the foreign sales chart:
    This MonthArtistAlbum NameRelease DateThis Month's SalesTotal Sales
    1.Once OSTOnce OST8.1412,16013,138
    2.BoAComplete Clips 2004-20063.2112,00013,258
    3.Richard Yongjae O'NeillWinter Journey9.119,9689,968
    4.Luciano PavarottiPavarotti Forever9.203,7305,606
    5.Orchestra de NodameOrchestra de Nodame Live8.233,55212,074
    6.Richard Yongjae O'NeillLachrymae2006.9.073,22230,703
    7.BoALove Letter10.043,1893,189
    8.Andrea BocelliBest of Andrea Bocelli10.253,0633,063
    9.Ennio MorriconeGold Edition10.022,4452,445
    10.Paul PottsOne Chance8.022,1132,113

    (source: MIAK)
  • Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 9-11

    Lots of interesting things going on at the Korean boxoffice last week. The top film, LE GRAND CHEF, actually increased its weekend haul, rising 15% from last weekend. You do not see that happen very often. After 10 days, CHEF has made about $9 million.

    In No. 2 was Ang Lee's LUST, CAUTION, which I think is pretty good for a 2 1/2 hour sexual thriller. In just three days, LUST made about $1.9 million. In the United States, the film has needed 45 days to make just $3.7 million.

    In third, GOING BY THE BOOK has now topped 2 million admissions, which is generally considered a solid outing.

    Fuji-TV's HERO is now up to 224,000 admissions. Not great, but not bad.

    Finally, the No. 9 film, SEVEN DAYS, is pretty interesting this week, as the film has not even been released yet. At least not officially. But already it has pulled in 30,000 admissions before it even hits the screens. Not sure how I feel about this. After all, 30,000 admissions will not make a big difference to its overall admissions count, so it is not like the distributor is trying to boost its numbers. But, still, it does look odd.

    Anyhow, congratulations to SEVEN DAYS, for being the latest Korean film to get the Hollywood remake treatment. Summit Entertainment apparently is planning on making a $30 million remake in the next year or so.

    This WeekTitle............................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend AttendanceTotal Attendance
    1.Le Grand Chef (Sikkaek - Korean) 11.01412507,1511,290,330
    2.Lust, Caution 11.08298226,722269,423
    3. Going by the Book (Bareuge Salja - Korean)10.18279182,7691,981,630
    4. The Butterfly11.0824293,427124,833
    5. Lost Lines 11.0820585,153100,003
    6. Hero (Japan)10.2523949,415223,979
    7.Shadows in the Palace (Gungneo - Korean)10.1824946,8221,349,965
    8. Kingdom11.0117344,029224,410
    9.Seven Days (Korean) 11.14 (!)5015,00829,843
    10.Black Dahlia 11.0119613,892120,080
    (Source: KOBIS - Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)

    Btw, what is up with international boxoffice reports that have two films from India leading this past weekend? According to the trades, OM SHANTI OM made about $17 million, while SAAWARIYA came second with $14.4 million.

    My problem with these reports? I cannot find a weekend ever when the entire top-10 of the Indian boxoffice earned even $12 million. Ever. And now two films alone have pulled in $30 million? Seems very unlikely. I suspect someone is playing games with their numbers.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Concert Calendar

    Just a quick note to say that Kongjung Camp is having a good bash tomorrow (Saturday) night. Fourth anniversary, I do believe. Several acts will be playing, including Byul. Show starts around 7 or 7:30 or so. (Kongjung Camp is close to Sanullim Theater).

    Oh, and here is an interesting lineup at Club FF for tomorrow, too:

    Also, on Dec. 8, DGBD is having a toys for tots show. Show starts at 6pm and includes Kingston Rudieska, Galaxy Express, and Johnny Royal.

    And on Dec. 22, Asia Kungfu Generation is playing at ... uh, I forgot. Somewhere in Hongdae. Rolling Hall?

    The end of the year is always a big concert time in Korea. As I hear about more shows, I will post.

    UPDATE: I forgot to mention this year's Bud Rock Concert coming up on Nov. 17 at Olympic Stadium. Most of the bands do not excite me terribly much -- Starsailor, Lee Seung-hwan, Rize, Supercard and Dr. Core 911. But the most interesting part of that show, imho, is the Japanese band Ellegarden. At just 22,000 won, it is not a bad deal at all.

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Korea Weekend Box Office - Nov. 2-4

    Big turnover this week, with half of the top-10 consisting of new entries, led by Jeon Yoon-soo's LA GRAND CHEF, with about $3.6 million. Based on the comic book by Heo Yeong-man (TAZZA), LA GRAND CHEF is also being made into a TV show, so if you like it, you are sure to get plenty more soon enough.

    The next new title this week was HERO, the Fuji-TV film featuring a cameo from Lee Byung-hun. With 271 screens, it had the widest release ever for a Japanese film in Korea, just slightly ahead of THE SINKING OF JAPAN's 256. Did not come close, however, to matching SINKING's boxoffice, which pulled in 479,000 in its opening weekend, compared to 128,000 for HERO.

    Other new releases did not do much. KINGDOM had just 127,000 admissions, BLACK DAHLIA (released a year late) had 75,000. And Lee Joon-ki's latest, VIRGIN SNOW, took in just 13,000. Although VIRGIN SNOW did get a 44 screen release -- for a while there, it was looking like it would only get 10 screens. But this Japan-Korea coproduction has its eye on the Japan DVD market for the bulk of its revenues.

    This WeekTitle............................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend AttendanceTotal Attendance
    1.Le Grand Chef (Sikgaek- Korean)11.01436440,813518,397
    2. Going by the Book (Bareuge Salja - Korean)10.18329261,3351,661,958
    3.Shadows in the Palace (Gungneo - Korean)10.18287108,4271,234,644
    4.Hero (Japan)11.01271104,915128,202
    5. Kingdom 11.01192102,192127,675
    6. Black Dahlia11.0121560,23075,412
    7. M (Korean)10.2531845,912396,098
    8.Resident Evil 3 10.1819034,788509,799
    9. Virgin Snow (Cheotnun - Korean)11.014410,51112,814
    10. Copying Beethoven10.114310,122265,281
    (Source: KOBIS - Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)