"I hate how difficulties in the process of putting together big-budget movies has been turned into bloodsport reporting, particularly when it is sort of accurate but exaggerated," Deadline wrote today with a pretty amazing lack of self-awareness. And while the actual truth of what is going on behind closed doors on "47 Ronin" likely won't be known except by those directly involved, it's hard to deny that the movie is going through some serious pains.
Originally slated to open this November, the Keanu Reeves-starring movie went through two release date bumps and is now currently slated for a Christmas Day release in December 2013. But moreover, there have been reports of reshoots, reconfigurations and more, with some saying the budget has soared to $225 million (though the studio insists it won't cross $200 million) from an original $175 million budget. But whatever is going on, commericals director and first-time feature filmmaker Carl Rinsch is apparently still involved.
The trade reported today that Rinsch is in the editing room, though "the studio has taken a more active hand in the editing process on the Universal lot…which is unusual." Deadline blames a strong-willed Rinsch for (probably) butting heads with the crew and fuelling his own rumors, but it seems pretty clear they have as much as an idea of what's going on than anybody else, though they believe the Christmas Day date is a sign that Universal ultimately believes they have a winner on their hands. But a couple of months ago, Dave Poland offered a rather interesting perspective on that release date on MCN that takes a business minded look at this whole fiasco:
But there is virtually no chance in hell that they are releasing 47 Ronin for Christmas 2013. This is a movie they are trying to keep off the books for as long as jobs are being threatened and December happens to be the most expensive month in which to release a film. But look for a quiet move to January or February of 2014 herein the U.S. of A… if they release the film at all (probably under contractual obligation to do so eventually)… or for new management to make some other decision. The big question is what one can expect in terms of an international theatrical.
The last time I recall a movie being shoved around like this was another Universal title, the vaunted D-Tox/Eye See You. Shot in 1999, it was finally released worldwide in 2002, with the last stop being the U.S., in September of that year under the Eye See You title.
…Disney may have had two big financial problems with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and John Carter… but they released the movies on schedule, braced for the hits, and kept moving forward (albeit with bodies thrown overboard for each film). In the case of 47 Ronin, the ability to rationalize the moves as an effort to somehow improve the product is over.
All this to say…we'll see? Clearly this project is a pretty big piece of egg on the face of Universal of the moment, and whether it's turned into an omelet or simply sours we'll just have to wait and find out.