Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: March 2008 (page 1 of 2)

Mind the Gap

Okay, this has nothing to do with Korean entertainment, but I found it wildly entertaining. GAPMINDER is a great website about world health and economics, with amazing tools for graphically displaying those statistics.

For example, here is a graph comparing North Korean and South Korean incomes-per-person and life expectancy from 1960 to the present.

It is a big database so it might take a couple of minutes to load, but it is pretty cool stuff. Once it is loaded, you can look at so many things:
– Comparing the percentage of people in Korea living in cities to income since 1960 here.
– South Korea’s Internet users per 100 people since 1990 here

Don’t Let It Bring You Down I Don’t Think Neil Young’s Coming…

Some thoughts on the recently announced and rather dubious Flower Power Peace Festival over on my other blog, Korea Gig Guide. The part that makes it more media related is that the organizer is apparently the Gangwon Broadcasting Network, the company that bought MK Pictures late last year.

Book Update

Well, we are getting pretty close to the publication of POP GOES KOREA (nee KOREA POP WARS). I am currently grinding my way through a reback of the entire book, which can be a little interesting (to see what an editor did with my words), but is mostly tedious (because of what the editor did with my words).

Once I get through all of this, then I just need to finish off a snapshots section and I am pretty much done. I believe Stone Bridge will send me a copy of the page proofs some time in April, for one last fact check. And then we will be done.

Of the writing, anyway. I gather the marketing department intends on giving the book something of a push, so it could be I get some new publicity responsibilities. Not sure what that might entail, but I will do what is needed to help the book sell.

I think POP GOES KOREA could be on store shelves in May. If not, then June.

I suppose I should be thinking of the next book…

Korea Weekend Box Office – March 21-23

Looks like the March Blahs are in full force once again this year, with pretty lousy box office across the board. Each year we get a lull between the Lunar New Year and the summer movie season (which, of course, begins in May).

Top film was the Kwon Sang-woo film FATE. If you are into looking at Kwon with his shirt off, this could be the film for you. But it does not seem like the kind of film for me.

Otherwise, not a lot of changes from last week. 10,000 BC, then CHASER then STEP UP 2 (even upper and steppier than the first).

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL really sucks, by the way. Avoid it at all costs.

This Week Title…………………………………….. Release Date Screens Nationwide Weekend Revenue (bil. won) Total Revenue (bil. won)
1. Fate (Sukmyeong – Korean) 3.20 334 1.89 2.30
2. 10,000 BC 3.13 326 1.25 5.52
3. The Chaser (Chugyeok – Korean) 2.14 309 1.21 29.33
4. Step Up 2 3.13 251 1.16 4.22
5. The Other Boleyn Girl 3.20 126 0.68 0.78
6. Vantage Point 2.28 150 0.26 6.41
7. Babo (Korean) 2.28 158 0.24 6.08
8. Amazing Grace 3.20 57 0.24 0.29
9. Brave Story 3.20 56 0.10 0.10
10. My New Partner (Korean) 3.06 88 0.062 1.63

(Source: KOBIS – Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)

Loved the Youtube parody for THERE WILL BE BLOOD, titled THERE WILL BE BUD (it’s not about beer). Yeah, I’m not exactly breaking new ground here, but I was impressed nonetheless.

Hong Kong Filmart 2008 – Wrap Up

I guess I should write a little conclusion to my trip to the Hong Kong Filmart, now that I am back, safe and sound.

This year’s Filmart was busier than ever. As usual, not a lot of actual deals going down at the market, but there was plenty of talking and schmoozing. (What usually happens is that people meet at Filmart, make and renew acquaintances, but do most of the deal signing later, like at Cannes). But some people think that Filmart has some momentum behind it and is rapidly turning into the main Asian film market.

Sorry PIFF, but you are losing ground… plus your hotel room venue just does not seem as professional to some exhibitors.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER published dailies at Filmart for the first time (you can download them here). I think we did a decent job of covering the event, all things considered. And, as always, it was fun to see everyone from all over, many of whom you only see once a year at Filmart.

As usual, there were plenty of parties and receptions, although THR kept me too busy to attempt most of them, I’m sad to say. But Hong Kong is Hong Kong, and there is always plenty going on, plenty of old friends to see.

The last night was particularly amusing, as I went drifting around from place to place, bumping into friends and people I only vaguely know. Around 2am or so, I stumbled into some upscale place where a big Hollywood mogul was hanging out, with his sizable entourage. I resisted the temptation to be all fake-friendly, though, and mostly stayed with my decidedly non-mogul friends. But it was a fun, late night.

* * *

Oh, for those of you interested, I have written a little review of Yozoh’s debut album over at the KOREA GIG GUIDE.

Korea Weekend Box Office – March 14-16

This Week Title…………………………………….. Release Date Screens Nationwide Weekend Revenue (bil. won) Total Revenue (bil. won)
1. 10,000 BC 3.13 401 3.12 3.55
2. The Chaser (Chugyeokja – Korean) 2.14 374 2.07 27.33
3. Step Up 2 3.13 337 2.01 2.33
4. Babo (Korean) 2.28 253 0.58 5.70
5. Vantage Point 2.28 242 0.56 5.98
6. Humming (Heoming – Korean) 3.13 210 0.32 0.39
7. My New Partner (Korean) 3.06 231 0.24 1.49
8. 27 Dresses 3.06 231 0.23 1.41
9. My Blueberry Nights 3.06 154 0.12 0.87
10. Spiderwick Chronicles 2.14 65 0.055 4.09

(Source: KOBIS – Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)

Hong Kong Filmart 2008 – Mini Report 2

It has been interesting getting to Filmart so far ahead of time, for once. The Hong Kong Filmart runs Monday to Thursday (March 17-20… although most people leave on Wednesday), but this year THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is publishing dailies, so I arrived a few days early to set up.

Our office is just above the market floor, in a nice, spacious location. We have a window that overlooks the floor, reminding me of the VIP room in some colossal disco. Best of all, our room number is “14” — the most unlucky number for Chinese people of a superstitious bent (it’s even worse than 4 is in Korea).

After a couple of days of mad, hectic rushing, the exhibition crew has just about finished setting up everyone’s booths. Packing wrap is being pulled down. Paint is almost dry. I’m told the registration booth will be issuing ID cards within an hour.

It is always great to be in Hong Kong. We went to a great Peking Duck place last night. Already checked out Happy Valley. Done some shopping. Went to Ebenezer for kebabs and biryani and didn’t get dysentery. It’s been a full trip.

Maybe I should do some real work now…

Hong Kong Filmart 2008

I’m off to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Filmart (March 17-20, but I need to get there early), so I will not have much news to report for the next week or so. If something really interesting happens in Hong Kong, I might try to write it up, but I fear I am going to be too busy to do so.

Anyhow, Hong Kong Filmart is always one of the more interesting events of the year, on the Asian film calendar. HK in the spring and Pusan in the autumn. Plenty of events, parties, stress and fun.

There is a major film festival going on, too, but I never really get out of the market, so I do not know much about it.

This year, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER is publishing dailies at the market for the first time, so quite a crew of us should be there, from Los Angeles and all over. Should be interesting to see what they think of the Filmart and Hong Kong.

Korea Weekend Box Office – March 7-9

Another good week for THE CHASER, which has now raced past 3.6 million admissions. Four million is a certainty, and I suppose 5 million is looking increasingly possible. Very good news for Showbox (the distributor) and Na Hong-jin (director).

Otherwise, not a lot of note this week. There is a lot of parity in the top-10, with even the No. 10 film on 145 screens.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD opened way down in 17th (which I saw an quite liked, in a great-bad-movie sort of way).

Hong Sang-soo’s NIGHT AND DAY was in 19th, and now has slightly over 7,000 admissions.

This Week Title…………………………………….. Release Date Screens Nationwide Weekend Revenue (bil. won) Total Revenue (bil. won)
1. The Chaser (Chugyeokja – Korean) 2.14 424 3.10 23.72
2. Vantage Point 2.28 279 1.35 4.86
3. Babo – Korean 2.28 284 1.31 4.59
4. My New Partner – Korean 3.06 265 0.80 0.92
5. 27 Dresses 3.06 262 0.74 0.84
6. My Blueberry Nights 3.06 191 0.43 0.55
7. Assembly 3.06 189 0.26 0.31
8. Jumper 2.14 174 0.23 10.88
9. Spiderwick Chronicles 2.14 149 0.21 4.00
10. Rambo 4 2.28 145 0.071 0.64

(Source: KOBIS – Figures represent 97% of nationwide box office)

CHASER Running West

Na Hong-jin’s THE CHASER is heading to Hollywood. According to a story in today’s HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (by me, hah!), Warner Bros. bought the remake rights for $1 million (plus other considerations).

If you are not a fan of remakes, you should be able to catch the original soon enough … provided you live in Hong Kong, the Benelux, France or Greece. They all bought distribution rights to the original.

Which reminds me — at long, long last, THR’s Asia website is finally up and running. I think it looks pretty nice… although apparently a lot of changes are on their way.

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