Memoirs of a Geisha

Release Date:  December 9, 2005
Production Companies:  Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures,
Spyglass Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, Red Wagon Productions
Distribution:&  nbsp Columbia Pictures/Sony, Buena Vista
International (Japan), Eagle Pictures (Italy), StudioCanal (France)
Language:  English
Rating:  PG-13
Producers:  Lucy Fisher, Doug Wick, Steven Spielberg
Executive Producers:  Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber,
Patricia Whitcher, Bobby Cohen
Director:  Rob Marshall
Cinematography:  Dion Beebe
Screenplay:  Robin Swicord, Doug Wright
Music:  John Williams
Solos:  Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Masayo Ishigure, Karen Han
Production Design:  John Myhre
Costume Design:  Colleen Atwood
Choreographer:  John DeLuca
Editing:  Pietro Scalia
Category:  Drama, Historical
Filming:  September 2004 to January 29 2005
Budget:  US$85-million
Running Time:  114 minutes
Cast:  (in credit order. surnames are in color)
Sayuri .... Zhang Ziyi
The Chairman .... Ken Watanabe
Mameha .... Michelle Yeoh
Hatsumomo .... Gong Li
Nobu Toshikazu .... Koji Yakusho
Pumpkin .... Youki Kudoh
Okiya Mother .... Kaori Momoi
Chiyo .... Suzuka Ohgo
Auntie .... Tsai Chin
The Baron .... Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Dr. Crab .... Randall Duk Kim
Colonel Derricks .... Ted Levine
General .... Kenneth Tsang
Young Pumpkin .... Zoe Weizenbaum
Satsu .... Samantha Futerman
Korin .... Eugenia Yuan
Koichi .... Karl Yune
Granny .... Kotoko Kawamura
Bekku .... Thomas Ikeda
Kitonoyama .... Anthony Begonia

Zhang Ziyi

Michelle Yeoh

Gong Li

Ken Watanabe

Koji Yakusho

Kaori Momoi

Youki Kudoh

Suzuka Ohgo

Cary Tagawa

Tsai Chin

Young Pumpkin
Zoe Weizenbaum


Eugenia Yuan
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Release Dates:
(2005 - 2006)
Dec. 9, exclusive
Dec. 16, limited
Dec. 23, wide

Dec. 10, Japan
Dec. 16, Italy
Jan. 12, Hong Kong
Jan. 13, U.K.
Jan. 13, Taiwan
Jan. 19, Malaysia
Jan. 19, Germany
Jan. 19, Russia
Feb. 2, Korea
Mar. 1, France

Box Office:

Articles / Reviews:
Memoirs Of A Geisha Review (DVD Verdict 04/06)

Nervous censors in China delay release... (The Independent 01/21/06)

Versatile Michelle (The Star 01/16/06)

Set to perfection (The Star 01/10/06)

Wary 'Geisha' crew gussied up California (Hollywood Reporter 12/09/05)

Interviews with Author Arthur Golden and Screenwriter Robin Swicord (About.com 12/04/05)

Action-film smart, 'Geisha' graceful (San Francisco Chronicle 12/04/05)

Where the kimonos are (New York Daily News 12/04/05)

'Memoirs Of A Geisha' brought to life (Toronto Sun 12/04/05)

Columns: Swicord screenplay (Hollywood Reporter 12/02/05)

Geisha team puts controversy behind them for labor of love (Japan today 11/29/05)

Hollywood geisha raise eyebrows in Asia (Reuters 11/28/05)

Great communicators (LA Times 11/27/05)

Memoirs of a Geisha Review (Screen Daily (UK) 11/21/05)

Memoirs of a Geisha Review (Variety 11/20/05)

Memoirs of a Geisha Review (Hollywood Reporter 11/21/05)

Eastern lore, Western allure (LA Times 11/06/05)

Interview with Rob Marshall (BlackFilm 11/18/05)

The Making of a Geisha (Time 11/06/05)

The Delicate Job of Transforming a Geisha (New York Times 11/06/05)

'Geisha' translated for Japan (Variety 09/25/05)

Celebrating geishas in Memoirs of a Geisha (The Star 09/07/05)

Pan-Asian doesn't mean prejudiced (LA Times 03/20/05)

The geisha, in translation (LA Times 03/06/05)

Slanted view of Japan's oldest professionals (Mainichi Japan 02/04/05)

'Memoirs of a Geisha' wraps up filming in Japan (Japan Today 02/01/05)

More reviews

Memoirs News: 
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(11/14/08) Memoirs of a Geisha will be screened on November 21st at 8th International Marrakech Film Festival. It is a part of the special tribute to Michelle, "Timeless Female Heroine". A total of 6 Michelle films will be screened and Michelle will be there to receive the honor. For detailed schedule please see News.

(09/18/06) Memoirs of a Geisha will premiere on North American TV on Saturday, October 7 on Starz. Show times in October: Sat Oct 7 9:00P; Sun Oct 8 9:20A, 5:10P; Tue Oct 10 4:50A, 02:35P; Tue Oct 10 11:00P; Fri Oct 13 3:50A, 11:05A; Thur Oct 19 4:20A, 12:30P, 10:45P; Wed Oct 25 12:35A, 6:30P; Sun Oct 29 9:00P; Mon Oct 30 5:50A, 12:50P.

(07/19/06) Publicity photos of Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi
I found these photos on Chinese blogs. I assume they were taken at about November of 2005.

(07/07/06) Transcript & Audio clip: BBC interview with Michelle prior the U.K. release of Memoirs of a Geisha, January, 2006. Michelle talks about the films and filmmaking.

(07/07/06) The third disk of the 3-disk limited edition of "Sayuri" Japanese DVD contains:
   - Press conference of end filming
   - World premiere in Tokyo
   - Japanese interview of Ken Watanabe
   - Japanese trailer
   - TV-spot commercials
(thanks "Chairman" for information)

(06/16/06) The Japanese DVD (Region 2) of the film, "Sayuri" (Japanese title of the film), is scheduled to be released on July 5th. There will be three editions: a single disk edition, a 2-disk special edition (same features as in the U.S. edition except for the language), and a 3-disk limited edition which will include an exclusive 80 minutes of Japanese material. The film will be available in both Japanese and English.

Apparently there is no Chinese soundtrack available for the film. The Region 3 DVD (for southeast Asia) of Memoirs of a Geisha features language tracks of English and Thai, with subtitles in Chinese, English, Korean, and Thai. The DVD was released in Hong Kong on March 31st and in Taiwan on May 16th.

The European Region 2 DVD was released on June 5th.

The Region 4 DVD (for Australia, South and Central America, etc.) of the film is scheduled to be released on July 20th.

(06/13/06) A Michelle interview with "Metro" (U.K.): 60 SECONDS: Michelle Yeoh. It's brief and in the meantime covers quite a few topics.

(06/09/06) Steven Spielberg was recently interviewed for the 100th episode of AMC's Sunday Morning Shootout. He said a number of years ago, when he was originally attached to direct Memoirs of a Geisha, he wanted to do it with a $10 million budget and entirely in subtitled Japanese. But his idea was not greeted with much enthusiasm at Sony. "No one wanted to make that movie -- even with me," said Spielberg. The first part of the interview will be aired this coming Sunday (June 11th). (Variety)

(05/09/06) On May 11th, 12th, 13th and 16th, the John Williams Spectacular will take place at Boston Symphony Hall, Boston. John Williams will conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra performing music from films such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Munich and Star Wars.

(04/26/06) Discovery Times is airing "Secret World of Geishas", Thursday April 27, 8:00AM, 1:00PM, 4:00PM. "Enter the beautiful and mysterious world, from origin to training."

(04/26/06) Transcript & Audio/video clips: the Q&A session with Michelle Yeoh at the Variety screening of Memoirs of a Geisha, December 5, 2005.

The Q&A audio is 25 minutes long (full transcript is available). Michelle talked about many issues brought up regarding the film. She also described her experience of a real geisha house visit - she went to Japan and spent a week there after she was offered the role. And a Japanese friend said to her: "You know, you're playing Mameha. She is the best geisha... Everyone would look at you, particularly the Japanese culture, would see you and be the most critical of how you played the role." (Thanks Donna for the link to the clips and Dean for the help with the transcript)

(04/06/06) Sony Pictures' DVD site: Memoirs of a Geisha

(03/27/06) DVD Extra videos:
    - Geisha Bootcamp (Liza Dalby teaching Michelle (in the red kimono) and Youki Kudoh to play shamisen)
    - The Look of a Geisha (hair designer talking about Hatsumomo (Gong Li)'s character)
The R1 Memoirs of a Geisha DVD is being released tomorrow.

(03/27/06) Video download: Michelle at "The Late Late Show" with Craig Ferguson
(Dec. 15 2005, 12:43, 20.4MB)
*The clip is in AVI/DIVX format and can be played by Windows Media Player with DivX codec or DivX player. (thanks Dean and BAM for recording and converting the video)

(03/23/06) Six more book covers from the novel in different languages can be seen at the About Memoirs page.

(03/19/06) Selected Memoirs of a Geisha costumes, designed by Oscar winner Colleen Atwood, are being displayed at The 13th annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandizing (FIDM) in Los Angeles through Apr. 23. On the display are more than 100 actual costumes from 26 of last year's major films. Atwood said that although the clothing she designed for the characters is largely based on Victorian attire, she also drew inspiration from ethnic costumes and gothic outfits when preparing the film's wardrobe. (a photo from "Variety")

(03/08/06) Photo of Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi

This photo was taken last November in New York. It appeared in Chinese blogs and I'm not sure where the original source is.

(03/07/06) Dion Beebe, the Oscar winning cinematographer for Memoirs of a Geisha, will join other cinematographers to discuss the evolution of tools of production and post production at the HD EXPO, March 9 Los Angeles.

(03/07/06) More details on the cinema promos for the Memoirs DVD release: the promo is about three minutes long and gives a basic description of the film. Michelle and Ziyi are interviewed, as well as Rob Marshall, John Williams, and other crew members. (thanks Lori)

(03/05/06) Three Academy Awards for Memoirs of a Geisha: John Myhre (art direction), Dion Beebe (cinematography), and Colleen Atwood (costume design). Congratulations! Actress Ziyi Zhang appeared at the ceremony as a presenter for film editing.

(03/03/06) Michelle Yeoh Interview from "PhilStar": From Kung Fu to Kimono, by Ricky Lo. (Interviewed in late 2005. published Feb 19, 2006)

(03/01/06) Exclusive at iTunes: John Williams and Yo-Yo Ma recorded three piano-and-cello highlights from the soundtrack of Memoirs of a Geisha. You can download the whole session. (thanks Dean)

(02/27/06) Cinemas have started running the promos for the DVD release of Memoirs of a Geisha on the "First Look" commercials before some PG-13 and R films. It should run until the Friday after the DVD is released (March 28). (thanks Lori)

(02/27/06) Fan posters - thanks Johnny K. of Shanghai!

View or download the large versions of the posters of Michelle and Gong Li.

(02/21/06) Two video clips from the TV talk shows on the film promotion: Michelle at the "Sunday Morning Shootout" on February 12 and "Tavis Smiley" on December 12.
      * AMC "Sunday Morning Shootout" (10:45)  Download (23MB)
      * PBS "Tavis_Smiley" (11:23)  Download (23MB)

Clips are in AVI/DIVX format and can be played by Windows Media Player with DivX codec or DivX player. (thanks Dean and BAM for recording and converting the video!)

(02/21/06) Memoirs of a Geisha received three BAFTA awards: film music, cinematography, and costume design.

(02/16/06) Photos from France Premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha, UGC Normandie on Champs Elysees, Paris, Feb. 16.

(02/14/06) There will be two versions of Memoirs of a Geisha DVD - both to be released on March 28 : 2-disk widescreen edition and 2-disk fullscreen edition. Pre-order is available at Amazon.

(02/14/06) Memoirs of a Geisha is now playing at only 287 theatres across North America. Six Oscar nominations didn't seem to bring a boost to the domestic box office, which is $56 million. Meanwhile it was in the second B.O. slot in 29 territories overseas last weekend, bringing in a foreign total of $62 million up to date.

A week ago Memoirs launched in South Korean, finishing third with $2.5 million.

(02/07/06) Michelle will appear as a special guest at the "Sunday Morning Shootout" this coming Sunday, February 12, AMC, 11:00AM.

(02/06/06) Memoirs of a Geisha DVD featurettes and cover picture. The two-disc set is said to be arriving on March 28.

(02/03/06) Composer John Williams and cellist Yo-Yo Ma will make a rare appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Monday, Feb. 6th, performing live "Sayuri's Theme". John Williams was nominated for the Oscars for both Memoirs of a Geisha and Munich this year, representing his 44th and 45th Oscar nominations. (Press Release)

(02/02/06) Another Korean poster. The film opened today in Korea.

(02/02/06) It is unconfirmed, but several movie/video websites are saying that the R1 DVD of Memoirs of a Geisha is set for release on March 28.

(02/02/06) In an interview with Colleen Atwood, the Oscar nominated costume designer for Memoirs (who is a four time Oscar nominee and the winner for Chicago), Atwood said they made in total about 150 kimonos for the three main leads and each of them had about 30 to 40 costume changes. She said they made a modification of the kimono and did a lot of shortcuts with the obi, so the normal 45 minutes dressing up with those 30 or 40 pound obis were reduced to 20 minutes during film making.

(02/02/06) International box office: in Europe, Memoirs of a Geisha has been the no.1 box office film in Spain for two consecutive weekends, having grossed $5.8 million at 200+ theatres. It increased from no.3 to no.2 at the second weekend in Russia and dropped from no.2 to no.4 in Germany. Memoirs is to be released in France March 1st.

In Malaysia, Michelle's homeland, Memoirs of a Geisha ranked no. 1 at its first week run. The foreign total has passed $47 million (the current domestic box is $54 million).

The news of Chinese officials' cancellation to Memoirs has been all over internet. I've been to several Chinese blogs and had a look. A Chinese fan of Michelle Yeoh signed: "Now I'm forced to go to see a pirated version." Many others said they don't care since they have already watched it (on pirated sources). More links for free downloading are appearing in the blogs.

Is it a big financial loss for the U.S. producers of Memoirs by losing the mainland China market? Here are some clues - a "hit" film can gross US$20 to $30+ million in the mainland Chinese market. (Chen Kaige's The Promise grossed US$9.2 million last December on its opening weekend only.) A normal movie ticket for adult in the major cities of mainland China costs US$4 - $8.

(01/31/06) According to the New York Times, officials at Sony said they were notified early this week of the cancellation of the showing Memoirs of a Geisha in mainland China, which was scheduled in February previously. China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television canceled the scheduled film release after reviewing the Chinese script of "Memoirs of a Geisha," overturning an earlier decision to approve the film. A spokesman for Sony Pictures in Los Angeles is quoted saying: "We were pleased by their acceptance of the film in November, and we're disappointed by this decision."

The article said film industry officials who were briefed on the government's decision said the Chinese officials expressed concern that the public might react negatively to a movie featuring China's best-known actresses as geisha, whom many Chinese consider to be prostitutes. From other Chinese sources, this anti-Japanese sentiment is only one of the reasons. Apparently the decision is also largely due to the fact that pirated versions have been on sale everywhere in China, and the reviews have not been that good either. Not many theatres in China are all that interested in showing the film anymore.

(01/31/06) Academy Award nominations for Memoirs of a Geisha: art direction, cinematography, costume, original score, sound mixing, sound editing.

(01/26/06) A Russian poster. The film was released in Russia last weekend. Also a new header pic for the sub-sections of this page.

(01/23/06) With a moderate performance for the domestic box office (totally $51 million in the six week run), Sony has started to drop the number of theatres showing the film. Meanwhile in the overseas market, it expanded from 10 to 22 territories. At the weekend international box office, Memoirs of a Geisha led in its Spanish launch with $2.6 million at 206 theatres and in Australia with $2 million at 200, in Singapore with $550,000 at 36 and in Malaysia with $255,000 at 33. It finished fourth in the U.K. with $1.8 million at 278 theatres.

Spyglass, which owns the foreign Geisha rights, reported foreign totals as $34.5 million, including $12 million from its six-week Japanese run. With its foreign expansion over the next few weeks, it looks like the overseas total will top the domestic.

In Hong Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha dropped to third during the second weekend with a total gross of $563,406. In Taiwan, Memoirs of a Geisha has made $750,562 and the weekend box ranking was topped by the newly released Brokeback Mountain.

In mainland China the situation remains unclear. According to a "Variety" report from a week ago, a Sony exec in Los Angeles said the Chinese censors had asked a few seconds of footage be cut from the film. The problem with the sex scene in question is not because it has too much exposure, but because the scene involves a Chinese woman and a Japanese man, which may remind the painful history to some Chinese. The latest media buzzing says that Chinese officials may ban the film in Mainland China.

(01/20/06) Memoirs of a Geisha International TV special: Making of Memoirs of a Geisha
      Watch online (use Internet Explorer. It may not work well with Mozilla/Netscape)
      Download (37MB)

14:53. In English. Filmmakers and actors talk about the filming, and some interesting behind the scenes shots. ("Sina" exclusive video by Columbia Pictures.)

(01/18/06) More reports on the box office: Memoirs of a Geisha grossed US$2 million in the U.K. last weekend with 241 theatres, ranking at no. 6. The weekend gross in Taiwan is $256,243. As of January 16, Memoirs of a Geisha has made $68 million globally. The film opens in Malaysia and Singapore January 19th.

(01/18/06) In Posters: the official international poster and some "For Your Consideration" Oscar ADs.

(01/17/06) Updates on the release of Memoirs of a Geisha in China - In the Mainland, after the film got an approval from SARFT (the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television) last year, the distributor of the film in Mainland, China Film Group Corp., started to work on a translation of the script. The translation was done and handed to SARFT early this month. No word from the SARFT officials since. The distribution company had to halt the plan for the dubbing until they get an official word. With all the rumors floating around, the officials from the SARFT had no comment on the matter, leaving media and audience in the dark (which is quite typical with Chinese officials).

Memoirs of a Geisha was ranked no. 1 at the box office last weekend in Hong Kong. Grossed a total of $299,224 in four days, local newspapers said it was not a strong opening.

According to Taiwanese newspapers, the film got the no.1 box office at Taipei city, Taiwan.

In Italy, Memoirs of a Geisha dropped to no.9 at the box office, with a total gross to date $4.6 million in the country.

In the U.S., Memoirs of a Geisha fell out of top ten despite Sony's effort in keeping expanding the film to more theatres. The total domestic gross up to date is $47.6 million.

(01/17/06) John Williams won Best Original Score in a Motion Picture for Memoirs of a Geisha at the Golden Globe Awards. Congratulations! On another note, Taiwanese director Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain won four awards - including Best Director and Best Motion Picture.

(01/16/06) Michelle may not attend the Golden Globe awards tonight. I'm not really sure at this moment. On the one hand, the Hong Kong media have already listed her seat/table number (along with other Chinese Golden Globe attendees') for tonight. But another source (considered reliable) told me she will not attend the ceremony. Zhang Ziyi has been in Los Angeles for several days and will be there tonight.

(01/14/06) According to Taiwan and Hong Kong media, Michelle has been invited as a presenter at the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards, which will take place at The Beverly Hilton and to be telecast live on NBC Monday January 16 (8 - 11:00 p.m. EST). Taiwanese reporters interviewed Michelle, who's in L.A. at the moment, over the phone. There will be quite a few Chinese names on the awards ceremony - nominees include Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Zhang Ziyi (Memoirs of a Geisha), Chen Kaige's The Promise and Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle. Michelle laughed when a reporter said that among all those Chinese names, she is the only one who definitely will appear on the stage.

Taiwan newspaper "UDN" said this honor shows a recognition by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of Michelle's outstanding performance in Memoirs of a Geisha. Her role in the film may not be so big that earns her an award, but her performance is so exquisite that even Japanese praised her.

To thank the celebrity presenters, this year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association provides each presenter with a Gift Bag which values even more than the gifts to the nominees. "I can travel to the South Pole, then to the North Pole," Michelle laughed, "isn't that wonderful?"

(01/14/06) Photos from the U.K. premiere in London, including one picture of Tsai Chin, who plays Auntie. I didn't know besides Michelle (who was the Bond girl in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies), there is another cast member of Memoirs who appeared in a Bond film - Tsai Chin was in 1967's You Only Live Twice with Sean Connery!

(01/13/06) More news from China indicated that Memoirs of a Geisha is facing an uncertain fate in the Mainland China. There is little chance the film can be shown before March (the previously reported release date was February 9). The name of Memoirs did not appear on the February film list that China Film Group Corporation just released.

(01/13/06) Apparently, not all the pirated versions of Memoirs of a Geisha circulating in China (and not only in China in fact) were secretly shot in theatres. There are high-quality versions available as well, which was reportedly leaked from the DVDs which were given to Academy members or others to preview.
      "Slate Magazine": Memoirs of a Free Geisha

Some of you may not knew this story: in 2002 when Michelle Yeoh's The Touch opened in China, the source of the pirated DVD/VCD was actually from the copy the film company sent to Chinese officials for approval, which was not even the final version (but with high quality images).

(01/12/06) U.K. reports on the London premiere:
      "Empire": Memoirs premiere kicks off in London
      "The Sun": Geisha comes to London

(01/12/06) In Interviews: "Empire"'s interviews with Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, and Rob Marshall. Conducted in late November last year in London.

(01/11/06) Have you seen this? MAD TV - Memoirs of a Geisha (!)

(01/11/06) Photos: Michelle and director Rob Marshall arriving at the UK Premiere at the Curzon Mayfair cinema on January 11th in London, England (More photos coming up).

Besides Michelle, another star from Memoirs who showed up at the premiere is actress Tsai Chin, who plays Auntie.

(01/11/06) In Posters: there is a Japanese word describing the character on each of the Japanese cast posters - thanks "Chairman" for the help in translating some of the words. I haven't got a high quality picture for Sayuri's poster, sorry. Also new Hong Kong and Taiwan official posters of the film.

(01/10/06) If anyone wondered where the final scene of the film was filmed, it is at the Chinese Garden in The Huntington Library. We reported that they filmed a cherry blossom festival scene at the Japanese Garden inside the Library in October 2004. The ending scene was filmed at the Summer Garden of the Chinese Garden, which has been under constructions since 1999 and will blend seamlessly with the Japanese Garden - its neighbor to the south - when completed.

(01/10/06) A charity premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha took place on Jan. 9 in Hong Kong. Reporters interviewed a couple of local celebrities at the show. They said they were interested to see the performances from the three main Chinese leads. The funds raised at the event will go to the charity Operation Smile.

(01/09/06) The latest news/rumor from Mainland China about the release of Memoirs of a Geisha says that it is uncertain whether the film is going to be shown on the big screen after all. Several newspapers reported that "China Film Group Corporation", the company that is in charge of importing this film, said there is nothing they can tell the press. The China State Film Bureau refused the interview requests on the matter.

This makes the situation worse. With no fixed release date, whoever is interested in the film will now surly turn to pirated versions and would not wait for the uncertain release date, even if it may still get released.

Now the pirated versions of DVD of the film are not only being sold on the streets in Mainland China, they are also available in some video stores in some cities.

(01/09/06) Taiwanese premiere was held on Jan. 9 in Taipei. With no film star from Memoirs of a Geisha attending, the film distributor invited Liu Zhen, a well-known Taiwanese dancer, as the main guest of the premiere. Miss Liu made an almost-real imitation of Zhang Ziyi's Sayuri. She dressed in a kimono, put on blue/gray contact lenses, and danced Sayuri's snow dance in high shoes. To make the scene look real, they even got snow machines and made artificial snow on the stage. Liu Zhen preformed the entire dance and according to the reports, she danced it almost percisely the same way as shown in the film (she learned this piece of dance by watching the film). The only difference was her shoes are a little bit lower than what shown in the film (since Liu was doing a true stage performance). A graduate from Taiwan National Chengchi University, Department of Russian, 30 year old Liu Zhen is known as the Ballroom Dance Queen in Taiwan.

Photos from the premiere in Taiwan

(01/06/06) Looks like the film companies should not put too much hope on the box-office of Memoirs of a Geisha in Asia. As reported, the film received only lukewarm reception in Japan on the opening weekend (Dec. 10, with 341 theatres) after HEAVY promotions. The number of theatres showing the film, as well as the box figure, has been dropping every week.

Despite the media in Taiwan and Malaysia (where Michelle is from) showing good interest in the film, the film company has decided not to arrange any actors to attend the premieres in either place. The Chinese premiere is scheduled to take place in Hong Kong on the 9th. According to the original reports it was planned to be a big event. But now it seems to be turning low-key. Michelle is confirmed not to attend. The film is opening on the 12th in Hong Kong but there is barely any advertising, and the fate of the film in Mainland China is not optimistic either. It is scheduled to open on Feb. 9th but the scale of the release is unknown at this moment. With the non-favorable reviews and pirated DVD and internet download versions of the film already in Mainland China, I guess it is reasonable not to put too much hope there. And I'm not even getting into the sensitive and complicated topics on the relationship between China and Japan (plus the background of the story is set around the war time), or the "mysterious" (to many westerners) issue on the popularity of a certain lead in Mainland and Hong Kong.

On the other hand, in Italy, the number of theatres showing the film has been increasing for the past three weekends (from 156 to 172). The British seems to love the film. BAFTA, the British equivalent of the Oscars, has put 15 entries from Memoirs of a Geisha on the longlists after the first round of voting, in all major categories including BOTH Michelle and Gong Li for supporting actress and Ken Watanabe for SUPPORTING actor, making it the most nominated film in the longlists for the British Academy Film Awards this year. The five nominees are selected from the longlists in the second voting round, which closes Jan. 12. Memoirs of a Geisha opens in the U.K. on Jan. 13 and the London premiere is on the 11th.

(01/04/06) According to Sony Taiwan's news release, Michelle and Ken Watanabe will attend the premiere in London next week.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese reports said no actors from the film will attend the Taiwanese premiere, which will be held on January 9th at Taipei's LUX Cinema. Instead, there will be a local dancer preforming Sayuri's "geisha" dance from the film. Columbia Taiwan had tried hard to invite Zhang Ziyi, Michelle, and/or Gong Li to attend but none of them are able to due to their busy schedules. It is interesting that since the production of Memoirs of a Geisha started, Taiwanese media has shown much more enthusiasm to the film than Hong Kong's and Mainland China's, although there is no Taiwanese actor who appears as any of the main characters in the film.

(01/03/06) HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm back from my two-week Alpine snow vacation. Now some updates:

- The U.K. premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha is scheduled on January 11th, at the Curzon Cinema, Herford Street, London. (thanks Louise)

- Japanese cast posters

- Memoirs of a Geisha is selected by Time Magazine as one of the 10 best films of 2005.

- Although Memoirs of a Geisha is not scheduled for release until Feb. 9 in Mainland China, pirated DVD versions of the film were already being sold on the streets since late December. There are also online versions from the internet. From the viewers' comments at Chinese discussion forums I've seen, many of them expressed their disappointment about the film. Almost no one said they liked the story. Chinese fans of both Gong Li's and Michelle's complained about the roles of their idols are too small, while some fans of Zhang Ziyi complained her role is too flat. The film photo book and the new translation of the novel have all been released in China.

(12/19/05) Although the film won't open in the rest of Asia (other than Japan) until the middle of next month, film promotions have already been started. Over the weekend, Japanese star Aisa Senda, together with more than ten female dancers, performed Michelle and Zhang Ziyi's fan dance from the film on Taipei streets. In mainland China, DragonTV is broadcasting the interviews of Michelle and Zhang Ziyi when Ms. Yang Lan, a famous TV host in China, interviewed them in New York in November (a new photo is added at Photos from New York Press Meetings). The new Chinese translation of the novel will be published later this month and the book will include more than 20 images from the film.

(12/18/05) A half-hour behind-the-scenes and on-the-set special on Memoirs of a Geisha will be on tomorrow's (Monday) A&E, 10:30PM/9:30C.

(12/16/05) Photo: John DeLuca (choreographer), Zhang Ziyi, and Rob Marshall at the European premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha, Milan, Italy. The film opens in Italy today.

(12/15/05) In News & Production Photos: photos of Michelle, some cast and crew members, and other guests at the world premiere in Japan (Nov. 29) and the U.S. premiere in Los Angeles (Dec. 4).

(12/14/05) The European premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha will be held on December 15th at the Armani Theatre, Milan, Italy. Director Rob Marshall, Arthur Golden, author of the novel, and actress Zhang Ziyi are scheduled to attend.

(12/14/05) Video: Michelle on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Dec. 6)

(12/13/05) [Note] Michelle will be a guest on CBS's "The Late Late Show" Thursday December 15 (not Wednesday the 14th as previously mentioneded).

(12/13/05) According to various news reports, Memoirs of a Geisha's debut in Japan received lukewarm reception on its opening weekend. Grossed $1.5 million from 341 screens, it was ranked no. 4 at the box office.

(12/13/05) Starz is showing a special, "On the set: Memoirs of a Geisha," today at 6:40-6:54PM. It will be repeated at 11:10AM Wednesday and 1:50PM Thursday (click "schedule" at the Starz page to find out your local show times).

Michelle was on PBS's "Tavis Smiley" last night. You may still catch a re-run. Also Michelle and Zhang Ziyi appeared together at NBC's "Today Show" last week. You can see a video clip of the show in the above link (scroll to the middle of the page). (thanks reiko for the info)

(12/13/05) Memoirs of a Geisha was nominated in two categories at the annual Golden Globe Awards: Ziyi Zhang (actress, drama) and John Williams (original score). Congratulations!

(12/12/05) The actual box-office for Memoirs of a Geisha over the weekend is $682,504 with average $85,313 per theatre. The film is expected to be expanding on the coming Friday to the top 15 North America markets - New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, San Diego, Vancouver and Montreal, and reaching 1,000-plus theatres nationwide on Dec. 23. It may continue to expand through the awards season.

(12/11/05) Opened in a total of 8 theatres in North America, the estimated weekend box-office (based on Friday and Saturday's figures) for Memoirs of a Geisha is $674,000 with an average of $84,250 per theatre. This is a better figure than what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did at its opening weekend in year 2000 (guess we should not compare the two, since CTHD is a foreign language film with a production budget about $17 million). Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, which opened in 5 theatres this weekend, has an estimate per-theatre average $109,000.

(12/10/05) Michelle is scheduled to appear on CBS's "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" on Wednesday December 14. And "The Daily Show" will show a re-run of Michelle with Jon Stewart on Monday December 19.

(12/10/05) Finally, I watched Memoirs of a Geisha! Due to my busy work schedule and a holiday party that I had to attend, I didn't make to any of the screenings on Friday. This morning I went to the 11:00AM screening at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood, where Michelle attended the Variety screening a few days ago. In the entrance hall there displays some props which were used in the actual filming - two kimonos (they look awfully heavy to me, by the way), three folding fans, an umbrella, a paper lantern, and several drinking cups. The theatre shows the film on three screens and the box office showed several evening screenings were already sold out. The morning show I went to, with 700+ seats, was less than half full. Audience was very quiet during the entire screening, with a couple of (not very loud) laughs at some funny scenes/dialogs. I read that at an earlier screening audience gave big applauses when every actor's name shown at the end credit, but it didn't happen at the show I attended.

I don't intend to publish my review to the film, nor my comments about the performances. I think that for readers of this page, most of you are either fans of certain actor(s) or fans of the novel. You are bound to go see this film. Do I recommend this film? Yes I think so. But don't try to look for authenticity. Enjoy it as a piece of art work.

Last but not the least - a word for Michelle fans: it's your chance to see her on big screen once more and you know you will never be disappointed with the performance from the Great Michelle Yeoh.

(12/09/05) The film opened today at the selected theatres in the U.S. and Canada. Five theatres in the Los Angeles area have it this weekend and the earliest screening was at 12:01AM. You can find many reviews now on the internet. [updated 12/10] Yesterday Moviefone showed five theatres in L.A. will play the film but today it showed three.

(12/09/05) Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio is preparing to put together the Chinese Mandarin dubbed version of Memoirs of a Geisha, which will debut in the Mainland China on February 9th. Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li are expected to dub their parts themselves.

In Mainland China, all wide released films (and TV series) are dubbed into Mandarin if not already made in the language. Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio is a top studio for the work. According to Chinese media reports, the biggest difficulty the studio is facing, concerning Memoirs of a Geisha, is how to translate the script into Chinese. "It is American's understanding of Japanese culture," a person from the dubbing studio is quoted saying, "we have been discussing whether we should keep its American style, or make it more Japanese." They have not fixed the person who will be doing the translation.

Meanwhile, a new Chinese translation of the novel will be published in Mainland China this month (in simplified Chinese). The first print will have about 50,000 copies. It is said the existing Chinese translated version has many mistakes and its printing rights have expired.

(12/08/05) It seems that Sony decided to release the film on Dec. 9 in more theatres than originally stated at the official site. You may check Moviefone for the nearest theatre to you.

(12/08/05) This Saturday's Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper Review on ABC will feature Memoirs of a Geisha. (thanks RinRinEva)

(12/08/05) The premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha in New York City was held on the evening of December 6 at the Ziegfield Theatre. The after party (The New York Times has a funny report on it) followed at the Central Park Boathouse. The actors in attendance included: Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, Youki Kudoh, Ken Watanabe, Kaori Momoi, Zoe Weizenbaum, and Samantha Futerman. Director Rob Marshall and producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher also attended the event.

Photos from the New York Premiere

(12/07/05) Michelle will appear as a guest on ABC's "The View" tomorrow, Thursday December 8, 11:00AM.

(12/07/05) Video clips:
1. The world premiere in Japan:
       Windows Media streaming   [8:15]
       Very interesting clip. Recommended. (thanks "Chairman")
2. Interviews with Zhang Ziyi, Michelle, and Youki Kudoh from the L.A. premiere:
       Windows Media. Play or Download   [3:56] 9.96MB
       (from About.com: "Memoirs of a Geisha" Hollywood Premiere Coverage)

(12/07/05) Interviews with TeenHollywood.com:
    Michelle Yeoh: Making Memories
    Ziyi Zhang: Memoirs of a Film Star

Photos from the press interview

(12/06/05) On December 5, Michelle attended the Variety screening of Memoirs of a Geisha at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood and participated the Q&A session.

Photos from the Variety screening

(12/06/05) Michelle will be (Tuesday)'s guest of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show". Channel varies. Check your local cable schedule. 11:00p/10:00c. (thanks Lori) Re-run Wednesday 8p.

      As for tomorrow's "The View" on ABC, Michelle and Zhang Ziyi are listed as guests on some TV listings but they are not listed at "The View" site. So I'm not sure if they will be on the show.

(12/06/05) Information on the Soundtrack. (thanks Frenda for picture scans)

(12/05/05) The U.S. premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood was attended by producers Steven Spielberg, Lucy Fisher, Doug Wick, director Rob Marshall, Robin Swicord (screenplay), John DeLuca (choreographer), Amy Pascal (Sony Pictures' chairman), Howard Stringer (Sony USA chairman Howard Stringer), Arthur Golden (author of the novel), as well as cast members including Michelle, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi, Youki Kudoh, Kaori Momoi, Koji Yakusho, Cary Tagawa (Baron), Tsai Chin (Auntie), Zoe Weizenbaum (young Pumpkin), Eugenia Yuan (Korin), Samantha Futerman (Satsu), and Karl Yune (Koichi). The red carpet started at 6:00PM, and the after-party lasted to 2:00AM.

Photos from the U.S. premiere in L.A.

(12/03/05) Premiere highlights: Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh, Kaori Momoi, Tsai Chin (plays Auntie), Cary Tagawa (Baron), Mako (Sakamoto), Zoe Weizenbaum (young Pumpkin), director Rob Marshall and producer Steven Spielberg will attend. (Press Release))

(12/01/05) The U.S. premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha will be held on Sunday, December 4, at the Kodak Theater of Hollywood. The premiere will be at 7:00PM and the red carpet will start at 6:00PM.

(12/01/05) During the promotion of Memoirs of a Geisha in Japan, Michelle accepted some media interviews. (for interview photos please see News) Since Michelle's character, Mameha, is the epitome of the geisha, a supermodel of supermodels, she had to do everything the best. To ensure all her movements look convincingly like a geisha's, even at home she was wearing kimono and kneeling on the floor instead of sitting in the comfortable sofa. In order to get the elegant geisha way of walking, she would practice walking while gripping a piece of paper between her thighs and find the right rhythm.

Earlier reports from the production said all main actresses had been training to play the shamisen so they could appear on screen convincingly. Among them, Michelle really did learn to play the instrument.

A Taiwanese newspaper quoted Japanese media saying that every look in Mameha's eyes, and every little movement from her fingertip, all show a great performance from the film.

About 3000 people attended the premiere in Japan at the sumo stadium. Reportedly there was a standing ovation after the screening and the actresses were in tears of joy.

(12/01/05) Video clips from the world premiere in Japan:

1. Red Carpet [3:39] (Sina, China)
       Windows Media streaming
       (in English, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese)
2. Red Carpet and premiere ceremony [11:49] (Goo, Japan)
       Realmedia streaming   Windows Media streaming
       (in Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese)

The two video clips show different portions of the red carpet. In the second one, unfortunately all English parts are cut off. So you don't hear Michelle talking in English instead, they kept a short interview of hers in Cantonese. (thanks "Chairman" for the second clip)

(11/30/05) I have re-written the report for the news conference on 11/28. My original report was mainly based on different versions of Chinese news. Thanks to "Chairman", a Japanese Ken Watanabe fan, who kindly provided me an hour and 22 minutes long video of the conference. I'd love to quote more from Ken-san and other Japanese actors but unfortunately my Japanese is too limited.

(11/29/05) Video: press conference in Japan, Nov. 28   (04:44)
(Note: the embedded video seems only working with IE but not Mozilla)

(11/29/05) The world premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha was held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo on November 29th.

Photos from the world premiere in Tokyo

(11/28/05) The premiere in New York is set at Tuesday December 6 at Ziegfeld, according to the "BaltimoreSun". Also the December 6 broadcast of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" is currently scheduled to include a segment with Michelle. (thanks Marla of AdmiringGongLi.com)

(11/28/05) Photos from the Japanese press conference

[re-written on 11/30] The Memoirs of a Geisha Japanese news conference was held at the Imperial Hotel of Tokyo on November 28th. More than 700 media attended the event ahead of the world premiere at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena on Tuesday night.

Packed with at least 70 video cameras and 250 photo cameras, the press conference lasted about an hour and half. Greeted with big applause, Rob Marshall, Kaori Momoi, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh, and little Suzuka Ohgo entered the conference hall one by one. They spoke to the media and answered questions from the reporters. The news conference was held in Japanese, with the organizer and all Japanese actors speaking Japanese. Rob Marshall, Michelle, and Zhang Ziyi each had an interpreter sitting behind them. They mainly spoke in English, while Zhang Ziyi answered one of the questions in Chinese and Michelle threw in a few sentences in Japanese.

"I think there are many misperceptions about what geisha are, especially in the West," said director Rob Marshall. "I hope this film helps to clear that up."

Talking about Sayuri and the Chairman's long lasting romance, reporters asked the actors' opinions on their views of love. Japanese actress Kaori Momoi said the story reflects Japanese women's view of their love and fates. Youki Kudoh, who once had a failed marriage, said: "I want such a love!" Zhang Ziyi said: "I think for me, if I fall in love with somebody, I couldn't wait for 10 years so I'd just tell him straight away." And for Michelle: "I think as a modern woman, we're very very lucky nowadays where we are free to love. It would be so fortunate to be able to find such all consuming, such passion, and such amazing love that you'd want to travel to the ends of the world for."

Then a reporter addressed a question to Michelle asking what she would do if her lover turned to love someone else. During the questioning Michelle made a snapping motion like she's twisting/breaking something, and then a funny gesture of strangling someone around the neck. "To be honest, if my man was to do something like that, I'd very quickly let him go. If he does not know how to appreciate me, he doesn't deserve to be with me," answered Michelle. "I won't kill him - it's too easy." The reporters in the hall laughed and stirred up at this bit.

Michelle also talked about their six weeks of geisha training. "In six weeks we were trying to learn what geisha spend their entire lives perfecting." said Michelle, "For us - Ziyi, myself and Gong Li - we tried our very best, we paid the ultimate respect to a culture that we were learning day by day. I think it was important for us to have had Mother, Ken, Koji, Youki, and also little Suzuka to remind us constantly, to keep an eye on us. When we bowed, when we knelt, when we were walking...to make sure we were doing it properly. I hope that all of you, when you watch it, will understand - will see - we have done these roles with love and passion. And please forgive us if we did anything wrong."

Rob Marshall highly praised all of his cast and commented on each of the main actors individually. He said Michelle is "extraordinary on every level because she is so beautiful, she's so warm, so elegant, so wise, so sexy, and so funny with a great sense of humor." He continued: "Ken (Watanabe) already said she is a great leader, and it's true on every level."

(Rob Marshall's comments on other actors will come later. Keep tuned.)

(11/27/05) Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, and director Rob Marshall have arrived in Tokyo. A press conference will be held on the 28th and the world premiere will take place on the 29th, Tokyo, Japan.

(11/27/05) "Dark Horizons" has some interviews from New York:
   Michelle Yeoh Interview
   Zhang Ziyi Interview
   Gong Li Interview

(11/26/05) Michelle will be on ABC's "The View", Wednesday December 7, along with Zhang Ziyi.

(11/26/05) Korean poster (thanks Richard). Memoirs opens in Korea on January 13th.

(11/26/05) Japanese Official Site has launched. Nothing really new though.

(11/26/05) "LA Times" published an article (see link at left) about the language difficulties the filmmakers had faced. It required a lot of hard work from the actors as well as some high-tech editing tricks to polish. (thanks Michael and Chris)

(11/24/05) Seven new video clips from the film are published by Buena Vista:
     1. "We All Stumble"   2. "Your Offer"   3. "Formal Training"   4. "You Will Be Known as Sayuri"
     5. "The Lesson of the Cherry Blossom"   6. "I Have Given You My Life"   7. "I Want a Life that is Mine"

(11/23/05) Chinese media reported that the China State Film Bureau has given an OK for the film to be released in Mainland China. But the opening date may have to be postponed from January 12th to February 10th; and the Beijing premiere which was scheduled on January 9th is to be moved to Hong Kong.

(11/23/05) Taiwanese poster.

(11/23/05) Video: Making of Memoirs of a Geisha   [5:12 windows Media]
    Play online (Sina)
    Download (right click. 10MB)

It contains short interviews with Rob Marshall, Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, and Michelle. Also some behind scenes shots and longer sequences from the film such as the cherry blossom festival and fan dance of Michelle and Zhang Ziyi. In English.

Photos: Michelle at interview

(11/21/05) The press activites for Memoirs of a Geisha lasted three days, from the 18th to the 20th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York.

Photos: Michelle, Ken Watanabe, Zhang Ziyi at the New York press

Taiwanese media reported about the event on the 20th. According to their reports, eight cast and crew members, including Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Kaori Momoi, Doug Wick (producer), and director Rob Marshall, were arranged to meet with the press, each given 20 minutes to answer questions from the reporters. (Gong Li left New York on the 19th and was unable to attend.)

Ken Watanabe did not like the food on the set so he often cooked himself and invited Michelle, Gong Li, and Zhang Ziyi to enjoy his Japanese dishes. During the film shooting Ken became a good friend of Michelle's and he often jokes with her. He thinks Gong Li is kind of "mysterious". He said there was often loud rock'n'roll music coming from Gong Li's trailer. Later Gong Li told him that she needed it to help herself to get into her character. Ken said he's shocked that Zhang Ziyi eats all the time whenever not shooting but surprisingly she doesn't gain weight.

Michelle joked the geisha training they experienced was like "torturing". With those tall shoes one falls often. Kimono are so heavy that it's hard to lift arms. Everyone on the set who's dressed in a kimono tried not to drink since it would be such a hassle to use restroom and would make everyone wait. Michelle also answered reporters' question on Maggie Cheung's withdrawal from the project. She said Maggie was too busy. When Michelle got the role, the first person who congratulated her was in fact Maggie.

Zhang Ziyi said for the past two years regardless how busy she was, she always had her English tutor with her and spent at least two hours per day to study English. Her hard work paid off - although she still had to use simple words and occasionally had trouble in understanding others, she did not use translator during the press interview.

Asked how she thinks about Chinese actresses playing Japanese geisha, Japanese actress Kaori Momoi (who plays Mother) said this is an international film and not a Japanese film. Mixing actors from different culture backgrounds is like culture mixing and should have positive effect in film making.

(11/21/05) Italian Official Site is up at Eagle Pictures', who is the distributor of the film in Italy. The film opens in Italy on December 16th.

(11/20/05) In the review on "Variety", it says the film narration was done by Shizuko Hoshi (And the Soul Shall Dance, MASH), who is a graduate of Tokyo Women's College and USC. "A thoughtful, old-fashioned touch in the end credits matches the performers' names with their images," said the review.

(11/20/05) In case if you wondered who the actress is in this picture (left) (which is used as one of the background pics at the official site as well as Photostamps), the answer is: it is Michelle's Mameha, walking on a snowy day.

Photos: Mameha on a snowy day

(11/19/05) The three main female leads (Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, and Gong Li) gathered together in the Waldorf Astoria, New York on the 18th. They met with reporters and accepted interviews. Sony also arranged photo sessions for photographers to take photos for the upcoming promotion.

(11/18/05) Seven more book covers in different languages have been added in About Memoirs section.

(11/18/05) A Chinese version of the photobook of Memoirs of a Geisha will be published in mainland China on December 15th.

(11/17/05) Sony published a domestic release chart: exclusive release on Dec. 9 in seven theatres (three in New York, two in Los Angeles, one in San Francisco, and one in Toronto); limited release in fifteen cities on Dec. 16; and nationwide release on Dec. 23. See the release date for your city at Domestic Release. Film running time: 144 minutes.

(11/17/05) Under the title "Sayuri", Memoirs of a Geisha will be released in Japan in two versions - English with Japanese subtitles, and Japanese dubbed.

(11/17/05) Italian poster. The film opens in Italy on December 16th.

(11/16/05) According to Taiwanese media, a press screening (and press conference?) in New York will be held on Saturday November 19th. Zhang Ziyi has already arrived in New York. Gong Li may not be able to make it due to the busy filming of Miami Vice (her agent is still trying). Michelle will be attending but there is no conformation whether she has already left the Sunshine filming set in London. A source indicated that other people who are scheduled to attend the roundtable are Ken Watanabe, Kaori Momoi, Lucy Fisher (producer), Doug Wick (producer), Robin Swicord (writer), and director Rob Marshall.

(11/16/05) The trailer that was aired on Monday's NBC Medium is a new one. Most of the scenes are the same as in the two trailers we have seen but there are also some interesting new shots.
     Download trailer (1 minute. AVI 8MB)   (Helloziyi.us)

(11/16/05) Two film stills from the war time. It looks like an extension from the book.

Larger version of the photos we have seen from Moviesonline.ca can be viewed at Latino Review. Here are a large portrait of Mameha and Mameha's first scene.

(11/16/05) According to "The Mercury News", Memoirs opens in the San Francisco Bay Area on December 16th.

(11/15/05) The release date of the film in U.K. is scheduled at January 13. Buena Vista will have an exclusive screening on Thursday November 17th in central London.

The Cleveland Museum will have a special advance screening on December 7. The film won't open in Cleveland until December 23 (thanks sandra).

(11/14/05) "Moviesonline.ca" published 43 photos from the film and film set. Some of them are new. Page 1  2  3  4  5  6 

(11/12/05) The tentative release date of Memoirs in mainland China is set at January 12th with the Beijing premiere on the 9th. Zhang Ziyi, Michelle, and Gong Li are all expected to attend. As usual, the English language film will be dubbed into Mandarin and most likely Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi will dub their own voices. Of course all this will depend on the approval of the state film administration (still pending).

(11/11/05) Selected Photos from the Photobook.

(11/11/05) Screenwriter Robin Swicord attended the Friends of the USC (University of Southern California) Libraries literary luncheon on November 9, and discussed the film adaptation of the book. A few hundred of avid readers and movie buffs showed up.

Photos from the Friends of the USC Libraries

(11/09/05) Next Monday's NBC Medium will air a sneak preview of the film. On their website you can also enter for sweepstakes to win a trip to the premiere. (thanks RinRinEva).

Sony's "Memoirs Of A Geisha" Sweepstakes - you may win a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan.

(11/09/05) As a preview, Santa Monica Aero Theatre will screen the film on December 5, 7:30PM, followed by discussions with Rob Marshall and Zhang Ziyi.

(11/09/05) A few more pictures published on the "Time" magazine (but not on the online version) - thanks Frenda for the scans!

Photos from "Time" magazine, "LA Times" and "NY Times"

(11/09/05) A special exhibition is being held at Shinjuku Isetan, Japan, from November 9 - 14. Some props used for filming are on the display. (Photos)

(11/08/05) Official Website has launched (click on "Launch Website"). There is a gallery and some wallpapers, and lengthy production notes.

(11/07/05) The "Los Angeles Times" published an article yesterday about the costume design of the film (see the link at left). The online version has some pictures of Sayuri and kimono sketches. In the actual newspaper (but not online) there is also a picture of Michelle - in the scene when the legendary Mameha is introduced. (many thanks to Laurie for the scan!)

Photos from "Time" magazine, "LA Times" and "NY Times"

(11/06/05) Two new photos from "New York Times" and "Time" magazine respectively. One is another Sayuri pic from the cherry blossom festival scene. Another is Hatsumomo with Chiyo.

(11/06/05) Reportedly Michelle, Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li will meet in New York at the middle of this month for the film promotion. Taiwanese "UDN" reported that Zhang Ziyi has already arrived in L.A..

(11/04/05) A fundraising advance screening will be held in San Francisco on November 30.

Here you may sign up for possible free advance screenings of Memoirs in your area. Also an official "Memoirs of a Geisha" Sweepstakes to win a trip to Japan will start at November 8.

(11/03/05) Memoirs of a Geisha roundtable is scheduled for November 18 - 20, in New York City.

(11/03/05) Speaking of the language barrier, a NY Times writer wrote: "five of the film's principals - Ms. Zhang, Ms. Gong, Mr. Yakusho, Ms. Momoi and Suzuka Ohgo, who plays the young Sayuri - are making their English-language acting debuts. The playwright Doug Wright, hired to polish the shooting script, was kept on during the production to rewrite lines that the actors found too difficult to pronounce."

(10/30/05) Photo from the LA recording.

(10/29/05) "First Listen" of the soundtrack.

(10/27/05) The "Chicago Sun-Times" stated that the film isn't scheduled to open in Chicago theaters until Dec. 16.

(10/26/05) Listings of the soundtrack:   1. Sayuri's Theme; 2. The Journey To The Hanamachi; 3. Going To School; 4. Brush On Silk; 5. Chiyo's Prayer; 6. Becoming A Geisha; 7. Finding Satsu; 8. The Chairman's Waltz; 9. The Rooftops Of The Hanamachi; 10. The Garden Meeting; 11. Dr. Crab's Prize; 12. Destiny's Path; 13. A New Name... A New Life; 14. The Fire Scene And The Coming of War; 15. As The Water... 16. Confluence; 17. A Dream Discarded; 18. Sayuri's Theme And End Credits.
(thanks Kevin)

(10/26/05) Memoirs of a Geisha is listed at Sony/Columbia Pictures's "For Your Consideration" site. Screenings for AMPAS and other guild/association members will be held in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London, starting late November.   (thanks Marla)

(10/25/05) Sony Classical issued a Press Release officially annoucing the release of the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack (on November 22. Album Cover), which features John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman. This part isn't really news. However, the press release also said that Memoirs of a Geisha will open in theaters NATIONWIDE December 9, 2005.

The article quoted Yo-Yo Ma who described John Williams' score for the film as "poetic and mysterious". Itzhak Perlman said the music for Geisha is "in sync with the contents of the film to such an extent that you cannot have one without the other."

(10/25/05) Memoirs of a Geisha trailer is included in the Bewitched DVD which was released last week.

(10/25/05) High Definition Quicktime trailer from Apple.com: (Quicktime 7 needed)
     Very High (175MB)
     High (100MB)
     Medium (31MB)

(10/23/05) Santa Barbara International Film Festival will host a Memoirs of a Geisha Benefit Screening & Gala on December 2nd. (thanks Chris)

(10/21/05) The Canadian Official Site of Memoirs of a Geisha is up. The Canadian release date is set at December 9th, same as in the States. I'm not sure why "The Detroit News" reported (two days ago) a release date of December 23rd. It is possible the date December 9 is only a limited release and it expands to more places later.

There are no new photos from Memoirs at the Canadian site at this moment. The site has three star bios - Zhang Ziyi (or Ziyi Zhang, the site used both ways), Ken Watanabe, and Michelle. I have to point out that Michelle's bio on the site is inaccurate in some places. If you would like to know more about Michelle Yeoh, it's probably better to read the Bio on this site.

(10/21/05) Chinese media reported that the "China Film Group Corporation" is working with SONY on getting the film shown in mainland China. If everything goes well, audiences in mainland China may expect to see the film on the big screen next January.

(10/19/05) According to "The Detroit News", the release date of Memoirs of a Geisha in Canada is scheduled for December 23rd.

(10/19/05) Masayo Ishigure, a Japanese koto player who lives in New York, has finished her koto solo recording for Memoirs of a Geisha in Los Angeles. The film soundtrack also features shakuhachi (a Japanese bamboo flute), performed by a L.A. based Japanese musician.

(10/14/05) Michelle took a short break from Sunshine filming and visited Taiwan on Oct. 14th. During the interviews, one of the topics Michelle talked about was Memoirs of a Geisha.

Michelle said she had a scene with Gong Li which was shot on a very cold day. It was a raining scene and both of them were dressed in thin clothes. They got totally soaked and both of them could not stop trembling. In another emotional betrayal scene, the director requested her not to cry. After the "cut" was shouted, she had to run somewhere else and cried hard.

The first time she worked with Gong Li, they immediately became close friends. Michelle tutored Gong Li in English during the shoot. When Gong Li later was filming Miami Vice, she told Michelle how hard it was because she had to learn Puerto Rican English. Michelle said from her own experience in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, she completely understood how hard it was to act in a foreign language. She said another actress, Kaori Momoi (Okiya Mother), sometimes cried due to the incredible pressure from speaking English, not so easy because she didn't speak it fluently enough.

Talking about Zhang Ziyi, Michelle said since the time of Crouching Tiger, Ziyi has grown from a girl to a "little lady". Asked if Zhang Ziyi has gotten more mature, Michelle said: "Of course. With such a good opportunity, I would spank her if she doesn't achieve more."

Michelle also mentioned that she went to Japan and observed how geisha live and behave before the shooting. Director Rob Marshall had invited Michelle to join the film cast without having to do a screen test. (In an earlier interview Michelle mentioned that Rob Marshall had given her the choice to play either Mameha or Hatsumomo.)

Once when producer Steven Spielberg came to the filming set, he said to Michelle: "Don't forget we are supposed to work together on an Indiana Jones sequel." Michelle answered: "I will be waiting for you!" (For photos please see News of Oct. 14 .)

(10/14/05) Banana Republic, a chain store specializing on casual luxury clothing, is having a sweepstakes through November 13 ("Promotion Period") to win tickets for the L.A. premiere and a trip to Tokyo. Legal residents of U.S.A. only.

A new photo from the winter dance scene is at Promotion Photos.

(10/14/05) SONY did another test screening this week in L.A. area (Sherman Oaks, California). Not sure if it is the final one, but the current version runs about 2 and half hours.

(10/11/05) Premiere in Japan will be held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan (sumo stadium), Tokyo, on November 29. The main cast members - Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li, Koji Yakusho, Kaori Momoi, Youki Kudoh, and Suzuka Ohgo, are all expected to attend.

An image which is published at Goo (Japan) has been added at Promotion Photos. Looks to me they are Pumpkin and Sayuri. Also here's a Japanese poster.

(10/10/05) A worldwide promotion of the film is starting next month. Taiwanese and Hong Kong media reported that Michelle requested Sunshine, Danny Boyle's sci-fi thriller which is currently filming in London, to wrap up her parts before the end of November. Zhang Ziyi will come to the U.S. around mid-November for the promotion. Reportedly U.S. premieres of Memoirs of a Geisha will include New York and Los Angeles. At the moment their promotion schedule does not include Taiwan. Columbia Taiwan is still trying and hoping to get the main actors to come to Taiwan next January.

(10/05/05) The audio CD of Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack is scheduled to be released on November 22 by Sony Classic. Composed by John Williams, the score features cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman, as well as Karen Han, a renowned Chinese Erhu soloist (Erhu is an ancient two-stringed Chinese violin). It also features extensive solo parts for the Japanese string instrument koto. Pre-order of the soundtrack is available at Amazon.

(10/04/05) Gong Li talks about Memoirs of a Geisha.

(09/29/05) A "Memoirs of a Geisha" 2006 wall calendar will be published on November 1st, by Andrews McMeel Publishing (ISBN 0740756273).

(09/25/05) Los Angeles premiere of Memoirs of a Geisha is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th, according to "Variety". The world premiere will be held in Tokyo, Japan on November 29th.

(09/21/05) A source from a theatre said the Memoirs of a Geisha trailer will be attached to prints of Flightplan, Jodie Foster's new thriller-drama which opens (wide) this Friday. Of course it's always safer to call your theatre to make sure they will show the trailer, if that's the main thing you'd like to see. (thanks Lori)

(09/21/05) Worldwide Release Dates for Memoirs of a Geisha.

(09/20/05) A new section on the collection of the movie stills and promotion photos has been added on this page. Link can be found at above.

(09/20/05) Heard that the U.S. Memoirs of a Geisha trailer is being attached with Proof, which is currently playing in 8 theaters in L.A. and N.Y. (wider release this Friday).

(09/20/05) Here is a picture of the 'flower bouquet' hair ornament by Me&Ro. Costume Designer Colleen Atwood asked the company to design four to five hair combs for the movie. This one can be seen in the film, worn by actress Eugenia Yuan (Korin).

(09/19/05) Excerpts from Michelle Yeoh Interview on Memoirs of a Geisha, "Prestige Hong Kong", September 2005

The launch issue of "Prestige Hong Kong" magazine (September) features Michelle on the cover and has a lengthy interview. In the above link I've included some Memoirs related topics (for the full interview and photos from the magazine please visit YeohFanz.com). Some interesting topics are mentioned, such as the preparation, the characters, Japanese style and geisha training, the language issue, etc., and a farewell party at the end. In describing her role of the geisha Mameha, Michelle said it was one of the most difficult roles to play: "she was so regal and contained.... The subtleties are the most difficult." And what she sees in this character is "a total commitment" and "total sense of grace."

Michelle mentioned that during her geisha training, the most difficult part was to learn to play shamisen, a lute like Japanese instrument. Liza Dalby (author of "Geisha" and a consultant for the film) was her teacher. She also commended on Gong Li's hard work in learning English.

At the end, the interviewer asked her: "If you had been born in the Japan of Mameha's time, would you have made a good geisha?" And I like very much Michelle's answer: "I would have been the best."   (This reminds me of when, after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there was a special show about Michelle on a major Chinese TV program. I remember what the opening title says of her: "If she was born at that time in the world which is called Jiang Hu (the Wuxia world), she must have been a world-famous heroine."   ...  OK, maybe I've gone too far. Sorry.)

(09/18/05) Hong Kong release date of the film: January 12 2006 (thanks to Kityi).

(09/15/05) U.S. theatrical trailer. Running time 2:33. Play or download:
RealMedia format:
     Large (13MB) (can be watched at full screen)
     Small (6.5MB)
Quicktime format:
     Large (33.9MB) (can be watched at full screen)
     Small (10.4MB)

(09/14/05) A first look at the film will be aired on CBS's "Entertainment Tonight", tomorrow (Thursday 15th) evening. A trailer will be shown. The show may start around 7:00 or 7:30PM - check your local listings.

(09/12/05) An article on "USA Today" quoted Rob Marshall commenting the film Memoirs of a Geisha is more of "a fictional impression of a world as opposed to a documentary vision". The article mentioned that Zhang Ziyi had done a movie in Japan "playing a Japanese person". Would like to point out that Zhang Ziyi's role in Seijun Suzuki's Princess Raccoon is not a "Japanese person". In fact it is a Chinese character, a raccoon-turned "Chinese princess".

Photos from "USA Today" and "New York Times"

(09/12/05) The Malaysian release date of Memoirs of a Geisha is January 19, 2006, according to "Cinema Online".

(09/11/05) Today's "New York Times" published a photo from the Memoirs set. It seems to be the scene when Mameha is preparing the cut wound on Sayuri's leg.

The article has parts talking about Rob Marshall, who began his career as a dancer, became a respected Broadway choreographer and rose to Hollywood's A-list director. "Creating a dance is about connecting one movement to another," says Marshall. "And film is the same process with different tools. In the editing room you're putting all these pieces of a mosaic together, piece by piece by piece, working on one small segment for hours. It's a lot like spending a whole day in the studio perfecting two minutes of a dance."

(09/08/05) A pictorial moviebook, "Memoirs of a Geisha - A Portrait of the Film", will be published by Newmarket Press in early December. The book features over 150 full-color photographs and drawings. Author of the book, Peggy Mulloy, is the publicist of the film and was on the set throughout the production. List price $40. Pre-orders with discount are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc..

(09/08/05) Zhang Ziyi is in Japan having a four day promotional tour for Memoirs. She will accept interviews with 15 Japanese news agencies.

(09/08/05) According to Taiwanese agency "UDN", the release date of Memoirs of a Geisha is January 14 in Taiwan.

(09/07/05) Back from my trip. First, THANK YOU everyone who e-mailed me and helped to keep me updated. Apologize if I am not able to answer every e-mail this time... Now time to catch up some Memoirs news:

A trailer of the film has been released on the Japanese "Sayuri" website (the film will be distributed in Japan under the title "Sayuri", which is the title of the Japanese version of the novel "Memoirs of a Geisha"). Time runs 3:15. In English with Japanese subtitles:
   Real Media 5.3 MB (Large)
   Windows Media 11 MB (Large)
   Windows Media 1 MB (Small)

Two Promotion Photos from Chinese Media: Sayuri, Mameha and Hatsumomo

The film will be released in the U.S. and Japan at the same time - December 9 in U.S. and December 10 in Japan.

(08/19/05) "The Daily Fashion" has an interview with Colleen Atwood, the costume designer of the film. Talking about the kimonos used in the film, Atwood said: "I shopped all over Japan. I even shopped online and did research at the fashion institute in Tokyo." She added, "I had embroiderers in Ganzi, England, Copenhagen. I worked with a manufacturer in Kyoto called Tashiyama that's a 500 year-old company that made obis for me." Some of the kimonos took as long as four to five months to make. (thanks Francis)

Photos from "The Daily Fashion"

(08/12/05) Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, whose weeping cello in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had touched the hearts of so many of us, is currently in Los Angeles, finishing up recording his part in the score John Williams has recorded for the forthcoming film Memoirs of a Geisha, according to "The Boston Globe".

In a cover story of last month's "International Musician," John Williams says his latest film project, Memoirs of a Geisha, is throwing him a few new curve balls. "I hope the music will have all the atmosphere of prewar Japan," he says. "The score is on a smaller, more intimate scale, a kind of concerto grosso for an assortment of solo instruments with string accompaniment." Besides Yo-Yo Ma's cello solo, Williams's score will also include extended solos for the koto, a traditional Japanese string instrument. "Writing for koto is even tougher, as one is limited by the instrument's chromatic abilities, and the tuning and the plucking techniques are complicated," Williams points out. To that end, Williams says he has been working with a koto soloist in his studio, learning how to fit his writing into a comfortable idiom for the soloist.

(08/12/05) Zoe Weizenbaum (whose name and photo have been added into the cast list) plays Young Pumpkin in the film, an awkward girl who's unsure of herself and befriends Chiyo (Young Sayuri). Zoe joined both Los Angeles and San Fransisco shooting. Going into 8th grade, Memoirs of a Geisha is her third film. She is currently a student at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School.

(08/11/05) These are some photos showing the Hanamachi set built at Thousand Oaks, California. As we reported last year, an "actual" Japanese town was built near Thousand Oaks as one of the main filming sets. Many scenes were filmed there before shooting moved to Northern California and then Japan. Pictures shown are not the finished set but when under construction.

Set construction photos: The Hanamachi   (SGPS)

(08/10/05) Some pictures can be seen at Latino Review. There is a new one with Chairman and Sayuri.

(08/08/05) A new film still is published at "UDN" (Taiwan). It is a scene that Hatsumomo (Gong Li) is being stopped by people in her okiya from beating young Sayuri who discovered her having an affair.

(08/05/05) Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the Honolulu-based actor who plays The Baron (Mameha's danna) in the film, talked to The Honolulu Advertiser (scroll to the middle of the page) about the film. "It has the feel of an independent art film but with a Hollywood budget," said Tagawa, "Cinematically, it's a work of art." He said the three Chinese actresses acquitted themselves well in roles that were particularly challenging. He also mentioned it was difficult to shoot the scene when he undressed Sayuri, the 14-year-old character played by Zhang Ziyi.

(08/01/05) "GoldDerby" interviewed director Rob Marshall on the evening of the test screening last Thursday. You may see the article and video interview in the above link (Memoirs part starts at 4:47 into the second clip). The premiere of the film will be held in Tokyo on November 29th. (thanks Marla and Dean)

(08/01/05) If you haven't read it from IMDb, a few more Q & A by "agoodfella" have been added at the end of the Sneak Preview of "Memoirs of a Geisha" thread. In this preview version of the film, Zhang Ziyi has a solo dance as well as a duo with Michelle. In additional to dancing, Michelle also shows her talent in playing instruments.

(07/29/05) The fourth update of this page today... "agoodfella", who watched the film yesterday, posted on IMDb a fairly detailed analysis on the performances from each main character in the film. What he/she says of Michelle:
"Wow. THE performance of the film. Incredible and Oscar worthy IMO. She fits the perfect mentor role to Sayuri, displaying wisdom, guile, inner strength and dignity despite her own circumstances. She hits all the right amount of emotion, grace and compassion that this role required. She allowed and indeed played an important part in supporting Sayuri's role to shine as the films "star". Yeoh has a unique quality to shine, she transcends her own beauty, and yet at the same time you are, in the back of your mind, also constantly aware of it as well - powerful stuff."
(You may read the entire post at IMDb or here . )
I'm truly sorry I missed the screening... And, Michelle HAS a dancing performance in the film (with Zhang Ziyi).

(07/29/05) Two more film stills are published from Spyglass. One is a better version of the picture we published here earlier, the second one is new - which has most of the main characters in it.

Two film stills from "Spyglass"

(07/29/05) Director Rob Marshall showed up at the NRG research screening yesterday evening. According to some comments by a few of the audience, the film was beautifully shot but the character development could have been improved. Some people complained about actors' accents. Reportedly the film was generally well received and the majority of the audience applauded at the end.

The version shown was a little over two hours in length. It was not the final cut but a "work in progress". The first official poster was posted at the theatre. See "Posters" link at this page.

(07/29/05) A spokesman from Columbia Pictures' China branch said that they are hoping the film can be shown in China (mainland) during the first quarter of next year.

(07/27/05) A special research screening of the film will be held tomorrow (Thursday) evening at Pacific Paseo, Pasadena, California, by NRG, one of the market research companies.

(07/24/05) Sony is setting up the official website of Memoirs of a Geisha at www.memoirsofageisha.com. At this moment only the front page is up. You can register to receive email updates about the film.

(07/17/05) Michelle is on the cover of the August issue of "Style" magazine (Singapore). When the interviewer asked her about whether she'd make a good geisha, Michelle said: "There's a little bit of geisha in all of us. The social etiquette required of an actress is no different from that of a good hostess at a party. Filming Memoirs has been a very different experience for me because my role was really action-challenged. Mameha is such a strong character role." (for the entire article and photos from the magazine enter here.)

(07/02/05) The release date of Memoirs of a Geisha in Italy will be December 16th, by Eagle Pictures. (thanks Valerio)

(06/30/05) A few more book covers of the novel in different languages are added in "About Memoirs" (link at above).

(06/23/05) Looks like Sony indeed intended to release a teaser of Memoirs of a Geisha with Bewitched which opens this Friday. The name of Memoirs is listed on the digital theatre sound discs that come with the film prints (thanks Lori!). Not sure if the teaser trailer has been finished as planned or if any theatre is playing it.

(06/22/05) Rob Marshall is completing a cut of Memoirs of a Geisha and it will be shown to Columbia Pictures brass on Friday, according to "Variety".

"Ain't It Cool" published a photo of a teaser poster, taken at NYC Licensing Show.

(06/19/05) Here is a larger version of a previously published photo of Chairman and Sayuri. You can see the grayish contact lenses Zhang Ziyi was wearing. (thanks Chris)

(06/13/05) Various sources suggested that we can expect a trailer of Memoirs of a Geisha in a few weeks.

I heard that Zhang Ziyi is still doing voice dubbing work for the film, and she may have to keep doing it for a while.

(05/23/05) Variety's "V Life" magazine interviewed Michelle and Zhang Ziyi - in Paris and New York respectively - last month, and the current issue quoted them from the interviews. Five years after the smashing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, they will be "sharing the screen under helmer Rob Marshall in Sony's Oscar hopeful Memoirs of a Geisha."

"V Life" Interviews with Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi

(05/20/05) A film photo from "Kinema Jumpo", a Japanese movie magazine (thanks the sender!). Apparently Sayuri and Mameha are entering a tea house.

(05/19/05) When reporters interviewed Michelle at Cannes, many of them asked her about Memoirs of a Geisha. Some Chinese reporters brought up the topic of the criticisms about the three Chinese actresses playing Japanese geisha. Michelle said everybody comes together for the sake of the art of film. She also pointed out no Japanese reporter questioned her about this during the press conference in Japan.

Michelle just finished her part of the voice dubbing for the film. She said it was a surprise that Gong Li's English is so good: "Her English is excellent! She has excellent pronunciation and strong conversational skills in English. She just needs more encouragement." And that was what Michelle did during the filming - she kept encouraging Gong Li and telling her she did great. Gong Li said in an interview that she and Michelle became like sisters during the film shooting. Michelle said they liked each other when they met for the first time (for Memoirs). There are many similarities in their personalities. Gong Li sometimes reminds her of Anita Mui (sister-like friend to Michelle, the famous Hong Kong singer and actress who passed away in December 2003), said Michelle.

Asked more about the film, Michelle joked that she will have to save some materials for the later film promotion.

Both Michelle and Zhang Ziyi attended the Chinese Film Night at Cannes on the evening of May 18th.

(05/16/05) Michelle will depart L.A. tomorrow and attend an event in Cannes on May 18th for celebrating 100 years of Chinese cinema.

(05/06/05) When attending a charity film premiere in Hong Kong (see News for details and photos), Michelle said she will be coming to Los Angeles next Monday and working for about ten days on the Memoirs of a Geisha voice dubbing.

(05/02/05) According to Taiwan "UDN", Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, and Gong Li will all be in Los Angeles working on voice dubbing for the film in the coming days.

The three female leads portray three different types of geisha. Zhang Ziyi's Sayuri is young, inexperienced, and pure. Gong Li's Hatsumomo openly shows her love or hate, and she does whatever to please herself. Michelle's Mameha is opposite. Michelle said although her character in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was very restrained but at least she did physically fight. Now in Memoirs of a Geisha her character just endures to the end, almost too much to bear. Michelle joked it would cause her internal injury if it keeps going like this.

As for the film, Michelle said Memoirs of a Geisha is done beautifully. Director Rob Marshall tells this eastern love story with a tune of a gentle beauty.

(04/29/05) Zhang Ziyi, who was in Beijing yesterday, told Chinese media that she had been in a language school in New York studying English. In May, she will be working in the voice studio in Los Angeles to finish voice dubbing for Memoirs of a Geisha. The film is currently under post-production.

(04/21/05) Pictures of the four main geisha in Memoirs of a Geisha

They may act on screen as rivals, but Gong Li said she and Michelle are in fact like sisters to each other. In a recent phone interview with Taiwanese reporters, Gong Li said she's so grateful to Michelle who gave her exactly the type of encouragement she needed on the filming set: "Just one sentence from her (Michelle). It gave me the confidence."

(04/13/05) More photos of the fisherman hut set from Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. It is the "tipsy house" in the fishing village of Yoroido where young Chiyo lived.

(03/25/05) It's not confirmed elsewhere, but according to Malaysia's "Sin Chew Daily", Memoirs of a Geisha will be release in Malaysia on December 8. The distribution company Buena Vista, who distributed CTHD in Malaysia a few years ago, is trying to arrange a special "coming home" for Michelle, with other main actors.

(03/20/05) In a telephone interview with "UDN" (Taiwan), Eugenia Yuan, who plays Hatsumomo's (Gong Li) friend Korin, recalled her experience on the filming of Memoirs of a Geisha. She said it was very uncomfortable to wear traditional Japanese kimono. "It's like I was tied up. I couldn't even sit, don't even mention trying to eat or use restroom. I had to stand there motionless while I waited for my turn." She said Gong Li helped her to relax, and told her that she (Gong Li) felt same at the beginning and couldn't even breathe, but later she got used to the feeling and managed to dance in kimono. Besides the difficulty with the costume, Eugenia Yuan also disliked her make-up: "With this white face and bright red lips, I looked scarier than the ghost I played before." Most of her scenes are shared with Gong Li and they became good friends in real life.

(03/18/05) Michelle and Ken Watanabe attended the charity Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix Ice Gala on March 17th. Photos and report see News of Mar. 17th and 18th.

(03/11/05) This exclusive Zhang Ziyi Interview, which was done through a Chinese-English interpreter, will likely be last one in the interview series we publish here from the Sony set, from the interviews done on December 6, 2004. We have already published Michelle's and Rob Marshall's segments. The rest of the interviews are all in Japanese. So unless someone volunteers to translate them into English...

In the interview, Zhang Ziyi mentioned that Ken Watanabe and Yuki Kudoh had helped her a lot. They OFTEN corrected her posture and walking style. Well, have to admit I was a bit shocked when I found out the Japanese etiquette consultant they had on set was not a Japanese!

(03/09/05) According to Taiwan "UDN", Memoirs of a Geisha will have an early Chinese New Year release in Taiwan on January 27, 2006. Columbia Pictures Asia has sent invitations to the lead actors and hopes they could attend the Taiwan premiere.

(03/08/05) Tentative release dates for Memoirs of a Geisha:
   December 9th, limited release in LA and New York
   December 10th, Japan
   December 23rd, wide release in U.S.
   January-February 2006, Europe and Latin America
(thanks Susan)

(02/28/05) Video clips and transcripts from the Japan press conference (Jan. 31): Michelle Yeoh and Rob Marshall's speeches.

(02/28/05) At a charity event in Hong Kong on Feb. 26th, Michelle said she's coming back to the U.S. today to continue the sound recording for the Memoirs of a Geisha post-production. At the event, some reporters asked about the rumor that Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li and her had a tense relationship during the filming, Michelle said it's impossible, all the cast members were like a family and she had great time with them. She said she often did dining, dance and Karaoke with the others. Reporters further asked whether Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi were hanging out with her. She said Zhang Ziyi was too busy and barely had enough time to sleep. (more on the event in News)

(02/21/05) Last month Chinese "AnyP" had an article about veteran Hong Kong actor Kenneth Tsang, who plays General in Memoirs. Kenneth Tsang disclosed when Steven Spielberg was attached to direct, he was given a more important role in the film. Now the General role has much less screen time, but Tsang said he doesn't mind. Tsang speaks good English and the filming of his parts was not very difficult for him. One odd thing is that the article said most of Tsang's scenes are shared with Gong Li. Either it is an error (which is quite possible in a Chinese report) or the script is very different from the novel.

(02/16/05) Exclusive Rob Marshall Interview, December 6, 2004.

(02/16/05) Samantha Futerman, a senior at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey, will play Satsu, Chiyo's biological sister. (thanks Arnold)

(02/10/05) The San Jose "Mercury News" reported that some damage to the 40-year-old tatami floor mats at the Hakone Gardens teahouse occurred due to the heavy equipment used by film crews last month during the Memoirs filming. Sony Pictures, who already gave Hakone Gardens a $121,000 donation, agreed to pay to either replace the 10 to 15 mats or restore them.

According to the Hakone Foundation, Hakone Gardens is the perfect location for the Japanese story because it is the only authentic Japanese garden in North America. The filming took place in mid-January and mostly at night, under tight security and with hardly any media being told it was taking place at the location less than a mile from downtown Saratoga. "They filmed in almost every corner of the garden," according to the report. Hakone and Sony officials are discussing the possibility of an invitation-only screening of the film in this area before its public release that will be a fundraiser for the Hakone Foundation.

(02/09/05) Exclusive Michelle Yeoh Interview, by Japanese reporter Akiko Tetsuta on December 6, 2004 at the Sony Studio set. Michelle talks about the director, the book, her role choosing, and her having good times with other actors and actresses. She and Gong Li often danced in each other's trailer! Too bad the interview was cut short by the busy filming.

(02/06/05) Thanks Belinda, who visited the shooting set at the Presidio, San Francisco, on January 16th. They were trying to recreate 1945 New York in the Presidio's huge parking lot. Blue-screens were set up in certain places (maybe to be replaced by some NY scenery). Belinda managed to meet director Rob Marshall and chatted with him. She didn't see any of the main actresses that day, only extras.

Photos from Presidio set, San Francisco

(02/06/05) Apparently they did use wigs (as well as full white make-up) in certain scenes. A Hong Kong newspaper quoted Gong Li, who was recalling the experience she had with the Memoirs project. Since two months before the filming started, she was "surrounded by three dance teachers, two etiquette teachers, one instrument teacher and three English teachers." she went on training "from morning to night". When shooting started, she had to spend hours to do the make-up every day. The wig was as heavy as 20 kg (44 lb).

(02/03/05) Yesterday I had a conversation with a Japanese journalist, Ms. Akiko Tetsuta, who visited the Memoirs shooting set and interviewed the director, some actors, and some of the crew members (including the make-up person who is Japanese). This was in early December last year with a group of Japanese reporters. They were permitted to witness the shooting that day, but no cameras were allowed.

That day they were filming at the Sony Studio. It was a scene with Mameha introducing Sayuri into a tea house. A group of men gathered inside the tea house. Michelle's Mameha entered. Then Zhang Ziyi's Sayuri. The scene was being shot over and over, from different angles, with different camera movements, for four hours.

During the interview, Zhang Ziyi was able to use some simple expressions in English but the interview had to rely on a Chinese-English interpreter. Asked if she had read the "Memoirs of a Geisha" novel, Zhang Ziyi said yes but she only read the Chinese version.

When Michelle met with director Rob Marshall, she was given the choice to portray either Mameha or Hatsumomo. Michelle opted for Mameha.

Here are several more issues which may interest you:

Language issue: in order to generalize all actors' accents, the film uses so-called "British English with a Japanese accent." Michelle Yeoh already speaks British English so she had to work on some Japanese accent. Youki Kudoh (who plays Pumpkin), who lives in U.S. and speaks both Japanese and English, said for all these years she had been trying to adopt an American accent in her English, but for the film she had to try to get rid of the American accent and add a British accent instead. Both Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li speak some English but not very well.

Authenticity - hair style and make-up: from the scene they witnessed, it's clear that the hairstyle and make-up actresses wore are not the same as that of a real geisha. It's a fantasy, as filmmakers claimed. The white make-up is tuned down so they won't look too "scary". The reason they didn't use the real geisha hair style, I think, is because it would be extremely complicated and difficult. As described in the book, a real geisha has to spend hours to have her hair wax fixed in that special style and is unable to wash hair usually for a week. What's worse - in order to keep that hair style in shape, a geisha can not sleep on a pillow and instead, has to have her neck placed on a special stand to keep her hair suspended in the air while sleeping. Guess we can't expect actresses - either Japanese or Chinese - to keep their hair in the real geisha way. As for why they didn't use wigs, Akiko told me the wigs of geisha are terribly heavy and it would take a long time to get used to wearing them. Even if an actress manages to bear that thing on the top of her head, she probably wouldn't be able to act or do anything else.

The book: I asked Akiko's opinion on the book. She said she hasn't got a chance to read the original English version. She read the Japanese version before going to the shooting set. She said the Japanese version is well written especially in the language issue. Kyoto has a very special dialect and the Japanese version of the novel reflects that very well.

(02/03/05) Anthony Begonia, an actor from Hawaii, will be playing a sumo wrestler (Kitonoyama) in the film. Here is a photo of Anthony Begonia with Ace Yonamine, another Hawaiian actor. Both of them have sumo experience and performed as sumos against each other in the film while two terrific ex-professional sumos (non-actors) were brought in from Japan.

(02/02/05) Many Japanese and Mainland Chinese newspapers reported on the press conference. According to various reports, about 600 reporters attended the event and the conference lasted more than an hour and half - a record length for such an event on a Hollywood movie in Japan. Several minutes of footages of the unfinished film, accompanied by samisen music, was shown to the press.

Three languages were used during the conference. Rob Marshall and Michelle spoke in English. Gong Li spoke in Mandarin Chinese. And the rest of the cast, all Japanese, spoke Japanese. "An international atmosphere", described by Japanese media.

Ken Watanabe said in an interview with Fuji TV that all film crew members, including director Marshall, were crying and emptied two full tissue boxes after shooting the last scene.

Director Rob Marshall will be returning to L.A. and starting to edit the film after taking an one week vacation.

In Japan, the film will be distributed under the title "Sayuri", which is the Japanese title of the book "Memoirs of a Geisha".

(01/31/05) Filming of Memoirs of a Geisha is officially wrapped up in Japan. The production team finished filming the final scenes of Memoirs of a Geisha on Saturday in Kyoto. A press conference was held in Tokyo on January 31st. Director Rob Marshall and seven cast members of the film - Michelle, Gong Li, Kaori Momoi, Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh and Suzuka Ohgo were on hand to celebrate the end of the four month shooting, with more than 500 people in attendance. Zhang Ziyi was absent due to her current work on shooting an (unrelated) commercial.

Photos from the Japan press conference

A report on the press conference can be seen at "Japan Today".

(01/30/05) According to "San Francisco Chronicle", estimated budget for Memoirs of a Geisha is about US$100 million. When they were filming at GG Park in San Francisco, the Chronicle was permitted to visit the "Memoirs" set in the park but was not allowed to witness filming. Here is a photo of rickshaws used for filming.

After filming in the Bay Area was completed, the company headed to Japan to finish the shoot. Another source suggested that the Japan shooting is completed.

(01/28/05) Japanese newspaper has a report on Suzuka Ohgo, the 11 year old 5th grader from Kanagawa. She was in California for the Memoirs shooting from last September to December, also from 3rd to 15th of this month. Suzuka Ohgo will play Chiyo in the film. According to the newspaper, Ken Watanabe wrote a recommendation for Suzuka when she was auditioning for the role last July. He also helped her with her English and showed up many times at the shooting set to support her.

(01/28/05) Casting information: Randall Duk Kim, the Keymaker in Matrix Reloaded, will play Dr. Crab in Memoirs of a Geisha.

A photo of Keymaker posing with a car key and a photo of Kenneth Tsang can been seen at L.A. set photos. Taken last year in L.A.. (thanks 9-Ring Blade)

(01/21/05) According to someone from the production company, all shooting has been completed in the Bay Area.

(01/20/05) Filming at the Hakone Gardens is complete and they are doing cleanup and restoring the place. (thanks Dean)

(01/19/05) The recent issue of "Entertainment Weekly" has a promotion photo showing Sayuri dancing in falling snow. It is from the scene of Sayuri's debut performance at the Hanamachi, filmed at L.A.'s Mayan Theatre last year. Reportedly the dancing movements themselves are totally contemporary although the costume and music are traditional. (thanks Mike and Chris)

(01/16/05) The production team has been filming in various locations in the Bay Area. Besides Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, they are also filming at Presidio (San Francisco) and Muir Beach.

Some scenes shot at GG Park's Tea Garden are geisha school scenes. Two set reports:
   Set report from IMDb post
   Report by Dean

(01/14/05) Here are some photos taken by Dean, who hung around at Golden Gate Park for two days (12th and 13th) in order to catch a glimpse of Michelle (happily for him, he fulfilled his wish at the second day). Wish his camera had a zoom feature though ;-).

Photos from Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

(01/14/05) Some earlier photos from a L.A. set.

(01/13/05) They are going to continue filming at the Japanese Tea Garden tonight, reported Dean, who's at GG park right now. (more at News...)

(01/13/05) Yesterday filming took place at the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. The garden is closed to the public for the rest of the week.

Apparently there were two units shooting at the garden. The first unit with Michelle, Zhang Ziyi and co. was filming inside the tea garden. Another unit was filming near the entrance: a person riding a bicycle, a geisha on a rickshaw, the girls running back and forth, and various other people. Production gears could be seen everywhere, including a crane holding up a humongous shade to block the sunlight, and a 1930s era classic car. (thanks Dean)

(01/13/05) Some anecdotes of the Memoirs shooting in L.A.:

* During last month's massive sumo scene shooting, 534 extras were not even enough to fill up all the seats at the set. The rest of the open seats were occupied by blow-up dummies dressed in suit, tie, mask, and wig.

* All main stars attended the Hanamachi spring dance scene which was filmed at the Mayan Theatre, Los Angeles. The scene of Sayuri dancing in the falling snow had been shot over and over from different angles for 18 hours (!) on the second day. (thanks Mike)

(01/13/05) February issue of "Premiere" listed Memoirs of a Geisha as one of the most anticipated films of 2005. "I feel like I'm making movies in the '30s and '40s," director Rob Marshall says, "when they threw tons of money at these big epics." The magazine also has a short interview of Zhang Ziyi. What puzzles me is that they quoted her saying "we have to have British accents for our characters". BRITISH accents???

Premiere Photo: Rob Marshall, Zhang Ziyi and Ken Watanabe. (thanks Chris)

(01/12/05) Filming at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve/Moss Beach took place Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 10 and 11. See a report from Half Moon Bay Review.

(01/11/05) Weather has changed shooting schedule quite a bit. Heard that they are filming at Moss Beach today and will be at Golden Gate Park tomorrow.

(01/09/05) Behind scenes photos from the American River and train depot shooting sets.

(01/09/05) Photos of the fisherman hut set at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. The hut, made of straws, is to be the "tipsy house" in the little fishing village of Yoroido where young Chiyo lived. A muddy dirt road has been built to the hut.

Reportedly locals have expressed concerns that the crew would damage the delicate bluff. Columbia Pictures paid $18,000 to the San Mateo County for a permit, and donated $28,000 to Friends of the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve to get permission to do the filming in the park. The company has agreed to restore the area to its condition before it was disturbed by the crew.

(01/07/05) "San Francisco Examiner" said filming at Moss Beach is set to begin Jan. 13. The scenes filmed in San Mateo County will be of Chiyo's early days in a Japanese fishing village.

Other film locations in the Bay Area also include the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and in Marin County.

(01/06/05) A teaser poster which gives an exclusive look at the early artwork of the production. (thanks Jawad of dreamworksfansite.com)

(01/06/05) Filming at the south fork of the American River, Pilot Hill, went on for two days and wrapped up on Wednesday. What they were shooting are the silk factory scenes. "The banks of the south fork at a popular rafter takeout for picnics were festooned with bamboo poles holding 20-foot-long sheets of brightly colored silk," described "Auburn Journal". The filmmakers ensured that no harm to the watershed would occur by using non-toxic, vegetable dyes.

(01/05/05) Thanks to Linnea, who lives in Sacramento, who went to visit the old train depot set today and provided us these photos. She was told that the extras were rehearsing today and that the actual filming will take place there tomorrow. Tents are set up for the extras to get dressed in and they were setting up trailers today.

Photos from old train depot set, Old Sacramento

(01/05/05) About 160 cast and crew members started filming near daybreak yesterday at the south fork of the American River, Pilot Hill. The filmmakers requested a "closed set," which doesn't allow public access to the isolated location.

"San Mateo County Times" reported that a house of a poor Japanese fisherman is currently being installed on the bluffs overlooking the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. According to the producers, Moss Beach looks very much like certain area in Japan, tidepools and all. Filming in San Mateo County is scheduled for Jan. 18 and 19.

(01/04/05) Filming has moved to the Bay Area. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Muir beach and the California State Railroad Museum (Old Sacramento) are some of the film locations. They will also be filming at the Hakone Gardens, Saratoga, California (originally scheduled from Jan. 6 to 15 but it may be changed due to rainy weather) and the garden will be closed to the public during the nine days of filming. "It has a beautiful look and very easily matches a location we have in Los Angeles, the Descanso Gardens." said the location manager for the film. About 200 crew members are staying in San Francisco.

(01/04/05) Five-year old Christian Oda from San Jose plays the son of Ken Watanabe, according to "Mercury News".

(01/03/05) Some trivial bits from the Memoirs of a Geisha production:

* Although the film is mainly being shot in English, some Japanese is spoken in certain scenes. According to an IMDb post, Koji Yakusho was yelling in Japanese to the sumo wrestlers, and the director also made the audience members cheer in Japanese during the sumo match.

* Lead actress Zhang Ziyi has been working hard on her English. Reportedly she's still having trouble with the language. Michelle Yeoh often helps her to rehearse her lines between takes. The dialogue is not complex or wordy and much of the emotions are expected to be conveyed through expressions.

* Zhang Ziyi's character wears the full-on white makeup only for certain scenes mostly of the 'ceremonial' variety.

(12/26/04) The first segment of Memoirs of a Geisha in Los Angeles had completed. Michelle returned to Malaysia on Dec. 23rd to celebrate Christmas with her family. "I will return soon to continue shooting as the film is scheduled for completion by January," said Michelle. She will return to Los Angeles on Jan 2 to resume filming.

Japanese media reported that Ken Watanabe was back to Japan for the holidays and would return to U.S. soon.

(12/20/04) "The Sacramento Bee" has a brief news on the filming of Memoirs of a Geisha in Old Sacramento next month. The cobblestone streets around the train station will be transformed into rural Japan, circa 1920. The paper quoted Lucy Steffens, Sacramento's film production wrangler: "Watch out for live chickens, goats and 150 extras in period costumes."

(12/19/04) The last regular production shoot on the Thousand Oaks Hanamachi set was wrapped on Friday, Dec. 17th. According to David, who has been working on Memoirs as a background actor, "Friday on the Hanamachi set they worked like mad to get their last shots in the can." On that day he worked on the part of the set which they dubbed "Funky Town" - the prostitute district where Chiyo's sister was taken to. Although not working on the Descanso Gardens set in La Canada, David went to visit it. The location was turned into a resort/hot springs. A couple of the pools were heated, with varying degrees of sucess (one pool was warmer than another). They filmed there for two nights as scheduled.

Aside from some smaller scenes at Sony Studios, the production will move to Northern California soon. Some New York city scenes are scheduled to be filmed on some backlot in Los Angeles after the Northern California shoot. (thanks David and Bluenose Kitty)

(12/17/04) Nancy Hayes Casting (San Francisco) is looking for more Asian men as extras for a scene to be shot January 5th in Sacramento. Fittings are at 12/27-30.

(12/16/04) An extensive report on the big sumo shooting from Bluenose Kitty is up at "Dark Horizons".

(12/15/04) Two days of the sumo scene shooting at Sony Studios turned out to be long and exhausting. The director himself was working at least 12 hours a day. There were actual retired sumo wrestlers from Japan on the set. (thanks David)

It seems the deformities of the character Nobu have been toned down for the film. In the film Koju Yakusho is scarred on the right side of his face but he still looks like an elegant and handsome man who happens to have a few burn scars. And his arm problem may have been eliminated. (thanks Bluenose Kitty)

(12/15/04) An IMDb post says the production will be taking place in Old Sacramento, scheduled as following: week of Dec. 27 - paint and construction; Jan. 2-Jan. 3 - grip, electric and set decorating; Jan. 4 - filming on the American River unless it rains, in which case they will film in Old Sacramento; Jan. 5-Jan. 6 - filming in Old Sacramento.

(12/14/04) The big Sumo scene which involves about 500 extras began filming yesterday and continues today at Sony Studios in Culver City. I heard that people are working as long as 16 hours and some call times start at 3:30AM. This is the last big scene shot in Los Angeles area for Memoirs of a Geisha.

(12/11/04) The San Francisco open casting call for extras from Nancy Hayes Casting is now only looking for Asians (men, women and children).

(12/09/04) Open casting call in Northern California from Nancy Hayes Casting, San Francisco:
        Asian Men - light skin, no taller than 5'10", 42 suit.
        Asian Women - light skin, no taller than 5'5', 125 lbs. Brown or black shoulder length hair.
        Asian Children - ages 3-12, male & female.
        Caucasian/Western European Men - ages 22 - 65, 5'8" - 6'2" and wear jacket sizes between 38 - 46.
        Caucasian/Western European Women - size 8 or smaller.

Extras are needed for various scenes to be shot in Sacramento in early January. Check their website for detailed descriptions and contact information.

(12/09/04) Reportedly the pan-Asian cast for Memoirs of a Geisha has caused some language problems on set. "They have Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other Asian actors and they have had to hire a load of interpreters, ... It is costing a lot of time to do anything," quoted an insider by ContactMusic.com.

When Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) was back to Taiwan last week he told reporters that most of the cast members on Memoirs don't speak English very well. He said Michelle Yeoh, who does speak fluent English, is made nervous too as she has to learn to "speak English with a Japanese accent" from the language coach.

(12/09/04) LA Times reported that Columbia was appealing to the La Canada Flintridge City Council for a permission to film overnight at Descanso Gardens, La Canada, California. If it is granted, shooting will take place from midnight to 6 a.m. Dec. 15 through Dec. 17 at the Descanso Gardens' Japanese Tea House for a hot springs resort scene. La Canada, a city north of Los Angeles, has some restrictions on overnight filming and the initial request from Columbia was denied.

(12/03/04) Set photos from Memoirs of a Geisha.

Also some real geisha photos taken by Johnny.K, a Michelle Yeoh fan from Shanghai, when he visited Gion last month. See News & Production Photos.

(11/29/04) Central Casting (Burbank, California) is having another open casting call. Sunday, December 5th, 1:00 - 3:00 pm (scroll down to the Memoirs News of Oct. 18 for the location). They are calling primarily Asian men for the big Sumo scene which is scheduled to film at the Sony Studios in Culver City on 13th and 14th of December.

(11/21/04) Bluenose Kitty (thanks!) gives us a comparison of the Gion set and those real Gion photos:
The photos of Gion look more 'modern' than the set's buildings and the streets on the set are much more narrow. But some of the buildings look like they're not too different from some of the movie buildings especially the older more 'classic' buildings. One of the boulevards has been dressed and used in many different scenes but it looks different every time -- and filled with extras, smoke, fog, water on the streets, ice (for the winter scenes), antique cars, rickshaws, animals, etc.. When seen through the movie lens you'd never know it was a movie set and you would be transported back to the 20s and 30s. It is very convincing.
Bluenose Kitty also said there are a whole bunch of artificial trees at the sets and they can be lifted with cranes and placed anywhere on the set. From afar they look real and when you get up close they turn out to be plastic!

(11/19/04) Shooting at various locations in the Bay Area (Northern California) is scheduled in next January, according to a source from the production team.

(11/16/04) A number of scenes which take place in 1950s New York city will be filmed in December - in Los Angeles. (thanks Bluenose Kitty)

Here I would like to share with everyone what "Bluenose Kitty", who is currently working on the project and has been providing us those unique, detailed set reports, etc. (THANKS!), says about the Memoirs of a Geisha production:
Jane, I think you (and others) will be pleased with the finished film. It is really an epic and the visuals from what I can see are truly SPECTACULAR. Mr. Marshall and company are going all-out with the sets, photography, art direction, and costumes. Some of the shots are breathtaking and look like Japanese paintings from the period -- the cinematographer must have looked at Hokusai and others... It will be a beautiful work of art in every way. We will have to wait a whole year to see it but it will be worth it!
Sigh. A whole year of waiting...

(11/16/04) These are NOT set photos. They are some photos from the real Gion, Kyoto

Also, some links, including a photo journal and some live videos on modern geisha, have been added at About "Memoirs of a Geisha" page.

(11/12/04) The Sumo scene has been rescheduled again and now it will be filmed mid-December. (thanks Bluenose Kitty)

(11/11/04) Another set report from Memoirs of a Geisha shooting, by Bluenose Kitty.

(11/10/04) A racy and risque scene set at a Kyoto teahouse is set to be filmed this week at the beautiful Yamashiro restaurant in Hollywood, California. It will involve all adult principals.

Some trivial bits from the Memoirs of a Geisha production:

* During the previously reported Thousand Oaks shooting, the makeup that the actresses were in was western-style with a touch of the Geisha look. It wasn't the full-on white face makeup. They wore vividly colored kimonos, obi and very tall shoes.

* Zhang Ziyi wears blue-grey contacts for the filming. (A lot of emphasis is placed on Chiyo/Sayuri's extraordinary blue-grey eyes in the book.)

* Michelle's voice is quite low and husky in this film. Bluenose Kitty's comment is that Michelle sounds a bit like Barbara Stanwyck with her deep authoritative voice and it's right for the character as Mameha is such a commanding presence.

* Michelle and Zhang Ziyi chatted in Mandarin between takes. They seem very friendly like they are old buddies.
(thanks Bluenose Kitty)

(11/08/04) "UDN" (Taiwan) describes Eugenia Yuan's role in Memoirs of a Geisha as Hatsumomo's good friend (Jane's note: must be Korin) who helps Hatsumomo to give Chiyo/Sayuri hard times. It is not a major role but Eugenia Yuan felt very lucky to have a chance to work with Gong Li. They have already filmed a few scenes together.

(11/05/04) The Sumo scene, originally scheduled for Nov. 2 - 4, is now rescheduled for sometime on the week of the 15th at Sony Studios. Weather has changed the shooting schedule here and there. (thanks Bluenose Kitty)

(11/03/04) An exclusive report from the set - THANKS for sharing the story, Bluenose Kitty!

(11/01/04) Eugenia Yuan (The Eye 2), a daughter of Cheng Pei-pei (the actress who played Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), has joined Memoirs of a Geisha cast. She's to play a geisha, according to Taiwan "UDN".

(11/01/04) A hana-machi (i.e., the districts where many geisha girls and women gather) scene was filmed at the Japanese Village in Thousand Oaks last Friday. Apparently it was a scene that just got added. Many extras were needed for the shooting. Too bad I found out too late - or I might have tried to be there. ;-)

A source from the production team said no press conference had been scheduled.

(10/27/04) Several Chinese newspapers published a brief interview with Gong Li. Restricted by her contract, Gong Li said she is not allowed to disclose any details of the production. She said she plays the role of Hatsumomo, a very lively character. "I would not bring shame to Chinese," said Gong Li, who is on her first Hollywood production, "please trust me and be confident on my performance."

A published recent phone interview with Zhang Ziyi's agent confirmed that filming was started more than three weeks ago in Los Angeles. It says shooting in Japan can be expected next January.

(10/26/04) Hong Kong media reported that a press conference/party on Memoirs of a Geisha will be held in early November in the U.S.. Michelle, Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Ken Watanabe, and Koji Yakusho, etc. will be in attendance. Reporters will be invited to visit some actual shooting sets but cameras will not be allowed at the sets as the production companies don't want the details of the production get exposed to public too early.

(10/25/04) Columbia Pictures issued a press release today and officially announced that the production of Memoirs of a Geisha had begun. In addition to locations in the Los Angeles area, Memoirs of a Geisha will also film in Japan and Northern California.

      A Guardian article (U.K. Oct 23rd) reported that Kyoto's geisha districts are distinctly nervous about the production. "According to sources familiar with the production, the film is being tweaked in a way that will dismay Japan aficionados," the article also says, "the geisha's traditional white make-up, for example, has been deemed too scary for American audiences."

(10/23/04) A 30 foot high flowering cherry tree is being built at the Japanese Garden inside the Huntington Library Museum in L.A. area. Parts of a cherry blossom festival scene is scheduled to film in the garden, Monday October 25 (The Huntington is closed on Mondays). Thanks Derrick for providing the following photos which were taken yesterday.

Set photos from the Huntington Museum

The production company has built an actual Japanese Village near Thousand Oaks, a city 39 miles west of Los Angeles and the bulk of the film will be shot there. A large Sumo wrestling scene which involves 300-400 extras will be shot at the Sony Studios during November 2 - 4.

(10/18/04) "The Sun" (Hong Kong) reported that Toei Company, ltd., a Japanese collaborator of the film, is unhappy about the fact that main actresses of the film are Chinese and not Japanese. They are considering stopping the collaboration and possibly refusing to lend their studios for filming.

(10/18/04) Memoirs of a Geisha open casting call:
Saturday, October 23rd, 12pm - 2pm
Central Casting, 220 South Flower St, Burbank, California 91502
Hotline (voice message): 818-503-3113
They are calling for fair skinned Asians, both male and female, all ages, especially Asian men aged between 30 and 50 (300 people will be needed for a special scene). Must have valid working document in U.S.. Dress up well if you go. Do not go to this call if you have been to the open calls in June or September. For detailed instructions, you may call the hotline number listed above.

According to the recorded message, the filming locations for Memoirs of a Geisha include Huntington Garden, shooting sets built at Thousand Oaks, and Sony studios.

(10/15/04) In an interview with "The Times", actress Zhang Ziyi mentioned that in the film she has to speak English - "with a Japanese accent".

Hm. I was hoping the filmmakers wouldn't do it this way. It's fine the film is in either Japanese (with subtitles) or English. But it makes no sense to ask actors speak English with Japanese accent deliberately!

(10/07/04) "Variety" reported that Memoirs of a Geisha was filming at the ornate Belasco Theater in downtown L.A.. "Oscar-winner Rob Marshall and his crew from Chicago, including choreographer John DeLuca, put 200 dancers-extras through a number in a 1930's Kyoto dancehall sequence for the Sony-DreamWorks-SpyGlass film."

A source from a production company said they are mostly filming on sets in Los Angeles at the moment.

The film is aiming for a '05 holiday season release.

(10/06/04) According to a post at IMDB, someone saw a sign for a shooting set of Memoirs of a Geisha in downtown L.A. on Monday and believed they were filming.

(09/29/04) Michelle has returned to L.A. for the shooting of Memoirs of a Geisha, which reportedly (unconfirmed) starts tomorrow.

In a phone interview with Hong Kong's "Oriental Daily", Michelle said she had been having strict traditional geisha training, such as the techniques for pouring tea and wine, kneeling, dancing, and playing musical instruments, etc.. She was spending 10 to 12 hours per day practicing. There are many different hair styles and costumes for her role in the film and she had been spending time trying them out too.

(09/28/04) Michelle is taking a short vacation back to Hong Kong (see News of Sept. 26 & 27). She and the other lead actresses had been in L.A. undergoing special training for their roles in the film, including the postures and walking style. Some of them also needed intensive training in English. Michelle told the reporters that she has been practicing the special way of walking everyday.

The filming of Memoirs of a Geisha is starting soon in Los Angeles. It will last about three months and certain portions will be filmed in Japan.

(09/16/04) Casting news: Japanese actress Kaori Momoi plays the Okiya Head. Korean-American actor Karl Yune (Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid) plays Hatsumomo's secret lover, Koichi.

(09/08/04) Michelle was spotted in Santa Monica today (for more details please see News of Sept. 8) and she said they just started rehearsal on Memoirs of a Geisha.

(08/26/04) Casting news: actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Pearl Harbor, The Last Emperor) will play The Baron, a patron of Mameha.

(08/23/04) It is not confirmed elsewhere, but Taiwan "UDN" reported that Sammo Hung will play a Japanese general who is recommended by Mameha to Sayuri.

(08/20/04) After years in development hell - with at least three directors attached to the project at various points - the film is finally set to start.

Yesterday in a Columbia Pictures press release, the producers and director announced principal casting for the ensemble drama: Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) has been signed and will be joined by a spectacular ensemble of international actors including Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Gong Li (Raise The Red Lantern), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Youki Kudoh (Snow Falling on Cedars) and Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance) who are in final negotiations to star in the feature film.

Michelle will portray Mameha, the elegant and experienced geisha who becomes Sayuri's older sister and mentor. Filming will begin next month in Los Angeles and Japan.

Based on a 1997 best-selling novel of the same title by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha tells the story of a young girl from a tiny fishing village in Japan who became a geisha in order to survive.

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( page created: 08/20/04,   last modified: 11/14/08 )