When the Keanu Reeves samurai epic 47 Ronin was pushed from Fall 2012 to February 2013, some feared that the movie was troubled. The studio denied problems, saying the film needed more time to finish visual effects. Ronin was surprisingly absent from Comic Con, reshoots in full swing, and the release date was pushed back again (this time to Christmas 2013) which got even more people speculating about troubles between the studio and the commercial filmmaker turned first time feature director. And now a report claims that Universal has pulled director Carl Erik Rinsch from the editing room, and is now being overseen by Universal co-chairwoman Donna Langley.

The Wrap reports:

 …described the production process as a “nightmare.” … [The director] had buckled under the pressure of the ambitious shoot of “47 Ronin,” and the studio had to step in to micromanage the latest round of reshoots from half a world away. … The movie wrapped up a series of reshoots in London about one week ago, the purpose of which was to recapture key close-ups of lead actor Keanu Reeves and put him back in the center of the action in the film’s most climactic scene.

The original cut did not feature Keanu Reeves’ character Kai in the final battle scene, and the reshoots introduced a new scene in the sequence pitting Kai against a supernatural creature. Reshoots added “a few other scenes” including “a love scene, close-ups and individual lines to boost Reeves’ presence.” A week of reshoots isn’t out of the realm of normal for a big budget Hollywood production like this, so I think The Wrap’s report on this part of things to be a bit overblown.

The report also claims that the film’s budget has ballooned over $225 million, which if true, would require more than half a billion dollars at the global box office just to break even. I know that this figure had been going around the rumor mill for a while now, and my sources told me it was laughably untrue — but that was before the reshoots and recent developments, so who knows. Universal also claims the film has not surpassed the original $175 million budget, even with the recent reshoots.

Apparently if the filmmaker completes physical production, the Directors Guild of America rules requires a studio to involve the original director in reshoots. Firing Rinsch was not a possibility due to complicated union rules, but now that the reshoots are done the studio has supposedly taken charge of the editorial department.

I heard rumblings of Rinsch being kicked out of the editing room a couple months back, so I’m wondering how true this timeline is, or what is the real story. I’ve been extremely impressed by Rinsch’s commercial work, and have been following his career for a long while now. Rinsch is a filmmaker well versed in melding live-action with visual effects, able to deliver the fantastic at great speed and under budget. Tonight’s reports don’t seem to fit his MO. One thing is for sure, Universal has a conflicting vision of the film.

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