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It was in late April of last year when we first got the sense that the Japanese epic-inspired 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves was in a bit of trouble. Initially set to come out on November 14, 2012, the film was bumped back four months by Universal to February 8, 2013 - and then it was moved again to Christmas. Missing two release dates is a very bad sign, and those troubles were essentially confirmed when critics got to see the finished product (it currently has a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Far worse for the studio than bad critical reception is bad box office numbers, however, and according to Variety the movie is close to setting the low bar for the year.
According to the trade, 47 Ronin is currently on track to be one of the biggest under-performers of the year. Estimates say that through Sunday the film is expected to earn less than $20 million, which will make it the "worst debut for any $150 million-plus movie in 2013." Box office reports on Thursday said that the movie had only managed to make $3.4 million during the Christmas holiday, putting it sixth in the rankings.
This isn't the first time that we've heard some troubling box office news for the movie either. Earlier this month it was reported that 47 Ronin has also not been having a great deal of success in Japan, where surely the studio was hoping to at least have some success. Variety says that so far the movie has opened in 14 international territories, but through Wednesday it has managed to only make $10 million.
This may also sound like terrible news for Universal, but in an official statement the company revealed that they have actually been preparing for the flop for months now:
“Universal Pictures regularly evaluates its film slate for potential adjustment. In the case of 47 Ronin, we adjusted film costs in previous quarters and as a result our financial performance will not be negatively impacted this quarter by its theatrical performance.”
The past 12 months have seen huge successes, like Iron Man 3 and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but there have been more than a few instances where it was the failures that stole the headlines. This is the same year that we saw the release of M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth and Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, after all. I wonder how we will end up looking back at 2013 ten years from now.
Have you seen 47 Ronin? Do you think it's worth being seen now while it's still in theaters? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.