Asian cinema has 'Sex and Zen' on the brain

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The big news is Asian film circles this week has been the Thursday release of Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the production -- marketed as the world's first 3D erotic film -- has attracted the kind of attention and cinema support normally reserved for blockbusters.

In Hong Kong the film has opened on an incredible 236 screens and canny cinema operators have added to the sense of expectation with special "women's only" screenings. They have also arranged tours that include tickets to the film for mainland Chinese tourists who, due to its nature and the sensitivities of their censors, will not get a chance to see it back home.

The film stars Japanese porn stars Hara Saori and Suo Yukiko and is based on a 17th century tale of a young man drawn into the sexually depraved life of a royal court.

Prior to the release of Sex and Zen, Hong Kong cinema-goers have been feasting on 3D of a far safer nature, as the Hollywood-produced Rio just edged out local director Johnnie To's rom-com Don't Go Breaking My Heart with US$357,164 (246,199 euros) to US$347,762 (239,707 euros).

To's production -- which stars China's Gao Yuanyuan as a women who has to choose between two Hong Kong suitors (Louis Koo and Daniel Wu) -- fared much better in China, where it ruled the roost, picking up 45.1 million yuan (4.8 million euros) to knock Battle: Los Angeles (26.4 million yuan or 2.8 million euros) off its perch.

Japan meanwhile continues to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the television series Kamen Riders with the latest edition to the film side of the franchise -- OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders - picking up just over US$2 million (1.4 million euros) over the past week. It has now amassed more than US$9 million (6.2 million euros) after two weeks in cinemas.

Watch the Sex and Zen trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8bx73DtNBs

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