Keanu Reeves newest film 47 Ronin is no Fast and Furious 6 and is losing money faster than a Porsche Carrera GT can off the starting line. 47 Ronin is on track to be one of the biggest movie flops of 2013 with a current loss of $175 million being reported. Universal Pictures, who saw the writing on the wall, began writing off losses for the film even before it’s opening. Fortunately the studio had large blockbusters like Fast and Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2 to cover the loss.
47 Ronin is based on the story of a half-Japanese slave that joins a band of Samurai on a quest to restore honor and revenge the death of their master. The Japanese story dates back to the 18th century and has been brought to screen by famed Japanese directors such as Kenji Mizoguchi and Kon Ichikawa.
While the New York Times felt the movie moved slowly and was a cultural specific story making it difficult to keep an American actor at the forefront; some critics unloaded all barrels on Reeves and 47 Ronin. io9 took the review to a different level referring to the movie as campy, boring and nonsensical and rounded out the review by noting that this classic story of loyalty and revenge had been developed into a “stew of crap.” Other critics pointed out that the story is a national treasure and a historic moment for Japan. Having Reeves playing a secondary character supported by fantasy like witches and forced into the forefront does not help the cause of the studio or the director. Some have pointed out that studio meddling was the downfall of the movie. Universal Pictures may have felt the original minimum film time of Reeves was disproportionate to what they had paid for the movie star and held the film for re-shoots and more face time from Reeves. Perhaps they were looking for Reeves and 47 Ronin to be their second blockbuster like Fast and Furious 6 but it was not.
The movie was originally expected in 2012 but the studio demanded more re-shoots and more screen time for Reeves. The studio also postponed the movie by a year. This was an unexpected move for a movie with a large star in the cast such as Reeves. The studio may have been signalling a lack of confidence in first-time feature-length director Carl Rinsch. Rinsch previously wrote and directed 3 short length films including, The Gift, Lovely Weather for Rain, and The Quiz.
The Hollywood Reporter has stated that not only did 47 Ronin hit the American holiday season market softly it also did poorly in Japan the month prior. The film opens in Australia Jan. 14 but there is little expectation that the movie will make up its production cost of $175 million. Some say this was to be Reeves’ comeback film but Reeves will need another vehicle to stage his career comeback. Fortunately for Reeves reports have surfaced that Bill & Ted 3 has been written and only needs funding. Reeves was recently interviewed on the subject where he confirmed the status of the film saying the story was about Bill and Ted in their 50’s and he felt the story was all there. While 47 Ronin is not going to be Reeves’ or the studio’s next Fast and Furious 6 blockbuster they may be able to fall back on a tried and true formula of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Written by Anthony Clark