Is '47 Ronin’ One of 2013's Biggest Bombs?

Is '47 Ronin' One of 2013's Biggest Bombs?

Early numbers suggest that Universal Pictures’ samurai film starring Keanu Reeves could be joining “Lone Ranger” and “Jack the Giant Slayer” in this year's box-office hall of shame

Universal has already accepted it will lose money on “47 Ronin,” taking write-downs for the samurai tale starring Keanu Reeves. The movie, which opened in the States on Christmas Day, has grossed $10.7 million at the domestic box office – and the reception overseas has been tepid thus far as well.

Yet Universal won't say how large those write-downs were.

Also read: Best & Worst 2013: Box-Office Blockbusters, Bombs and In-Betweens

“Universal Pictures regularly evaluates its film slate for potential adjustment,” the studio said in statement to TheWrap. “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.”

In other words, Universal has already taken a couple of punches to the stomach, and by the time Comcast reports earnings in early 2013, people will have forgotten about “47 Ronin.”

Also read: Best & Worst of 2013: TheWrap's Year-End Review

Until someone unearths a figure for how much Universal has lost, it will be hard to estimate the movie's damage to the studio's bottom line. Saying you took a write-down on a film without saying how large a write-down is a little like saying there was a major earthquake without revealing its magnitude.

TheWrap has reached out to a few analysts who follow this space closely, but they seem to be enjoying their Christmas vacation. And rightfully so.

However, we can compare “47 Ronin” to others in its species. Here are the four biggest flops of the year:

“The Lone Ranger”
Budget: $215 million
Opening Weekend: $29 million
Grosses: $260.5 million
Write-down: $160-$190 million

“White House Down”
Budget: $150 million
Opening Weekend: $24 million
Grosses: $205 million
Write-down: N/A, but the studio did lose $181 million in its second quarter (“After Earth” didn't help either)

“Jack the Giant Slayer”
Budget: $195 million
Opening Weekend: $27 million
Grosses: $197.6

Budget: $130 million
Opening Weekend: $12.7 million
Grosses: $78.3 million

And here's Ronin:

“47 Ronin”
Budget: $175 million
Opening Weekend: $15-$20 million (est.)
Grosses: TBD

Ronin's opening weekend will land  somewhere in between “White House Down” and “R.I.P.D.,” but as with every movie of this size, it will all come down to those foreign numbers.

There are other movies this year that lost their studios money. “Beautiful Creatures” was one of the year's early misfires, grossing $60 million with a $60 million budget, while “Ender's Game” disappointed in November, grossing $88 million from a budget of $110 million.

Yet neither of those cost as much as the five films discussed above, all of which likely cost a lot more than their studios are willing to admit.

  • hacker9

    On top of the film production budgets, it would be interesting to see the marketing dollars spent.

  • T.vd B

    I think it's high time for moviemakers to get a bit more creative. Instead of pouring mindless amounts of money in projects…that is…..

  • Andrea Moss

    Someone must be fired for this f***ing mess…

  • Mark O'Neill

    Whenever I hear Keanu Reeves on interviews I can't help but feel that he has lucked into his whole career. He's not even interested in acting. And young people do not even know who he is.

    • GPG2921

      I agree and these days who is putting Keanu in a 200 million dollar movie anyway? Aren't you asking to get hosed?

  • Lay

    It would have better if shown with Japanese language like crouching tiger. It's tough to swallow an ending with all the main people die unless u fully grasp Japanese old culture.

  • John Taylor

    I really enjoyed it. You'll have to understand Japanese culture.

  • Mark

    I actually like old fashion Samurai Movies, I loved the Seven Samurai (old version), I even liked the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. With the 47 Ronin it is the mystical figures and beasts that killed the movie for me. Will still watch it on DVD but won't pay to go to the movies.

    • sadtruth

      what a shame we found out all of those movies were representing a folklore and myth about what they would be like and in the real China people stab each other in the back at night just as we found out how the cowboys did not existed at all the way we portrayed them in the movies

  • InvisibleZombie

    The trailer has been one of the more interesting ones I've seen in the past few months.It looks like a great film to watch, I guess i don't think box-office when being enticed by a trailer!