July 24--"We believe you are the only one who can help us."
That ominous plea comes about halfway through the new trailer for "47 Ronin," and while it's directed at the character played by Keanu Reeves the entreaty could also describe how much Universal Pictures needs the actor to deliver a big audience for the troubled production.
Filmed in early 2011, the expensive movie--the budget was originally $175 million but has surpassed that figure--originally was set for release last Thanksgiving.
But Universal delayed the release to this February and then again to this Christmas because the film needed reshoots and more time to complete its visual effects.
Shot in 3-D by Carl Rinsch, a music video and commercial director who had never made a studio feature, "47 Ronin" stars a largely Japanese cast (including Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki and Rinko Kikuchi) alongside Reeves, who has not starred in a blockbuster hit since the "Matrix" trilogy.
"47 Ronin" is a new version of a Japanese legend about a group of samurai who avenge the death of their master and then commit ritual suicide.
As the trailer makes clear, there is no shortage of over-the-top visual effects in the film, but Universal has to make sure "47 Ronin" can hold its own against the monsters and beasts from Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," which opens just two weeks before "47 Ronin" finally arrives.
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