Exclusive: Universal takes writedown on new Keanu Reeves film

Tue Dec 24, 2013 3:31pm EST
 
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By Ronald Grover

Los Angeles (Reuters) - Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures movie studio has taken unspecified write-downs for its $175 million, Keanu Reeves film "47 Ronin" that opens on Christmas Day, the studio has acknowledged, as Hollywood neared the end of a year of big budget bombs.

The film, a fantasy action film about a group of samurai in 18th century Japan, cost $175 million to make, according to people with knowledge of its budget.

It is expected to gross between $17 million and $20 million for the five-day Christmas Day holiday period through Sunday December 29, Hollywood experts have forecast, a particularly weak showing for a big budget film.

"Universal Pictures regularly evaluates its film slate for potential adjustment," said a Universal official. "In the case of '47 Ronin,' we adjusted film costs in previous quarters and as a result, our financial performance will not be negatively impacted this quarter by its theatrical performance."

Universal did not disclose the size of the earlier write-downs.

Although Hollywood executives cautiously predict a record year at the box office, many had their own big budget misfires. Walt Disney wrote down the costs of the $215 million Johnny Depp western "The Lone Ranger," which it had said lost more than $160 million.

Earlier in the year, Dreamworks Animation took an $87 million write down for its 2012 holiday film "Rise of the Guardians," while Warner Brothers' "Jack the Giant Slayer" generated $197.7 million in worldwide ticket sales and cost $195 million to make. (Studios generally get half the ticket sales.)

Sony cited the "theatrical underperformance" of the $150 million thriller "White House Down" as one reason its studio recorded a $181 million loss in its second quarter.   Continued...

 
Host and producer Keanu Reeves participates in a panel for the documentary "Side by Side" during the PBS sessions at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten