‘Attack on Titan’ Sweeps Japanese Box Office

Asia / Pacific Roundabout

The live-action version of a popular manga swept the Japanese box office over its opening weekend, delegating foreign animated feature Minions to second place. Opening on August 1 on 427 screens, Attack on Titan earned JPY603 million ($4.83 mil.) from a reported 467,000 admissions, while Minions raked in JPY546 million ($4.38 mil.) over the same period. The science-fiction thriller is based on a popular manga comic series by Isayama Hajime, who also co-wrote the movie’s script. The movie was simultaneously released in 2D, 4DX, IMAX, MX4D and D-BOX formats and reportedly is only the first part of a two-part epic, with the second part scheduled to premiere on Sept. 19.

Attack on Titan is set in a dystopian future, where mankind is under attack by a vicious race of flesh-eating titans who must be defeated to save what is left of civilization. Eren, a teenage boy with special powers, assists the military to achieve that goal. Although audiences have generally lauded Attack on Titan for its action-packed scenes and amazing visuals, some diehard fans of the original manga have voiced disappointment over the script veering off too much from the source material.

Monster Hunt Sets New China Record

Based on a videogame of the same name, China-produced fantasy-comedy spectacle Monster Hunt has become the country’s highest-grossing film during its opening weekend, unseating previous title-holder Lost in Thailand (2012). Released on July 16, director Raman Hui’s film earned just over RMB323 million ($51.93 mil.) from 9.72 million admissions during its first weekend of July 17–19, the largest amount ever.

Still occupying the unchallenged number-one box-office position even after three weeks in theatres and unabatingly attracting audiences in droves, Monster Hunt had at press time already made more than RMB1.9 billion ($305.48 mil.), giving it the distinction of so far being the top-earning locally produced film in China’s history. Only foreign movies Furious Seven (2015) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) were able to earn more during their entire screening runs, raking up RMB2.43 billion and RMB1.98 billion, respectively. Even much-hyped Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) fell short of expectations and managed a gross of only RMB1.46 billion.

Monster Quest innovatively mixes animation with real-life action scenes and tells the story of the power struggles between two mythological kingdoms—one good, the other evil. Though this may sound like a serious action drama, it is nevertheless classified as a fantasy-comedy due to its various (intentionally or unintentionally) funny twists and turns. This includes the premise of the protagonist (played by Eric Tsang) actually carrying out and giving birth to a baby that had been implanted in him by the pregnant but dying evil queen. Are you getting confused? Well, Chinese audiences evidently just love this sort of stuff!

Thailand’s Juthamas Finally Faces Rap

Thailand’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has decided to finally indict the former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Juthamas Siriwan, and her daughter Jittisopha for allegedly accepting bribes amounting to THB63.3 million (worth around $1.8 million at the time) in exchange for awarding contracts to a Los Angeles-based film producer couple to host the since-defunct Bangkok International Film Festival and also run other related projects between 2003 and 2006. The OAG’s decision was confirmed by Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NAAC), which had investigated the bribery scandal that ultimately led to the scrapping of the annual festival.

While Juthamas allegedly negotiated the deal, her daughter allegedly accepted into her bank accounts the bribes paid by Gerald and Patricia Green. After the scandal had come to light, the Greens were indicted and tried in a Los Angeles court. In 2010, the couple were found guilty of money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. They were sentenced to six months in jail and a subsequent six months of home detention. Juthamas had likewise been indicted by the U.S. authorities in absentia, but didn’t stand trial because she was in Thailand. Juthamas and her daughter must present themselves to the OAG within 15 days after the announcement (July 27) to acknowledge the charges or face arrest warrants, according to NACC Secretary-General Sansern Polajiak. The pair are expected to apply for bail pending their trial.

Thailand’s Tony Jaa Goes Scot-Free

In a related development, Thailand movie studio Sahamongkol Film International said in early July that it would drop its civil lawsuit against martial-arts actor Tony Jaa for alleged breach of contract. In September 2013, studio boss Somsak Techaratanaprasert had announced Sahamongkol would sue Jaa for accepting a small role in Hollywood action blockbuster Furious Seven, which he claimed was in breach of contract. The actor had allegedly just renewed his exclusive contract with Sahamongkol for another ten years when the news about his involvement with the foreign movie broke.

At the time, Sahamongkol reportedly demanded THB1.6 billion (about $45 million at today’s exchange rate) plus 7.5 percent interest from the actor. But Jaa rejected the demand, insisting he had done nothing wrong, upon which the studio said it would sue him in court. The reasons why Sahamongkol has now suddenly decided to drop the lawsuit remain murky.

For inquiries and feedback, contact Thomas Schmid at thomas.schmid@filmjournal.com.