The Keanu Reeves starring kung-fu epic, 47 Ronin, opened here in the UK, the US and most of the rest of the world on Boxing Day, with disastrous results. There were early warning signs when the film opened, and tanked, in Japan. As the story is based on Japan’s national myth of 47 Ronin, if it was going to do well, it should have at least done strong business there. Sadly it didn’t, and now the film has opened to the rest of the world, and it going to make a huge loss for Universal Pictures.
Directed by commercials director Carl Rinsch, 47 Ronin was made on a budget of $175 million. The film was delayed by a year, and Rinsch was reportedly removed from the editing room to make way for Universal’s co-chair, Donna Langley. The move was made to allow reshoots after the film-maker turned in a cut in which Reeves’ character was entirely absent from the film’s climactic scenes.
The movie is based on Japan’s national myth, the story of a group of early 18th-century samurai who became leaderless warriors – ronin – after their master was forced to kill himself by court official Kira Yoshinaka. The warriors waited a year before mounting an attack on 14 December 1702, murdering Yoshinaka, turning themselves in and then committing ritual suicide.
However, Rinsch’s version has added fantasy elements like giants and witches, and even Reeves’ character Kai is not part of the original story. His half British, half Japanese character was created for the film.
47 Ronin opened in the UK on Boxing Day, and the US on Christmas Day. In the US the film has only made an embarrassing $7 million so far, and as it stands the films worldwide box office haul is a shocking $13 million. The film will not make even half of its money back, and Universal is poised to write off a huge loss. The film has achieved the worst opening of 2013 for a film with a budget over $150 million.
“Universal Pictures regularly evaluates its film slate for potential adjustment,” a studio spokesperson told Variety. “In the case of 47 Ronin, we adjusted film costs in previous quarters and as a result our financial performance will not be negatively impacted this quarter by its theatrical performance.”
You can read Doc’s review of the film here.
47 Ronin is directed by Carl Rinsch and written by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini. The cast includes Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Rinko Kikuchi, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Ko Shibasaki.
47 Ronin arrived in UK cinemas on Boxing Day.
Keanu Reeves makes an explosive return to action-adventure in 47 Ronin. After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves)—a half-breed they once rejected—as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witchcraft and wondrous terrors.
As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into the hero who inspires this band of outnumbered rebels to seize eternity.