Box Office Bomb: Its budget was around $200 million (and that's just for the movie itself, doesn't cover things like advertising) but it flopped badly, only making around 150 million dollars in the box office. This results to Universal Studios to take a write down. It's even worse that it didn't do well in the Japanese box office despite the Japanese All-Star Cast and being loosely based on a famous Japanese folk tale.
Executive Meddling: The film was supposed to come out in November 2012, but after primary shooting was complete and just prior to the release, the studio demanded more scenes for Keanu Reeves' character to capitalize on his star nature, and insert a love story involving Reeves' character as well as add in more fantasy battle scenes in the style of The Hobbit or Harry Potter. This delayed the film by just over a year, and one can only wonder if they were the only changes...
Troubled Production: This film was beset by continuous production woes, as evidenced by thesearticles. Director Carl Erik Rinsch had never made a feature film before, and furthermore, he and the studio, Universal, clashed on the final vision of the film. Universal wanted to make an effects-driven fantasy blockbuster akin to Avatar or The Lord of the Rings, while Rinsch envisioned the film as more of a drama such as Gladiator or Kingdom of Heaven. As such, the film was subject to numerousdelays, reshoots, and a budget running from $175 million to a whopping $225 million. Finally, despite denials from the studio, there are rumors that Rinsch was kicked off the project due to the numerous production woes.
Roughly speaking, between the costs of production and advertising, it needed to gross $500 million to break even... a figure that it did not even come close to. Before it even came out in the USnote It had been released in Japan — to an acidic reception — three weeks prior., Universal, taking one look at the hurricane of bad buzz surrounding the project, took an unspecified writedown on it. It was met with scathing reviews upon release, and audiences largely agreed with the critics and ignored the film.