Universal's 47 Ronin picked up steam when evidence of the film's gorgeous production values leaked online (see the Japanese costume design), but over the subsequent year that positive buzz got knocked down by one bad news item after another. The big-budget Japanese fantasy-adventure ended up being delayed multiple times (totaling over a year), before we received a report which suggested that Carl Rinsch - making his feature-length directorial debut - had been removed from the project. That was followed shortly there after by insider claims that this was not the case after all (i.e. Rinsch is still overseeing post-production).
47 Ronin will, at last, be unveiled during the 2013 Winter Holiday season. As such, Universal has released four characters posters from the film (via IGN), in order to kick-off the official marketing campaign. This should help to make sure that the moviegoing masses start getting excited for the (allegedly) troubled blockbuster's theatrical premiere.
Check out the newly-released 47 Ronin posters below:
[Click for Full/Enlarged Version]
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47 Ronin is a fictional retelling of a factual tale, in which a group of real-life samurai in 18th-century Japan avenged the death of their master. The Hollywood version of the story is headlined by Keanu Reeves as Kai, an outcast in Japanese society - due to his multiracial heritage - who joins forces with 47 outlaw samurai, in order to help them defeat the overlord who murdered their master and banished them. Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) plays Oishi, the leader of the 47 Ronin, while the rest of the predominantly-Asian cast includes Tadanobu Asano (Thor: The Dark World) and Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim).
Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious 6) and Hossein Amini (Drive) wrote the 47 Ronin movie script, based on a screen story by Morgan and Walter Hamada (executive producer of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street remakes). Their interpretation of the story makes room for a more standard Hollywood protagonist (note: Reeves is part-Chinese), in addition to a fantasy-historical setting and supernatural characters (see: "The Freak," which is a demon of sorts) that could - or could not - feel like organic additions to the story, dependent on how they are utilized in the film.
There's good reason for concern, when you consider the (apparent) similarities between 47 Ronin and Disney's Lone Ranger: both are contemporary Hollywood takes on famous stories - one true, the other fictional - that incorporate elements into the mix that seem incongruous when compared to traditional retellings. It did not work out so well for Lone Ranger, in part because that film's intriguing subtext and subversive material (ex. unconventional supernatural elements) came across as jumbled in the final cut. That's been reflected in the film's box office, with a current $148 million worldwide tally (well-below its $215-250 million price tag).
47 Ronin is, likewise, a project where the budget is rumored to have climbed from $170 million to upwards of $225 million, while the production process hasn't been easy-peasy (as was mentioned before). Will the Keanu Reeves film suffer the same fate as Lone Ranger? Or will 47 Ronin be an impressively action-packed and thematically-satisfying Samurai epic that pulls in a large audience (turning a tidy profit like last month's troubled production-turned box office hit World War Z)? Best to wait and see what the trailer has to offer, before you start to lay bets on which of those scenarios is going to happen.
47 Ronin opens in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day (i.e. December 25th), 2013.