Keanu Reeves’ ’47 Ronin’ Debuts at No. 5 at Japanese Box Office (Video)

Universal’s samurai action fantasy finishes behind four local films with $1.3 million opening

Universal’s Keanu Reeves action fantasy epic “47 Ronin” made its debut in Japan over the weekend, and took in $1.3 million from 333 locations.

The debut by “47 Ronin” topped two other U.S. movies in their second week in the marketplace, “Captain Phillips” and “Red 2,” but Monday’s final figurs put it behind four Japanese movies.

Most analysts believe it will struggle to find its footing in the crowded holiday marketplace in the U.S., but given its subject matter and Japanese stars Rinko Kiuchi, Tadanobu Asano and Hiroyuki Sanada, it was seen as having  potential to score in Asia. The U.S. release date was shifted from November of 2012 to February 8, 2013, and then again to Christmas Day, 2013.

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Directed by Carl Erik Rinsch, “47 Ronin” is a fictional account of the tale of 47 samurai in 18th-century Japan who avenge the murder of their master. The story – commonly referred to as Chusingura in Japan — is extremely popular in that country and has inspired numerous plays, books and film production.

The rollout of the $170 million epic, which began filming in 2011, has been a long time coming. Filming started in Budapest in March 2011; it moved to Shepperton Studios in London and was concluded in Japan.

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The film opens next in Singapore (Dec. 19), Malaysia (Dec. 19) and Indonesia (Dec. 20), with 15 more territories opening the last weekend of 2013, including the U.K. and Spain.

Overall this weekend, overseaswas dominated by “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen,” as was the U.S. box office.

Lionsgate’s Jennifer Lawrence sequel brought in $44.3 million from 84 foreign markets to raise its international total to $336 million and its worldwide haul to $673 million. Disney Animation’s 3D family film took in $30.6 million from 24 territories to up its overall overseas total to nearly $60 million and its global haul to more than $190 million.