8 items from 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 »
- Ramin Setoodeh and Scott Foundas
2013 was the year when all those big, expensive, flashy flops dragged down the movie business, right?
Not quite. Despite all the worry over write-down-inducing failures like The Lone Ranger and 47 Ronin, 2013 was actually another boom year at the box office. In fact, it’s about to go in the record books as Hollywood’s all-time best: With two days left til the New Year, we’re just a few million shy of 2012′s record-setting $10.837 billion haul.
So how did this happen? Despite its notable flops, summer actually saw an 11 percent increase over 2012 thanks to megahits like Despicable Me 2 ($367.7 million »
- Adam Markovitz
Universal's ill-fated 47 Ronin and Justin Bieber concert pic Believe are suffering a bad case of the holiday blues at the North American box office, while Warner Bros.' Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro needs to pick up the pace quickly unless it wants to suffer the same fate. 47 Ronin -- costing at least $175 million to make -- placed No. 8 on Thursday with $3.7 million for a troubled two-day total of $10.7 million. Placing No. 13, Believe only took in $1 million to come in No. 13 for a two-day total of $2.
- Pamela McClintock
Five new nationwide releases reached theaters on Christmas Day, though none were quite strong enough to take first place away from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The Top 10 earned an estimated $67.3 million, which is about on par with Christmas Day 2012 ($68.1 million).Smaug added $9.32 million, which is off 17 percent from the first Hobbit's Christmas Day ($11.2 million). Through 13 days in theaters, the second entry in the prequel trilogy has grossed just shy of $150 million.Among new releases, The Wolf of Wall Street led the way with an estimated $9.15 million. That's a fine start, though it's much lower than last year's Django Unchained ($15 million). If Wolf follows Django's pattern from here, it will wind up with around $100 million; however, Wolf's "C" CinemaScore suggests that word-of-mouth could be a challenge.After dropping to fourth place on Christmas Eve, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues rebounded a bit on Christmas Day. The comedy sequel took »
- Ray Subers <email@example.com>
The eagerness of the major studios to cozy up to Asian markets yields awkward results in 47 Ronin, a lumpy 3D epic from Universal that fuses Japanese historical legend with generic CGI-heavy action fantasy. While the reported $175 million budget is evident in the handsome production values of Carl Rinsch’s ambitious first feature, it falls short on character definition, emotional involvement, narrative drive and originality, with a protagonist played by Keanu Reeves who often gets bumped to the sidelines. Following its soft start in Japan, the English-language film may prove too Hollywood for Eastern audiences and too Asian
- David Rooney
Universal's big-budget 47 Ronin -- starring Keanu Reeves -- got off to a disappointing start in Japan over the weekend, grossing $1.3 million from 333 engagements. The samurai epic, costing at least $175 million to produce, is opening in select foreign markets ahead of its Dec. 25 launch in North America. The movie's release was delayed several times in order to allow for re-shoots. Earlier: Studio Ghibli's 'The Tale of Princess Kaguya' Tops Japanese Box Office Placing No. 3 in Japan, 47 Ronin did notably less than Universal had hoped for. It opens next in Singapore (Dec. 19), Malaysia
- Pamela McClintock
Universal Pictures has released a new trailer, posters, and images for the action flick, 47 Ronin. The story stars Keanu Reeves and centers on a troupe of banished samurai who long to restore their honor and find vengeance against the treacherous Lord Kira (played by Tadanobu Asano) who was responsible for the death of their master. This new trailer does a better job of laying out the story as well as showing off more of the finished special effects, but it still doesn't do anything for me. The protagonist's revenge seems miniscule compared to the special effects extravaganza surrounding him. I want to hold out hope for this movie, but this new trailer isn't giving me much to go on. Hit the jump to check out the trailer, poster, and images. The film also stars Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Aksanishi. 47 Ronin opens in 3D on December 25th. »
- Matt Goldberg
Keanu Reeves mastered kung fu in "The Matrix" -- and now he's learning the way of the samurai in "47 Ronin," Universal's upcoming action-adventure fantasy film about 47 warriors fighting supernatural forces that killed their master. In the first trailer for the tentpole whose production was reportedly a long, expensive struggle, Hiroyuki Sanada ("The Wolverine") tracks down "a half-breed" Japanese warrior (Reeves) and rescues him from slavery -- because he is destined to beat the forces of evil trying to conquer the mythical landscape. Also read: Universal Pulls '47 Ronin' From Director as »
- Greg Gilman
8 items from 2013
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