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The Ring Two is top dog at U.S. box office, Steamboy released, International Channel re-brands to appeal to Asian Americans, Asian and Asian American guest stars on the Simpsons. But wait, there's more, and it's all in this edition of News Bites.
Ring Two #1 at U.S. Box Office
Horror movie, The Ring Two, topped the box office, earning an estimated $36 million its opening weekend. The amount is more than twice that of the opening weekend of the first Ring, which grossed $15 million in 2002. The Dreamworks-released film stars Naomi Watts and is directed by Japanese director Nakata Hideo. It is based on the director’s popular Ringu franchise, already released in Japan. The box office success of the second Ring film continues the general trend of box office successes of Asian films remade for American audiences, such as The Grudge, and the first Ring. Expect to see more remakes soon; already slated for release is another Nakata Hideo film, Dark Waters, starring Jennifer Connelly (though the U.S. release will not directed by Nakata Hideo), while discussions for a second adaptation of Hong Kong horror franchise The Eye are currently underway.
Steamboy steamrolls through U.S. theaters
March 18th saw the U.S. release of Steamboy, the latest Japanese animated film from acclaimed Akira director Katsuhiro Otomo. Released over the summer in Japan, the U.S. version features voice-dubbing by actors such as Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin and Alfred Molina. Set in Victorian England, Steamboy is young inventor Ray Steam (Paquin), who must protect a mysterious metal sphere from falling into the hands of evil. With production costs of about $20 million, the film has set a record as the most expensive anime film yet.
Kung Fu Hustle(s) a U.S. Release Date
Sony Pictures Classics has set a release date for Kung Fu Hustle, the latest film by Hong Kong kung fu comedian-extraordinaire Stephen Chow. Slated for limited release on April 8th in Los Angeles and New York, the film has already broken records across Asia during its late 2004 release. In the film, director and star Stephen Chow plays a petty thief trying to join the infamous Axe Gang in pre-Revolutionary China. In his efforts, he tries to extort the residents of an ordinary small slum on the outskirts of the city, but soon discovers the residents are far from ordinary. The quick American release of Hustle marks a change from Chow’s last film, Shaolin Soccer, which was released in 2001 in Asia but delayed until 2004 for release in the United States.
International Channel reformats
The International Channel, a cable channel devoted to programming from outside of the United States, has decided to completely rebrand and reprogram itself to appeal to the Asian American demographic. Starting on March 28th, viewers of the International Channel will notice a change, mainly that the network is now dominated by Asian programming. While it plans to make Middle Eastern and European programming available through its premium channels, International Channel's basic cable formatting will now feature shows, films, and news from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, among others. According to the press release, the shift is an expansion of their already popular “Asia Street” programming block, and reflects the growing affluence of Asian Americans and their importance to advertisers.
The Simpsons see more yellow
The current season of The Simpsons has featured the guest voices of several prominent Asians. In a recent episode, the Simpsons visited the People’s Republic of China. No longer able to have children, Marge’s sister Selma decides to adopt a baby girl from China. Putting Homer’s name down on the application as her husband, the Simpsons travel to China and to adopt Selma’s baby. Chinese American actress Lucy Liu guest stars as Madam Yu, the Chinese bureaucrat that handles Selma’s adoption process.
In the episode that aired directly after the Superbowl, NBA star Yao Ming and Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan lent their voices to the show as attendants of Homer’s school for obnoxious athletic victory dances.
Jake Long enters the dragon
American Dragon: Jake Long has been airing on the Disney Channel for the past couple months. Debuting in January, the animated show features a Chinese American family living in New York City. The 13-year-old son, Jake Long, is the descendant of a long line of Chinese dragons, and by virtue of living in the States, has become the American dragon. Guided by his grandfather and the magical Fu dog, Jake learns to refine his skills as a dragon, and fight the evil huntsman who want to capture all magical beings and entities -- dragons included. All this while he juggles school and the pains of growing up. The show features several Asian American actors as the principal voices, including Filipino American Dante Basco as Jake, Keone Young as Jake’s grandfather and Lauren Tom as Jake’s mom.
Date Posted: 3/24/2005