Keanu Reeves’ ‘47 Ronin’ Bombing: Universal Prepares for Major Loss

47 Ronin wright down

Studio confirms it took an unspecified writedown

Universal Pictures has acknowledged that “47 Ronin” is a loser, disclosing that it’s taken the ususual step of writing down some if its $175 million cost prior to the current quarter.

The samurai tentpole, starring Keanu Reeves, opened Christmas Day and is projected to earn under $20 million through Sunday — the worst debut for a $150 million-plus movie in 2013.

PHOTOS: Hollywood’s Biggest Flops of 2013

The film finished sixth on Thursday with a meager $3.4 million.

Internationally, “47 Ronin” has opened in 14 territories for a total of $10 million through Wednesday. Though the film’s opening two weeks ago in Japan was dire, it finished first in its Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan openings.

Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp., issued a statement confirming the writedown but did not disclose its size.

“Universal Pictures regularly evaluates its film slate for potential adjustment,” the studio said. “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.”

SEE ALSO: “The Hobbit” Sequel Crosses $500 Million Worldwide

Universal saw solid performances this year from “Fast and Furious 6” and “Despicable Me 2.” It’s finishing third in overall U.S. box office with more than $1.4 billion in grosses, trailing Warner Bros. and Disney.

Earlier this year, Disney took a writedown on “The Lone Ranger” after losing nearly $200 million on the Johnny Depp Western.

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  1. Kristina Lord Linde says:

    Laura is spot on. No matter how hard they try the critics can’t bury an excellent film once it IS out. Slowly but surely an audience is snowballing through the good old word of mouth recommendation to friends via social media and phone.

  2. Laura says:

    @NicSchober: Wolf of wall street soars 47 ronin bombs. Once again America chooses hookers and blow over creativity and imagination….. Classic…. No surprise. America is prevedibile.

    • Stella says:

      Yes, American “critics” are certainly predictable. Excellent movie. And no, Reeves isn’t the ‘star’, the narrative is built around Oishi and Reeve’s character, Kai. Did they need an A-lister to sell this? Of course, in the U.S./European market. DUH. The rest of the cast is Japanese, and were stellar. Kai is half Asian, so the casting of Reeves was spot on. I’ve decided to hereby forgo paying theater ticket prices to any “critic’s choice” movie, because they obviously are completely out of touch with what “Flyover folk” want in entertainment. If a movie is panned by critics – it’s a definite ‘must see’ for me! Just saw this one for the second time! Pity, the new Cohen brothers movie looked delightfully quirky, but an oath is an oath. Just have to wait until Netflix has it. As well as Wolf, and certainly Hobbit Movie #2 (whatever they call it) Talk about desecrating a classic! YIKES – Tolkien must be spinning right now….and who is paying all the ‘critics’ to trash Reeves every movie? Interesting. Tadanobu Asano is WICKED hot, by the way.

  3. Laura says:

    critics have deliberately destroyed the film, many months before it came out without seeing it. Vergogna vergüenza shame. #47 ronin

  4. Ran says:

    Glad I didn’t pay attention to the reviews.I enjoyed the film. I think Keanu Reeves fit much better in his role in this movie than TC did in his Samurai movie. Good story and parts well played by all the actors. I would love to find a site that only gives fan reviews of movies. Not sure what the critic’s motivation was for knocking this one.

  5. says:

    Who was the genius that thought this movie would be a hit? Perhaps, as an episodic television series on FX,or AMC, but no way was this film ever going to generate positive buzz with Keanu Reeves as the star.

    Good premise, wrong medium.

  6. Jamie Tine says:

    so the twelve years a slave guy is okay to get mad at Italy for featuring brad pitt on their movie poster, but nobody says, “why is universal selling us a white guy as an asian in a movie about samurai?” LOL, it’s so comical. Only whites can be racist, and only black people can call people racists, everyone else, nobody gives a damn. Can’t people see how this demonstrates how fundamentally screwed up our country is when it comes to race? One group gets to bully everyone into feeling guilty, for scraps, and everyone else is nuts if you don’t like being bullied. It has nothing to do with color, it has everything to do with the bizarre behavior I’m witnessing. There was a brief moment there, in the late 90’s I felt like, as a country we were reaching level ground, and I was full of optimism. Instead it seems the oppressed have become the aggressors, and now, nobody is happy. That’s not how getting along and living together works. didn’t mean to go on a rant, but I see one article, then this one, and I can’t figure out why one is okay and the other isn’t.

  7. Kristina Lord Linde says:

    And you are? What in your tirade distinguishes you from the masses of cynical bitter numb and resentful people? The point is the overall beauty and success of the film 47 Ronin.

  8. Will Smith says:

    The idiot that thought Keanu was an actor is dumber than a bag of hammers. He’s a bigger moron that Keanu is. The guy couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag.

    • ted says:

      I’m not going to attempt a Keanu, not new joke that I am sure has bebn over done, but if I were him, I would be thankful I made a pile off money off of one movie twenty years ago and run for the hills with my money never to return to Hollywood…Keanu gives those of us with zero talent hope.:)

  9. Why not make the protag Asian? Duh!?!?

  10. Kristina Lord Linde says:

    Pepper head Sherman: Brilliant assessment!

  11. Pepperheadsherman says:

    GOOD FILM. I am surprised this film is dubbed a “loser”. I wasn’t in the mood for this choice – I gave my guy friend the choice of film. That said – half way through I leaned over to him and said “Good choice! I’m really enjoying this!” Sure, Keanu Reeves has a distinctly monotone acting skill – but it perfectly fit his character! If you pretend he behaved like a cardboard cutout on purpose it works – and his character had good reason to try to avoid drawing attention. I was entranced by the effects – which I feel augmented the story and didn’t distract from it as happens in so many movies where effects just saturate every scene. I get tired of martial arts movies with endless spinning and flying – but here again – nice balance. And the fact that the 47 ronin story diverges from history into a tale of mysticism and good vs evil isn’t a surprise. The only surprise is that only a Hollywood actor and not an American character was worked into the movie to save the day as was done in The Great Escape, and U-571. (And yes, I know Keanu Reeves is Cdn!).

  12. Kristina Lord Linde says:

    So happy to see there are other untainted clear and thoughtful people out there. I hope more ignore the overly touted critics and go see 47 Ronin!

  13. James Harlow says:

    Do not listen to the critics. This is the biggest surprise of the year. It is a beautiful, well acted, emotionally involving film. I loved it. The cinematography was superb. It is one of my favorite films for 2013.

  14. Dusted and Disgusted says:

    Everytime I see Keanu I hear him say “huh…woah” in that dim witted beach bum post bong hit drawl… now Keanu and a bunch of samurai just hurts man. No matter how well its filmed or any cultural signifigance. Its still the dude from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure…

    • Kristina Lord Linde says:

      Old memories old relationships get some people all hung up. Move on and live now. Keanu is only one character and didn’t overplay the part. As a mixed blood it was acceptable. Lake House saved him for me. But the star was the collective of the legend and of the many warriors and not just one actor’s performance. Keanu has an apparent love for the Japanese culture and the display of unwavering loyalty in this legend. That is clear. His character was lowly and humble not some duper hero. His character was striving for acceptance only in a very impossible situation. No ego there. I believe Keanu pursues the message and not the Oscar in his choices. Nothing wrong with that on a human level.

  15. Kristina Lord Linde says:

    The critics are ridiculous! 47 Ronin is a beautiful film! If you see only flat and boring YOU are flat and boring. It tells me that the critics need to put a finger into a light socket to feel anything! Hello out there….critics hello? Are you awake? The traditions and culture of Japan may be tough for Americans to swallow, but honor and duty were deeply ingrained, That is something that seems to be disappearing from our American landscape. The love story was believable because it was always a subtle endeavor, not an IN YOUR FACE blazoned ado. American critics must have miserable relationships! The costumes were rich and symbolic of class and kingdom distinction. The magical creatures may be exaggerated but sent home the problem of treachery that challenged the honor and loyalties of the characters. The scenery and sets pull the viewer into the sentiment of every turn in the story. If you are intelligent and understand films that are also of cultural and historical value, the be the independent thinker that you are and go to this film and enjoy! I will highly recommend it and see it again and again in the future. To the small thinking critics…psst THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES! Stop being such cowards and open you eyes!

  16. Laura says:

    Of course , i dont surprise… The critics snobbish, are destoyed this film , a long time ago, first to see it. I dont know why… You wrote very bad things, with unprecedent acrimony. This is shameful to those Who have worked hard and with passion at this movie. I really dont understand this badness. I am italian and i apologize for My english

  17. tomo says:

    47ronin had bad timing in Japan where nationalism is increasing.
    In admiration of Japanese movies, a trend to look down on hollywood movies spreads out.

    「Eien no Zero」mekes a big hit in japan right now.It is the story of the Japanese soldier who fought against U.S. forces with World War II.

  18. Laura says:

    ….. And the title doesn’t indicate at all what it is. So it gets lost in the holiday movie shuffle.

  19. Laura says:

    I know nothing of the story (it is disappointing to read how they messed with a classic Japanese story like that, if that’s true that. BTW – LOL at the image of a Chinese George Washington and Martian red coats!! Haha! Someone make that! If only to piss off Glenn Beck! Haha)

    I had thought the main issue was release time. This looked cool in the trailers, but a holiday release? People want warm and fuzzy, or Pirates/LOTR adventure. If they had chosen another release time, I bet it would have done better. I’d like to see it, but there are other movies I’d rather see first. *shrugs*

    • LIKE IT IS!!! says:

      I have no idea what your point is. You defend the film them make fun of it. I just wasted a few seconds of my life reading your nonsense. And no it isn’t the fact you can’t speak english.

  20. Colin Vickery says:

    Is it just me or has Variety been almost willing 47 Ronin to fail?

    • s2uartrank1n says:

      I’ve seen it – it’s rubbish.

      • Kristina Lord Linde says:

        You are what you see…it was a powerful and beautiful film about loyalties and duty. I am sorry you have nothing in your life to compare these values to. Sacrifice is often painful. You prefer to turn your face away and hide it in the sand with the raw moments? This film was a breath of fresh air that had a challenge in release dates as well. I guess beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder…I saw the beauty, Sorry you missed it.

  21. Gavin train says:

    I think 47ronin looks amazing I can’t waif to see it after the hobbit 2

  22. s2uartrank1n says:

    Saw it – boring, had to fight to stay awake.

  23. tibsTibs says:

    Universally deserved this and who ever thought this was a good idea should be fired. They took a classic Japanese story, cast a white American/Lebanonese actor in the starring role and stuffed it full of Lord of the Rings monster rejects. And then added insult to injury by opening it in Japan! It’s akin to a movie about the American Revolutionary War starring a Chinese George Washington in which the red coats are Martians.

    • Kristina Lord Linde says:

      Mr. Tibs Tibs…your self indulgence is showing…and you have obviously gotten away with it to the point where the subtle awareness of ALL your senses has been dulled by all things over stimulating in your world…ah…alas…you missed it.

    • Keyser says:

      That last bit sounds like the most insanely brilliant movie ever.

  24. Brian James says:

    If they had spent a little of that 175MM budget to market and advertise this film it wouldn’t be bombing as bad… I sense a kamikaze in the 47 ronin camp..

    • Kristina Lord Linde says:

      I agree with you Brian James. It takes only one card to fall the deck no matter how beautiful the creation.

  25. sam says:

    how is it that you fail to mention that it made 7 million on christmas day alone? Hardly a flop, but its in line with walter mitty.

    • What She says:

      It’s still a flop. Check the weekend totals.

    • Greg Davis says:

      For a 175 mil budget it has to make 350 mil before it starts making a profit. Rember the movie theater gets there cut, there along way from making its $ back. Watch out I I used the wrong theirs, pickings has nother better to do then to point it out. “Pickings sorry I am typing this the best I can as your moms blowing me” end quote.

  26. Bjorn Stad says:

    never heard or read a SINGLE WORD about this film… universal wanted it to bomb !

  27. Tj says:

    I can not wait to see this movie.

  28. Sirstevendinsky says:

    one reason it flopped, it was a little to manly.

  29. David Cameron says:

    Does this actually surprise anyone… This movie looked horrible.

  30. Jess says:

    $175 million? Seriously? On Keanu Reeves? Did Universal forget its 2013?

    I can’t even comprehend the foolishness of this situation. I never even heard of this film until now. WHAT THE HELL were they thinking?!?! This is just shameful on all accounts.

  31. Peggy Allen says:

    The movie looks very interesting however, they engendered ill will in the one country it should have done well, Japan, by taking one of their cultural touchstones and debasing it by giving the white actor more prominence over the Japanese actors. Much like giving the pictures of secondary white actors more prominence over the main black character on a poster for a movie about slavery.Plus, didn’t Keanu just have a martial arts movie out a few weeks ago?

    • cadavra says:

      Not to mention drowning it in CGI effects. Very little left but the title and the basic premise.

      The other movie was MAN OF TAI CHI, which was surprisingly sober, effective and respectful to Chinese traditions. Plus it cost a hell of a lot less.

  32. Greg Davis says:

    Huge bomb, but why would u give this movie a budget of 175 mil. It just sounds awful on paper, like Lone Ranger, movies like this shouldn’t even be considered for budgets no more than 50 mil. These studios deserve to loose there ass off on these huge bombs, focus on character development, story and believable acting. Not cgi and Michael bay explosions. But even ones that make money are by no mean masterpieces. Studios should try to get on base not just go for homeruns.

  33. Jiminy Critic says:

    Who’s bright idea was it to open against The Hobbit?

  34. Zariji says:

    A usual, Universal is acting like a telecom company ratherthan a leading entertainment studio. There was no real multi-channel marketing throughout the pre-holiday season nor any real-time trailing available to the studio on Comcasts networks. I went to see the movie as I am in the visual effects industry and thought it was entertainment-worthy of box office recognition — had anyone in most cities even known it had actually opened. Typical cable behavior to use it as a right-off now sending a final slam to a film that just got out of the gate.

  35. DG says:

    I am sorry to hear this, because I thought the trailer sold it well and I was looking forward to catching it.

    — DG

  36. big daddy D says:

    That’s a shame. I was looking forward to seeing this movie.

    • Picking says:

      You can still see the movie, idiot. It actually still exists. Do a movie have to make money for you to watch it?

      • Fustercluck says:

        Why do so many people on the internet have to be such asswholes? Maybe he thought the movie was going to be good based on the trailers, but is disappointed because so many commentors say it’s a stinker. Jerk.

      • Jess says:

        You could have said that without calling them an idiot. Do people on the internet have any manners?

  37. guest says:

    This actor has squandered his career and no studio should’ve taken such a gamble on such an ego.

    • allhaileris says:

      Keanu Reeves gave his Matrix earnings of $80 million to the special effects and costume staff. He bought all the stuntmen Harley Davidson motorcycles. He gives heavily to cancer research. He’s a nice guy, and doesn’t deserve to be trashed. He’s not the greatest actor, and he was up against the Hobbit. Who is the audience for this film? Teen boys? Christmas was a terrible day on which to release this film. Plus the subject matter is not widely appealing. Now if this had been a new Matrix film…

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