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