Trouble for Uni’s 47 Ronin : Budget Swells, Director shut out of editing


Trouble for Universal’s “47 Ronin”, with the heftily-budgeted film apparently cutting it’s director free this week. The samurai movie starring Keanu Reeves – a samurai warrior who leads the charge against the man who murdered his group’s master – is hitting Universal’s bank hard, with the budget said to be a frightening $225 million. As a result, the studio has locked director Carl Rinsch out of the editing room and will be ‘taking it from here’.

Universal co-chairwoman Donna Langley is now said to be in charge in the editing suite, not commercials director Rinsch.

TheWrap, quoting an anonymous insider, reports :

The movie wrapped up a series of reshoots in London about one week ago, the purpose of which was to recapture key close-ups of lead actor Keanu Reeves and put him back in the center of the action in the film’s most climactic scene.

The individual described the production process as a “nightmare.”

Factoring in both the budget and the millions the studio will spend to market the film, Universal would need more than half a billion dollars at the global box office just to break even.

A Universal executive disputed that figure and said the budget had not veered from its original $175 million figure, despite the reshoots.

But there is no doubt that the production has been a mess.

An individual close to the movie, which is co-produced by Scott Stuber, Pamela Abdy and Eric McLeod, said that the director, a veteran of Heineken and BMW commercials on his first feature film, had buckled under the pressure of the ambitious shoot of “47 Ronin,” and the studio had to step in to micromanage the latest round of reshoots from half a world away.

The studio was dissatisfied with the movie it saw coming together and seized control from Rinsch.

One individual with knowledge of the production said Rinsch, who during preproduction seemed creative and competent, struggled to control the filmmaking process. The studio then stepped in to oversee the project from Los Angeles, taking charge of the editorial development, including the cut of the film.

Firing Rinsch was not a possibility, as the Directors Guild of America requires that if a director completes physical production he must also take part in the reshoots. But with the reshoots done, the director was then pushed aside.

Marginalized in the initial sequences was Reeves, the lone actor well-known in the U.S. Universal opted to reshoot a major fight scene near the end of the film, as well as a few other scenes to sharpen the focus on Reeves’ character Kai.

Kai was not even present in the final battle scene, whereas the new scene pits Kai against a supernatural creature.

In addition, the studio added a love scene, close-ups and individual lines to boost Reeves’ presence.

In April, the studio moved it to February 2013, citing the need for work on the 3D visual effects. Then Universal pushed it into December 2013 to account for the reshoots and post-production.

“47 Ronin” is definitely going to be a movie to watch in 2013 – or at least, a movie that’s going to spur interest, if even for the wrong reasons.