×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

’47 Ronin’ Tanks at Japanese Box Office; Is U.S. Doom Next?

Universal's pricey tentpole starring Keanu Reeves hopes to avoid disaster bowing Dec. 25 in the U.S.

If a samurai movie can’t work in Japan, where can it?

Universal execs are asking themselves just that after the weekend’s weak performance of “47 Ronin” in Japan, where the mega-budgeted Keanu Reeves starrer launched ahead of the Dec. 25 Stateside bow, with a paltry estimated $1.3 million from 333 playdates.

The troubling local start did land the film first among foreign pics, though it ranked third overall behind two local-language films.

The Japanese territory is notoriously difficult to crack for international films, since the country has such a strong local market. That is true for nearly every foreign-language film in Japan, but for “47 Ronin,” which not only tells a story famous in Japanese folklore (albeit with great liberties taken), it stars popular local talent including Hiroyuki Sanada.

Also, the poor opening is not just bad news for “47 Ronin” locally as a soft set-up for the very competitive year-end holidays, but the sluggish start could forecast a similar fate elsewhere around the world, especially in the States, where the film doesn’t seem to be building much buzz, despite a marketing campaign already mid-swing.

Some box office analysts have the film pegged to gross just north of $10 million opening weekend, with a domestic cume falling short of $50 million. Such estimates could increase as Universal pours more money into the film’s marketing, however.

“47 Ronin” — which cost at least $175 million to produce, with Elliot Inc. as a financial partner — received one of the lowest consumer engagement scores (a composite based on questions measuring the level of consumer interest in a given movie concept) among holiday films from Piedmont Media Research.

By itself, the film’s score means little, though the soft composite often translates to disastrous box office for expensive pics. Universal’s summer bomb “R.I.P.D.,” for instance, received a score of 137, according to Piedmont. That said, Reeves helped raise “Ronin’s” overall score slightly.

Universal is launching the film in select Asian markets before Christmas Day, followed by 15 territories including the U.K. and Spain during the last weekend of the year.

Low-scoring samurai

How some of the holiday’s highest-profile films rank with audience interest:

Film (Domestic release date): Consumer Engagement Score

  • Lone Survivor (Jan. 10, wide): 235
  • Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 20, wide): 209
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Dec. 25): 170
  • 47 Ronin (Dec. 25): 160

Source: Piedmont Media Research

Popular on Variety

More Data

  • India, South Korea Lead Surge in

    India, South Korea Lead Surge in Asian Production, Rights Spending

    Spending on film, TV and online video content in Asia grew by 12% in 2018, a significant leap from 8% the previous year. The strongest growth came from India and South Korea, with Indonesia and Vietnam following. Data from the latest edition of Asia Video Content Dynamics, published by research and consultancy firm Media Partners [...]

  • Pride Parade and Festival in Salt

    New Study Shows Decline in LGBTQ Acceptance Among Young Americans

    A new study from GLAAD shows a significant decline in LGBTQ acceptance among young Americans aged 18-34. In a national survey among U.S. adults called the Accelerating Acceptance Index, the percentage of young Americans reporting being “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people across seven scenarios dropped from 53% to 45%, marking the second consecutive [...]

  • Majelan

    French Podcast App Majelan Launches With 13 Million Audio Episodes Across 50 Countries

    While the podcast space is heating up with a variety of players including Apple, Audible, Spotify and Luminary, a smaller-yet-promising French app called Majelan is rolling out across 50 countries with an international library of 280 000 audio series, or 13 millions episodes, in 15 languages. Majelan is also kicking off with 20 original or [...]

  • Globe Centred On Asia And Oceania,

    APOS: Online Video Headed for 15% Annual Growth, Disrupting Asia Markets

    A blistering 15% annual growth of online video will give the Asian video industry (TV, pay-TV, home entertainment and streaming) a growth rate nearly double that of North America for the next five years. According to a new report from Media Partners Asia, published on the eve of the APOS conference in Indonesia, Asia’s online [...]

  • FICCI-Frames: Digital Growing, But TV Still

    FICCI-Frames: TV Dominates India's Entertainment Sector (Study)

    India’s creative industries sector, comprising television, film, OTT and related industries had an overall market size of $23.9 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow 12% to reach $33.6 billion by 2021. That is according to the annual EY report released during the Frames conference in Mumbai, organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    European Cinema Admissions Down 3.3% in 2018, but Hit 1.25 Billion for Fourth Year in a Row

    European cinema admissions hit 1.25 billion for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, despite dropping 3.3% from the record level set in 2017, according to figures released Wednesday by the International Union of Cinemas, or UNIC. Total box office revenue across Europe hit at least €8 billion ($9.1 billion), also for the fourth year running. The figures [...]

  • International 2018 Box Office Profits

    International Box Office Top 100 of 2018: Another Record Year, but Rise Is Slight

    International box office ticked up 1% over 2017 to a record $29.8 billion, helping to drive worldwide moviegoing up 2.7% to a new high-water mark of $41.7 billion. Most of the global increase came from North America, which surged 7% to $11.9 billion. “Avengers: Infinity War” became the seventh film to gross more than $1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content