Universal boots director Carl Erik Rinsch from editing '47 Ronin' as budget soars
If 47 Ronin wasn't exactly a promising project, it was at least an intriguing one. A reimagining of the classic Japanese samurai revenge tale, the film stars Keanu Reeves in the lead role along with rising star Rinko Kikuchi(The Brothers Bloom, Pacific Rim). But the most notable aspect was Universal's decision to hire red hot commercials director Carl Erik Rinsch to make his feature film debut. The film has had nothing but problems ever since, with missed release dates and an exploding budget. It appears the studio has finally had enough as The Wrap reports Rinsch has been kicked out of the editing room with Universal taking over the final cut.
Specifically it will be Universal co-chair Donna Langley taking over the edit in an attempt to save a production that has gone totally off the rails. A source close to the project says the budget, which was inexplicably set for about $175M, ballooned to over $225M(Universal denies this), and things didn't seem to be improving after a recent round of reshoots. The director reportedly "buckled" under the pressure of such a massive production, showing an incompetence they obviously couldn't see when he was first hired. They particularly hated the climactic battle scene, which they say doesn't feature nearly enough of Reeves, and the reshoots were an attempt to highlight more of the actor. They also added a love scene, more Reeves close-ups, additional dialogue, and a supernatural foe for the actor to face.
Originally slated to open this November, 47 Ronin got bumped to next February before recently being kicked down to Christmas Day 2013, so it's been obvious for awhile that something wasn't quite working. Universal would have fired Rinsch much sooner, but DGA guidelines state that a director can't be fired until physical production has been completed. Now that the reshoots are done, the studio gave him the boot, but by some accounts they had long ago taken over the filming in spirit.
This has turned out to be quite a clusterf**k, and if Universal is going to save 47 Ronin from being a total black hole, it's going to take a whole lot of work. They should definitely stick to the Christmas release date, as that gives them over a year to fine tune things and aim this film at the Matrix-lovin' geek crowd it was always intended for. Even if they do everything right, this is a movie that has the stink of failure all over it. But maybe this will teach studios a lesson about giving the "hot director of the moment" the keys to major tentpole projects before they've even proven themselves.