Universal Removes Director Carl Rinsch from 47 RONIN Editing Room as Budget Hits $225 Million

by     Posted 2 years, 32 days ago

47-ronin-cast-keanu reeves carl rinsch

47 Ronin is an intriguing project, in part because Universal plucked Carl Rinsch from relative obscurity to direct the 3D samurai tentpole.  It seems the studio regrets that decision, and wants to heighten the intrigue in all the worst ways a cinephile can imagine.  Rinsch has reportedly been removed from the editing room; Universal co-chairwoman Donna Langley will oversee the final cut.  A source involved with the production said the budget escalated from the planned $175 million to a prohibitive $225 million, although the studio denies that number.  Keanu Reeves stars as one of the 18th century samurai who seek to avenge their master’s death, which lends some star power to the movie.  But the rest of the cast—featuring Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano, Kô Shibasaki, and Rinko Kikuchi—is mostly Japanese.  [Edit: To clarify, I have no problem with the nationality of the other actors. See explanation in the comments.]  Add in the period setting and the lack of built-in brand awareness, and it is surprising Universal trusted an unproven director with so much money in the first place.

But Universal is ready to rectify that.  Find out how after the jump.

47-Ronin-movie-posterThe Wrap suggests that Rinsch came off as “creative and competent” during pre-production, but struggled when shooting got underway and eventually “buckled under the pressure of the ambitious shoot.”  Rinsch oversaw reshoots in London as recently as a week ago at the request of the studio.  Reeves’ character Kai was initially absent from the final battle scene.  With the reshoots, the climax now pits Kai against a supernatural creature.  The studio also “added a love scene, close-ups, and individual lines” to boost Reeves’ screen time.

Clearly, Universal was not happy with the footage that Rinsch had assembled and had already taken over the production in spirit.  The studio apparently would have fired Rinsch earlier if not for a DGA regulation that insists that the director of the initial production must also be involved with the reshoots.  Now that the reshoots are in the can, the studio feels free to seize control from Rinsch more definitively.  To reduce costs, Universal has reportedly halted some of the visual effects work.

It is unfortunate that things devolved to this state, because again, it was such an exciting prospect.  Now… it’s hard to root for a studio takeover, and even more difficult to believe that such a troubled process will yield a whole and satisfying final product.  Until the planned Christmas 2013 release, we can hope that this conflict is overstated, or at the very least that cool elements will seep through the mess.




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  • Mars

    As usual, you’re an incompetent idiot. You say “But the rest of the cast -is mostly Japanese” as if it’s a bad thing or some sort of problem. Adding in more Keanu won’t help. The director probably wanted to give screen time to the other characters and didn’t feel some big name should get more prominence over these worthy full Asian actors just because he’s famous. At least some people are willing to make an ambitious project on a large scale with some non-white actors for once.

    • http://twitter.com/colliderbrendan Brendan Bettinger

      I agree with you. Both that a mostly Japanese cast is not a bad thing and that I am an incompetent idiot for not making that clear.

      I like the fact that the filmmakers set out to make a big movie with a mostly non-white cast. But they already conceded to cast Reeves, even though I don’t imagine any of the 47 ronin of legend looked like Keanu Reeves. And Universal was clearly uneasy with the focus on the Japanese cast over Reeves, which is what I was trying to point out in contrast to Reeves’ perceived marketability. I find it sad that big studios still rarely find a way to trust big budgets to diverse casts. Sorry for the confusion.

      • Moosey

        Brendan, you don’t need to apologize to this douche-nozzle for sniping you because you didn’t spell out every last little detail for the kids at home. If he can’t figure out that what you (a film industry journalist, writing an article about about an ongoing event in the film industry, on a website that covers news in THE {greedy backwards racist} FILM INDUSTRY) meant by the phrasing you used, I would say he’s a little too fresh to all this to be opening his mouth in the comments just yet. Either that, or he’s just another internet jerk-off looking for someone to scream at -like me admittedly- and decided you didn’t make yourself clear enough for his oh-so selective tastes. In either case, screw this guy. Thanks for another day of bringing us the news.

    • agent_black

      Mars, it’s a good idea to read the full article (the middle and the ending as well as just the initial blurb) before launching into a hateful, knee jerk diatribe. Brendan was making a very interesting point as he went on to say the following;

      “Reeves’ character Kai was initially absent from the final battle scene. With the reshoots, the climax now pits Kai against a supernatural creature. The studio also “added a love scene, close-ups, and individual lines” to boost Reeves’ screen time.”

      This follow up statement clearly explains the use of the word BUT before stating that the rest of the cast was Japanese, but you basically you reacted before he finished his point.

      There is an art of tact and subtlety in writing an article of this nature which sometimes requires a little patience and maturity from the reader. It’s just a learning curve.

    • Diashi

      So you superimpose bigotry into his words and get upset, but then you call him names in the first sentence of your post? Do you always take things out of context in the worst way while being hypocritical? Your racist dial needs to be calibrated if you’re so easily offended, because Bettinger isn’t the one taking us to that subject, you are.

      Try providing a constructive critique next time instead.

  • MisterEd

    So let me get this straight…. Instead of supporting Guillermo Del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness dream project (a project that already had a script, pre-production work done, had the support of James Cameron and the lead actor, Tom Cruise), Universal walked away from that and instead opted to finance disasters such as Battleship and now this money pit?

    Who’s in charge of that studio anyway?

    • Taurus

      I wish I could like this comment a million times… I also wish I had a time machine to go back in time and show this article (and the wrap’s article) and Battleship’s boxoffice and reviews to Donna Langley to stop her from shooting down what was sure to be a classic. At least we’re getting Pacific Rim.

    • Strong Enough

      I doubt 47 Ronin is Rated R. that was the main problem with ATMOM.

    • Bheaya Emortalis

      This comment was probably the best thing i’ve seen on this site. I’m glad i’m not the only one who sees this stupidity. Sad, sad world.

    • Melanarus

      Can someone send this statement to the email of every universal employee somehow?

    • tarek

      Are you crazy MisterEd ? Battleship was amazing! We had Rihanna with a big gun in her hand!

      Soon Universal will produce Pac-Man with Justin Bieber as Pinky the ghost. I’m so excited!

  • Healthy Skeptic

    Wait, let me get this right. “47 Ronin” was shot on a digital camera that captures 50% less image information than (the lowest resolution) 35mm film? They paid $200 million for half the image information? Uh-oh, this is starting to look like the wonderful digi revolution that was sold to the sheeple in the music industry. All promises. What happened to all of those cost savings and time savings we were promised by shooting digital? Sky rocketing production costs. Pushing the release dates. Not enough coverage on Keanu’s scenes. Come-on digi wonks, lie to me some more. I really want to believe in your magical pixel fairies . . . from the mystical land of “ones-and-zeros” !

  • Healthy Skeptic

    Wait, let me get this right. “47 Ronin” was shot on a digital camera that captures 50% less image information than (the lowest resolution) 35mm film? They paid $200 million for half the image information? Uh-oh, this is starting to look like the wonderful digi revolution that was sold to the sheeple in the music industry. All promises. What happened to all of those cost savings and time savings we were promised by shooting digital? Sky rocketing production costs. Pushing the release dates. Not enough coverage on Keanu’s scenes. Come on digi wonks, lie to me some more. I really want to believe in your magical pixel fairies . . . from the mystical land of “ones-and-zeros” !

    • Alex

      What are you talking about? Isn’t 47 Ronin shot on the Alexa, which is a camera whose dynamic range already surpasses 35mm film.

    • Damon

      You think a movie went way over budget because they used digital cameras? Wow, clearly you don’t know the list of costs involved in making a movie. The cost of film vs digital is not that large a percentage. And the highest digital cameras are surpassing film. Time to move on and accept obsolescence.

  • Alan

    Who thought it would have been a good idea to remove the lead character from the climax in the first place? This isn’t ‘No Country For Old Men’ or something: it’s the hero’s journey again, so why would anyone think that deleting the hero from such a key part of the story was a smart idea?

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  • spunk

    We all know what happens, this is the oldest hollywood story there is. They looked at Rinsch’s reel which is incredible and hired him, then the suits went to set and second guessed everything he did because the stakes were so high. With 175 mill on the line a lot of cooks went into the kitchen, threw out the recipe book the director prepared and a lot of various spices got thrown on the meat and nobody liked the taste when all was said and done. Uni did not hire this guy then let him hang himself, I’m sure they did the hanging out of insecurity. Fox did it to David Fincher who in 1990 was making a 60 million dollar first feature, Warners Bro was very smart with the Wachowski Bro’s after buying the matrix script, they made the brothers do a cheap 5 million dollar film to get their feet wet and prove themselves. Why that isn’t in every studios playbook I don’t know but it makes more sense than writing a big check and then doing everything in your power to undermine the director and the film.

  • Steven Gilpin

    The part that I find most ridiculous is that they added in a fight between Keanu and a “supernatural creature” at the end!! What the heck is goin’ on here??!!! LOL

  • 2WLight

    Anus-versal smells like ass!

  • Pingback: 47 RONIN Promo Posters. 47 RONIN Stars Keanu Reeves | Collider

  • Pingback: 47 RONIN Character Posters. 47 RONIN Stars Keanu Reeves and Rinko Kikuchi | Collider

  • jaygoji

    I’m a film guy myself and have heard that the post cost can drive up production costs past what the front-end savings on digital is. However with the Alexa being so popular and the new Red Epic, I’d like some more info on your comment. I guess I’m not technical enough but I’d really like to know what camera you were thinking of when you made this comment. Thanks.

  • Pingback: The WAMBAG » Blog Archive » But I Still Love Pacific Rim

  • pridv

    nope. it sucked.

  • Pingback: My Two Cents: 47 Ronin | Tales from the Ragged Edge

  • John Germain

    Brendan, I agree with Moosey. Just because only about 5 people liked this film, including the Mars poster who called you an idiot, does not make you one. I just watched it last night and 47 Ronin is a disaster and easily one of 2013′s worst films. It is an incoherent mess. Poorly acted, directed, written, tedious and dull, The characters are lifeless and have no depth regardless of the nationality and Keanu only does a different take on his Neo character only without any charisma. They could have put a herd of talking Samurai monkeys in these roles and had the same effect. Actually, I think the monkeys would have had more life to them. This movie is a truly awful.

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