‘47 Ronin’: The Inside Story of Universal’s Samurai Disaster

47 Ronin

How postproduction fights and bad buzz led to one of Hollywood's biggest flops of 2013

47 Ronin,” an old Japanese fable about a group of rogue samurai, ends in a horrible bloodbath. It’s a fitting conclusion for a big-budget adaptation that has left Universal deeply in the red, having suffered one of the costliest box office flops of 2013.

When executives at Universal huddled in 2008 to mull over the story, they envisioned “Lord of the Rings” set in the East circa the 1700s. An early treatment of the script was jam-packed with dazzling sword fights. And the material seemed like a potential home run for the U.S. and the lucrative Asian market (where the similarly themed Tom Cruise vehicle “The Last Samurai” had generated disproportionately large grosses in 2003). It was one of the first projects the studio greenlit under chair Adam Fogelson, who was pushed out of his perch in September.

Universal executives declined to be interviewed for the story.

The 3D martial arts project turned out to be a disappointment on many fronts. After months of bad buzz and two postponed release dates, “47 Ronin” finally bowed on Christmas in the U.S. and grossed only $20.6 million in its first five days at the domestic box office. Overseas, it’s fared even worse — with $2.8 million in its home turf of Japan since its Dec. 6 debut. The film’s gargantuan budget of $175 million (it cost even more before tax breaks) means it could lose the studio $120 to $150 million, especially once marketing is factored in.

Universal took the unusual step of announcing prior to the film’s domestic opening that it had already taken an unspecified writedown on the project. It was meant to signal to Comcast shareholders that executives knew they had baked a holiday turkey.

What went wrong?

Several sources close to the project say the ambitious undertaking never found its footing. The story kept changing through rewrites and post-production, as the studio and first-time director Carl Rinsch couldn’t find a balance between the classic Eastern tale and the more Western touches like a CGI dragon and the addition of an American star, Keanu Reeves, to a mostly Japanese cast.

The first draft of the script by Chris Morgan, who has written five of the seven “Fast and the Furious” movies, showed promise. It was slick enough to land on 2008’s Black List of best unproduced work. (A stage direction for a ninja attack read: “It’s like the ambush out of ‘Aliens,’” a clear influence.)

Universal suits were drawn to the idea of creating a unique fantasy world like that of “Avatar” or Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth. The Morgan script made notable additions to the traditional story, including mysterious ogres, doses of black magic and Reeves’ character, a half-breed warrior named Kai.

Fogelson, chairman Donna Langley and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, the studio’s co-president of production, who was a champion of the project since inception (and handled the day-to-day interference), interviewed Rinsch for the directing job. He won them over after he pitched impressively detailed storyboards of the historic samurai backdrops.

Even though he had never directed a feature before, he was a hot name based on his commercial work and a short film, “The Gift,” involving a frenzied robot chase. “He’s pretty amazing in a room,” says a source involved in the making of the film. “He’s very smart and passionate and can make you believe his ambition.”

Though unusual, assigning a novice director to a project so large and complicated is hardly unprecedented, with Disney’s “Tron: Legacy” (directed by Joseph Kosinski) and Universal’s own “Snow White and the Huntsman” (directed by Rupert Sanders) among recent examples.

But “Ronin’s”s tone grew more muddled as the project barreled forward. One point of conflict was that Rinsch kept wanting to make the film more Japanese, almost like an arthouse samurai movie. The studio, understandably, was nervous. The picture needed to play to mainstream audiences across the world in order to break even. It already had a cast made up entirely of Japanese actors like Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki and Tadanobu Asano. (At one point, Japanese-American actors had been considered.)

Reeves, who hasn’t opened a box office blockbuster since the 2008 remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” expressed interest in playing Kai, but he had his own concerns. He was worried that the character wouldn’t feel integrated into the main arc of the story.

Scribe Hossein Amini (“Drive,” “Snow White and the Huntsman”) was brought in for rewrites to broaden Reeves’ character and to simplify some of the dialogue. It turned out that the Japanese actors, who weren’t fluent in English, were having trouble delivering their lines and had to learn them phonetically.

To help them along, Rinsch had his actors say all of their lines in Japanese first and then in English right after — a puzzling decision in an age when such major hits as “District 9,” “Inglourious Basterds” and even the “Fast and the Furious” movies have elected to have their “foreign” characters speak in their native languages, with the dialogue then subtitled in English. And there were more drafts after that: The story added a wicked, shape-shifting sorceress (Rinko Kikuchi) right out of a horror movie.

The budget wasn’t so monstrous until Universal, influenced by Hollywood’s latest obsession, decided to shoot the film in 3D. That’s when “47 Ronin” became the Titanic of samurai movies. The creative team scouted Japan, New Zealand and Australia before deciding that none of those regions looked ancient enough. The film was eventually shot in England and Hungary, with a design team constructing 150,000 square feet of samurai villages for all those close-up 3D shots.

By all accounts, the post-production process was fraught with tension. When Universal executives saw an early cut in 2011, they had concerns about the story and started ordering changes. Another week of shooting was slated so that Reeves could be made more integral to the finale. A 2012 article from the Wrap reported Langley kicked Rinsch out of the editing room, but two highly placed sources deny that happened.

Another source with knowledge of the situation said that in post-production, Universal decided to take the film in a different direction. Rinsch then sought the help of the DGA to ensure his contractual rights were being honored.

A revolving door of crew members came and left. Multiple editors worked on the film, including Gore Verbinski’s longtime editor, Craig Wood. But legendary fix-it guy Stuart Baird (“Skyfall”) took the lone editing credit. To this day, members of the creative team have not seen a final cut of the film, including executive producer Scott Stuber. Variety has learned Stuber departed over creative differences after he helped land Reeves as the star and never made it to the production stages.

Universal hosted a world premiere of the film in Japan — it needed support from the region, where the cast was well recognized. But it never gained traction there, despite being released in an alternate edit specifically designed for Japanese audiences. Market research showed the key demographic of young men didn’t buy enough tickets.

U.S. critics were allowed to preview the film only a few days before it opened. The reviews, embargoed until 36 hours before the American release, were not kind. Universal didn’t spend lavishly on an advertising campaign. By then, the box office prospects for “47 Ronin” were grim.

“47 Ronin” is just one of several risky tentpoles (see “The Lone Ranger” and “R.I.P.D.”) that flopped in 2013. But if those expensive failures raise questions about the viability of mega-budget movies that aren’t sequels, don’t count them out yet. While some executives may now be warier of taking $175 million gambles on unproven talent and material, there’s also the fear that a studio may miss out on the next big thing. Which, to put things in samurai terms, is a fate worse than death.

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  1. kirbyfan says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, I absolutely loved this movie, I bought it on blu-ray and enjoy it to this very day!

    I just think some people over analyze!

  2. it failed because americans in general don’t know how to make movies…..reality is more interesting than the soppy crap hollyweird always comes up with….like Argo, this crappy movie is only about 1 % based on the facts….have the balls to follow a story about 90% truthfully and you have something compelling….plus the fact that Keanu Reeves is almost as bad an actor as the talentless Nicholas Cage, really, I could have made a much better film that would have made money.

  3. Catalina says:

    It is important to establish and set up your shelter before the sun goes down.

  4. Ian says:

    Reeves at his most wooden, rivalling Hayden Christensen in the prequels… a meandering and very silly version of the japanese folk tale, stodgy direction and stupid alien-monks in a big cave which combined to reduce this to a yawnfest of a boring, way overlong movie. No wonder it bombed at the box office. I’m astonished by any +ive reviews I ever see about Keanu Reeves, he’s just a big wooden puppet who somehow finds his way through scenes – not one of which is embellished by his presence. No doubt he’s a great guy, kind to his mother and all – but I wish he’d be kind to moviegoers and find something else to do. He’s got maybe three facial expressions at most, his default one always looks to me like he’s pleased he didn’t forget his lines (again) – and as for his vocal delivery, my 20 year old niece in a drama college course could inject more character into Hickory Dickory Dock than he did in this direly dreadful piece of tom-fool flickery.

  5. Railen says:

    Why was this a flop? this was actually a good film.

  6. Peaches says:

    L have seen 47 Ronin twice & l think that it was a good movie probably the fact that it was part of the Japanese history it was a wonderful movie but everyone has their own opinion

  7. Solara says:

    Really good flick, surprisingly offers movie-going diversity while it presents a historical backdrop for modern cinema that’s uncommon in today’s (younger) hip-hop genre. This movie will be hard to imitate, the cast exceeded (this) viewer’s expectation by learning something new about Japanese culture. Nice exciting tale of adventure, bravery, and daring that was well played, I thought.

  8. desiree says:

    Idk wat pple are talking about that was a epic movie…they don’t kno wat a gd movie is…Altho I didn’t like how d king was an ASSHOLE always killing pple…..but I loved it….

  9. Roy Hansford says:

    Cant understand why 47 Ronin has had so much bad critism, Its a great film compared with alot thats out there, the sets where fantastic, it was not over done with CGI, loved it. Royzee

  10. David Lloydy says:

    I just watched this movie tonight and thought it was ok but I really love movies .
    I do see why it was a flop though . I also didn’t know that it was based in historical fact which I think you could feel in the weight of the actors performances and direction at some points . It’s also clear at some points throughout the picture of The Lord of the rings influence . For some reason I thought about LOTR when the samurai were riding to the sword maker village I believe it was and again when the son with the bow was firing off at people . From that first killing of the beast scene ,at the start I knew it wasn’t going to be great but I liked how they built the tension through showing Keanu’s bloody hands with the guy noticing but not saying anything . Oh and there’s another similarity to the film “drive ” which this article mentions and that reminded me of the ” dirty hands ” meet scene in that movie . I agree with alot of the commenters about many things including even if for the simple fact it was an historical event and there have been many Japanese film versions of this story , that like last samurai or other foreign films mentioned , subtitles should have been used throughout the film to show respect . I didn’t really feel the 3D was necessary either but I think that has more to do with theatres and digital vs film etc . Hmmmm what else ….oh ya so there’s that skull guy on the poster who’s in the film for about a minute , yet he’s bigger than the dragon girl on the poster . Weird , but maybe in a different version he plays a more significant role or maybe they cut scenes I dunno but I thought that’s was weird . The film did look beautiful but a lot of it was very predictable and you can kinda feel there was many hands on it and it was being pulled in different directions which is too bad because of course the original story scaled down like a ” last samurai ” could have been epic but even with the supernatural and cgi addictions I think it could have been better . I liked Keanu in his role and I thought they did a good job of fitting him into the arc of the story but again the marketing is just off because if he look above at the poster it says ” seize eternity ” which again is ridiculous and misleading and yes I get why someone would think putting that on the poster would be a good idea but as we are all here to observe upon and ponder this film the
    Moment is really the thing that needs/ needed to be seized and they didn’t seize those moments in the trailer or in alot of the film and just fell back on copying other movies and writing in filler . The first piece of marketing material for this film should have said in huge words ” based on the amazing true historical events ” . The things that these men did are qualities we can all relate to and admire but don’t make it about the action and 3d because that’s just a by product of the things that we truly love about the samurai and the genre . Honesty . Loyalty . Respect which was there but not on every page .

  11. career suicide for the director! hollywood always does this, they see someone with some talent and through him a 150 million dollar budget and say ok go make a blockbuster kid!
    LOL well this is what destroys careers!

  12. James Katt says:

    The problem is there were too many cooks and an inexperienced director who wrecked the great script written by Chris Morgan. First, this film should have had a solid and experienced producer – like Steve Spielberg. Second, this film should have had a great director – not a novice. Third, the protagonist has to have a central role. The story had Keanu grafted into the story – bad move. Fourth, respect the culture by having the Japanese actors speak in Japanese, not having them sound out words they cannot even understand.

    This could have been great. But the producers and director were simply bad.

  13. Jake says:

    Pacific Rim did over 100 million in box office in China alone. Those type of numbers can’t be ignored by Hollywood. Foreign box office now easily surpasses domestic grosses on big action movies.

  14. sepakushite says:

    Giving 170 million to a first time director is where this first went wrong. I saw this film and this could have easily been contained to something more like 13 Assassins from genius Takeshi Miake. Director jail for Mr Rinsch until we see him do something with a few million bucks thats worth looking at.

  15. Bill Gonzalez says:

    The story line was promising. The fantasy embellishment wasn’t a good fit for the historical event. I think a pure fantasy adventure or a historical action movie would have fair better at the box office. While watching the 3D movie version I removed my glasses a couple of times and couldn’t notice any significant difference with and without the glasses.

  16. Kev says:

    Just ain’t got a clue, a good plot to actual event minus the dragon etc, but with all Hollywood films they added the fictional monsters to the equation, end of the day if you said its rubbish then that’s your own doing, as you bring critics you look into everything. As normal commission goers we don’t, so maybe before your critical comments view it without knowing what’s happened behind the scenes.

    Any peaky blinders rule

  17. Oliver says:

    Japan is not “home turf” for this movie because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual 18th-century historical event. If the Japanese had made a movie about the Revolutionary War with Beat Takeshi playing George Washington and his troops riding into battle on My Little Ponies, how well do you think that would’ve done in America?

    • Hasdi Bravo says:

      I have a better analogy. How about we have Abraham Lincoln who moonlights as vampire hunter, with his personal valet and close friend William H. Johnson as his faithful sidekick? xP

      • Row12seat4 says:

        Yes! That’s a much better analogy. This was fiction with a play on history… but the bottom line is: never shoot a movie like this for 3D. What the heck is it with 3D anyway? It wasn’t that long ago that NO movies were shot specific for 3D – no it seems they consider it for almost all movie production. It’s not needed folks!

  18. Dave Coleman says:

    I would have gone to see the movie, but as soon as I saw Keanu reeves was the “star”, I decided not to go. Period.

  19. Conclusions drawn on 47 Ronin based on internet comments:

    – It failed because it was too Japanese
    – It failed because it wasn’t Japanese enough
    – It shouldn’t have had any Hollywood actors
    – It should have had *more* Hollywood actors
    – It’s great that they kept the original ending out of respect for the Japanese
    – They should have changed the ending and then more people would like the movie
    – No one wanted to watch this because Keanu was in it
    – Keanu was the *only* reason anybody watched this.

    Carry on, humans. Your continued contradictions shall be used to power my time vortex.

  20. mcstack says:

    I would like to offer a couple of insights regarding the fate of 47 Ronin failure in the “Asian market” mentioned at the beginning of this article.

    1) The “Asian market” consists of very diverse and sometimes-at-odds countries. The connection of this movie to a Japanese historical story often used to illustrate traditional Japanese values of the honor of loyalty and glory of sacrifice and the mainly Japanese cast spelled doom for this movie from the start in China and South Korea. There was never any hope for this movie, at this time, being embraced in those to major markets.

    2) The movie also faced obstacles here in Japan, the only place where 47 Ronin ever had any hope of making money. First, the addition of all the fantasy elements really took the well known, traditional story too far beyond where people were willing to go with it. 47 Ronin would have had a better chance for success in Japan if it had a different title – spinning itself as it really was intended to be…a samurai “Lord of the Rings.” Next, there is a suspicion in Japan that the release of the 47 Ronin caused the release of the Hobbit 2 to be delayed for two and a half months until February 28, 2014. Some people, including me, actually advocated boycotting 47 Ronin in protest of the delay of the Hobbit 2.

  21. Shofumi says:

    The original ’47 Ronin’ story was based on historical facts, it was not a fable! The Hollywood’s version is. I can’t believe your chief film critic and film editor are so lazy they couldn’t even Google that fact. It makes their arguments less worthy of reading.

  22. Kevin M says:

    LIke it or not, this is the film from 2014, along with Upstream Colors, and WWZ, that goes into the archives. Not Her, not Hustle, and not the rest of the preprogrammed good-evil flicks that suffuse the blockbuster (anybody seen the year’s blanched fare: IM3, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim? preplanned explosions by numbers) Why? Because it’s saying something new and saying it visually. Anybody remember the reviews for Blade Runner or The Thing? They were deadly-panned, the acting was savaged, the meaning of the film ignored and lost in a hatred: piñata-by-review. The mood of both films: downers. And that’s what’s here, an antithetical blockbuster, trying to rip us out of the emotional desert that Marvel and DC and Peter Jackson have led us to. Now generations later we’ve revised our views of Blade Runner and The Thing (both are now called masterpieces), and very likely, Ronin’s far more complex ideas of roles and rules and duels will make it the one we have to watch a few more times to absorb. I enjoyed Stuart Baird’s 47 Ronin, I probably would have loved Rinsch’s version.

  23. Nat says:

    The problem with this film is that the script was bad in the first place, it was constantly re-written during shooting (as with all films). The only reason this film is anywhere near less of a disaster than he “Rinsch” would’ve made it, is due to the studio surrounding him with the most talented HOD’s they could muster. He should thank his lucky stars for being able to even talk to these people, let alone be fortunate enough for them to work on a film with him. Sadly I think he is too arrogant to realise this. I went to see it yesterday and it is no way as bad as critics are making it out to be, it just isn’t good enough for the amount of money it cost. The blame for this is at the directors door I’m afraid as the direction was indeed the weakest link.

  24. M. says:

    “It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.”
    — J. R. R. Tolkien


  25. 47 Ronin was good old fashioned entertainment with modern touches (CGI). Why can’t a movie be released, left alone and enjoyed without all the doom & gloom of box office receipts, constant predictions and negativity?

  26. Mike says:

    It was confusing on several fronts: Japanese speaking accented English, Keanu’s character being on the periphery of the story, the other samurai being underdeveloped, on a conceptual level, a fantasy take on a real life story. I would’ve loved to see a more realistic, Last Samurai-like take.

  27. Kat Kingery says:

    I saw 7 Ronin yesterday. Overall, I liked the movie. I also like Reeves low key style. My disappointment with it would be that they didn’t develop more of a history around its star (Reeves), so we could be more attached to his character. Then there was the less then happy ending. Since they diverted so much from the original “legend” why not give the audience something to be happy about (romance) between Reeves and the Princess instead of killing him off too. He was never a “true” samurai, so letting him live would have made more sense to the audience.

    • Row12seat4 says:

      I liked the movie – a lot. I’d see it again? Why? Because I took it at face value: it’s fiction, it’s got magic (dragons, witches, etc.) and action. You’re looking for accuracy? Get a BOOK and read it. Otherwise, stay out of the theaters. Accuracy in a Hollywood movie, who ever heard of such a thing?!?

  28. Greg Davis says:

    Look at these huge bombs (47, Lone Ranger,john carter).. And so on these movies are bad because the source material is not revelant for the masses to go out and see them in theaters. These huge budgeted movies could have been scaled down tremendously and you still could have got the same audience to go to the movies. People are not going to the movies with there families to see a Keanu reeves samurai movie. So for the few that liked this movie, the other 99 percent will wait to see it but not in theaters

    • Chris Fenner says:

      So what makes a movie “relevant”? Can we call a movie about blue alien people (Avatar) “relevant”? It was probably the underlying story and themes that made it feel relevant, not necessarily the alien setting. That kind of relevance could have happened in a samurai film. Relevance is a fuzzy term, and relevance does not equate with being family-friendly or successful. The Expendables movies are financially successful and relevant to people who enjoy explosive action, but they are not family-friendly. Blue is the Warmest Color will be relevant to some but not for most families and not a blockbuster.

      Having said that, I do agree with you that the scale of the film was its own undoing. Very risky. As others have pointed out, Hunger Games was made for less than half that price and was more successful. Throwing money at a movie will not always make it better.

      • Greg Davis says:

        But avatar had an established director James Cameron and an all star cast. Not to mention it was marketed very well and family friendly and it looked somewhat original concept graphics and art. I dislike avatar but from a business money making standpoint it’s a good sell, unlike 47. Avatar had like 10 other things going for it to make it succesful. Just saying

  29. Paul Lane says:

    Hollywood, not too smart and it shows. Perhaps if they employed some people from UC Berkeley instead of Entertainment law at USC/UCLA they would know why this film stinks from the get go. No takers? Not surprised.

    • Mr_Explosion says:

      The problem isn’t that they need more Berkeley lawyers instead of USC/UCLA entertainment lawyers…its that there are too many lawyers in the entertainment industry already. We need more story tellers, and less lawyer and MBA types who’s creativity ends at a marketing survey.

  30. Josh says:

    What is it with you people? You think, oh, they didn’t throw enough advertising at it so the audiences didn’t show up. Like most people are for sale at any price to watch your turgid crap. I saw early ads for the movie and thought, wow, are you kidding me? You’re taking a national Japanese story that has real heart and turning it into a fairy tale with Keanu Reeves and ogres and dragons because Screenwriting 101 story beats probably play better than the original Japanese story? Are you people certifiably insane? Even in this Variety article you keep referring to the source material as a “fable.” You bleeping callous bleeping lazy bleeping bleeps. You’re too lazy and pathetic to take 5-seconds to even Google it. Forty-six of the Ako samurai are interred at Sengakuji Shrine you bleeping BLEEPS.

    Let me clarify this for you. Here… Zhang Zimou is gonna make I HAD A DREAM with the fictional character Martin Luther KIng played by Zhang Ziyi as a halfbreed African-Chinese American who leads an army of purple panda bears at the Battel of Iwo Jima a la Lord of the Rings. Oh, and Mickey Mouse. Sounds good right? Should do well in America. After all, it’s chock full of Americana.

    Your’e all fired. All of you. Get out of my office.

  31. Ted Trent says:

    I actually loved the “overall” movie. I simply HATED, HATED, HATED the end. That’s the only problem with the film.

  32. Greg Davis says:

    You people are missing the point this has nothing to do with if this is a bad or good movie, it’s the fact there is no demand for this movie to be seen in theaters. Of all the movies in theaters I am not going to see this one. Who’s the demographic for this movie and who is it marketed too? Kids, teens, adults?

    • M. says:

      To whoever wants to see something different than the usual feel-good Hwood cotton candy.

      • Greg Davis says:

        This movie should have never been made for this much, hunger games got made for 78mil$ and the books were popular before the movie. This movie is just a giant shit storm of how to make a inflated piece of crap

  33. Skandar says:

    Wow the author really loves to hear himself talk huh? I hate when the press tries to over-analyze a film’s failure. A movie is either good or it’s not.
    This is not another Ishtar. It’s a decent movie. It just didn’t connect with U.S. bottom line. NOBODY cares about fat greedy studio execs or any of their BS behind the scenes.

    • CitizenTM says:

      Hello!? The readers of this magazine mostly are, or were until recently, from the film industry. And they not only want this kind of analysis, they need it.

      Go read People magazine or something…

    • Chris Fenner says:

      I care. Making a movie is a creative art, one that is complicated by studio politics. You might be right that the final product is really what matters, but the point of the article is to try to explain why the film was ultimately not good, thus the analysis. Some of us like the analysis. Maybe someone else can learn from this mistake.

      You mention the movie not connecting with the U.S. bottom line. Box office success is not always predictable, and this movie very well could have been successful (like The Last Samurai, as the author mentions). Why does a movie not connect? Hard to say, but this is worse than just not connecting, it’s a legitimate flop. Some bad decisions were involved here. I think the original vision for this film could have done well under a modest budget, a commitment to artistry over commercialism, a different release date, and other practical issues.

  34. DV says:

    The criticism about not using subtitles is false and misleading. There are huge differences between having subtitles in chunks of your film, or having one or two characters speak through them, and then having your *entire* film subtitled.

  35. Paula says:

    I loved the movie – it was stunning to look at. And I love Keanu Reeves because he is one of the very few actors you hardly read about in the gossip press.
    Yes, the story line was predictable but which one of the blockbuster’s story lines isn’t?
    If you watch movies as entertainment, without thinking about the characters “growing” throughout the movie or speaking their native language etc. you should be satisfied. I am and I would certainly watch it again :)

  36. Ksera says:

    Unnecessarily long article. All you had to do to explain why nobody wanted to see this turd was say that Keanu Reeves was going to try to play a samurai instead of a stoned surfer. The casting director on this epic failure should be exiled from Hollywood for all eternity.

  37. Sylvia says:

    My husband and I really enjoyed this movie. I thought the critic’s comments that I read were ridiculous and really helped with how badly this movie failed at the box office.

  38. PSIluvU says:

    This movies is not even close to as bad as everyone makes it out to be. In fact, it is Really good. All the criticisms seem like some kind of witch hunt

  39. wendy allen says:

    it’s a fantastic film…it’s a film…it’s not freakin’ rocket science…nor is it brain surgery. I enjoyed it…loved it actually and do not feel one bit sorry for any dollar lost on universal’s part for this endeavor !! I feel more for their tragically underpaid park employee’s who are lucky to get one day of work a week at minimum wage. nope no tears for the wad spent to make this art happen. it’s a tax write off -always was-. stop bashing the film…come on can’t you just sit back and enjoy the ride instead of dissecting everything ! remember lights, camera, action and just roll film to escape reality. it’s original and unique with a hint of reality for you that need to have reality in your face ! bring back the imagination please oh please oh please !!!! oh wait they’re gonna remake which film again…ooooh goodie!! pbllllllltttttttttttttttt

  40. Usagi says:

    I had a feeling this was going to happen.

    • Robert Whalen says:

      Fable? Fable? Would the author of this article consider Pearl Harbor a Fable? The history of the Ronin is so ingrained in Japanese culture that the film released is cannot be viewed as anything but a disgraceful mockery of the Japanese society. Shame, shame, shame!

  41. david says:

    ““47 Ronin,” an old Japanese fable about a group of rogue samurai, ”

    The story of the 47 ronin is not a fable, it actually happened. From the trailer it looks like the movie added impossible cgi creatures, I think a straight forward telling without the fantasy would be more interesting because the story is a psychological drama as well. Missed opportunity.

    • Andreas says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I would have bought a ticket for a “47 ronin”-movie based on the original story, without silly and awful looking cgi-fantasy-elements. Such a Movie would have been cheaper and more successful and would probably have been a commersial hit rather than disaster.

  42. iakashpatil says:

    whatever man. a first time director for a $175m film that too with Keanu Reaves. No one wants to watch him.

  43. John says:

    Why didn’t you guys mention why Carl Rinsch really got the job? His girlfriend (now wife? not sure) was the daughter of Tony Scott. He was originally slated to direct Alien 5 before Ridley pushed him out and re-fashioned it as Prometheus. I’m sure some of that probably had to do with his getting a $200 mil picture as his first film.

  44. Mikey M says:

    So, the movie failed because the studio wanted a 3-D Lord of the Rings. It seems nowadays films are made by a Committee.

  45. Ryan S says:

    47 RONIN wasn’t press screened for the majority of working critics. Only select coastal/paper types and junketeers were allowed early access.

    As far as I’m concerned, it opened cold.

  46. Ivan says:

    Here’s a crazy thought – spend your efforts in making an original, interesting movie and stop trying to create the next big set a sequels. Continue to take your audience for granted and you’ll continue to have bomb after bomb.

  47. Jmoviegoer says:

    Present Japan is different from Japan of the time when Last samurai made a big hit. The present Japanese young men does not watch hollywood movies.

    The nationalism increases.
    「The wind rizes」made a big hit this year in Japan.It is a story of the man who designed Zero fighters in conflict with U.S. forces in World War II.
    「Eien no Zero」makes a hit now.It is a story of the soldier who fought on Zero fighter in conflict with U.S. forces in World War II.

    If The wind rizes wins Academy Award,tha nationalism will increase more,and Jpanaese will not watch hollywood movies more and more.

  48. Scott says:

    Hey, it was better than john carter–and less expensive! Still, it was kind of a bore, mainly because it was based on japanese cartoons. And why would a guy who made COMMERCIALS not want to make a “commercial” film?

  49. Andy says:

    If the director isn’t passionate about making a commercialized Hollywood blockbuster from the very beginning, we end up with a bunch of businessmen running the show. There are master directors out there who can pull this off through their unique ways and still keep the system happy. It sounds like Carl should’ve just made “47 Ronin” specifically for the art house crowd. Would have perhaps impressed. Actually, I hope he does. I’m sure the storyboard was impressive, but the ideas that were derived from this young director were clearly not matching the vision of this studio. Why open domestically on Christmas day when the script typically reigns the cinema. This has definitely a producing issue. Still have faith in Carl and Universal.

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