We’ve been wary about Keanu Reeves’ 3D Samurai epic 47 Ronin since the film was pushed back from a planned launch date around this Thanksgiving – to slow-going February next year and then, back even further to Christmas 2013. The big-budget production marks the directorial debut of commercial helmer (and Ridley Scott protege) Carl Rinsch, so it’s long been expected that his transition to feature-length filmmaking might be bumpy.

However, trade insiders are reporting that Rinsch has bitten off more than he can chew – enough so for Universal to remove him as the director overseeing the venture. Scroll on down for the dismal details.

The Wrap has it on good authority that Universal co-chariwoman Donna Langley, not Rinsch, is overseeing post-production on 47 Ronin. Studio heads could not pull him earlier, even though Rinsch “struggled to control the filmmaking process” throughout principal photography, as the Directors Guild of America requires that a helmer who completes primary production must be allowed to oversee reshoots. Universal has apparently been micro-managing the London-based pickup filming, but pulled Rinsch entirely once editing got underway.

One of the problems that led to Rinsch being pushed aside is that Reeves – who plays a scarred warrior named Kai whose mixed heritage makes him an outcast in Japanese society – is meant to be the focus of the film, but ended up marginalized in a rough cut. Moreover, Rinsch apparently failed to capture the necessary footage to establish that Kai is a participant in the film’s climactic battle (!), which had to be corrected during reshoots.

Several additional scenes were shot to further beef up Reeves’ presence, including a fight with an unspecified supernatural creature and a love scene; as a result, the original $175 million budget has reportedly climbed to $225 million. An unidentified Universal executive is disputing this claim – take (or leave) that for what it’s worth.

Reeves and the ’47 Ronin’ are in trouble

What’s all the more disappointing about this 47 Ronin mess is that the project has a lot going for it, what with Reeves tackling the stoic action hero role he does best in, a re-telling of a treasured Asian legend of honor and sacrifice, brought to life using the best-available filmmaking technology, as well as beautiful costume work and a solid Japanese supporting cast. The project is also an opportunity for Rinsch to establish himself as a premium filmmaker.

Still, after a production process as sloppy and troubled as that for 47 Ronin, it’s difficult to envision Universal pulling things together to create a final product that’s worth every extra penny and hour spent making it. None of this will matter if the final film does prove to be a grand spectacle that draws in the masses, so who knows – maybe the hellish experience behind this movie will ultimately translate into powerful cinematic art (… maybe).

More on 47 Ronin as the story develops.

Source: The Wrap