Lone Ranger: Reviews blamed for poor performance

Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer place the blame solely at the critics doors.

Disney‘s big-budget remake, The Lone Ranger, had all the pieces in place for a blockbuster. It had Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp, talented actor Armie Hammer, Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski and blockbuster guru Jerry Bruckheimer producing, all this with a reported $250 million dollar budget. Yet one month after its release it has a domestic haul of only $86 million, to call it a disappointing figure would be an understatement.

In an interview with Yahoo Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer say exactly what they think is the reason for the films under-performance. Depp said:

I think the reviews were written seven-to-eight months before we released the film…when they heard that [director] Gore [Verbinski] and [producer] Jerry [Bruckheimer] and me were going to do The Lone Ranger. They had expectations that it must be a blockbuster. I didn’t have any expectations of that. I never do.

Of course, the widely reported budget issues were also a factor in creating a blockbuster expectation, with the Lone Ranger team repeatedly fighting Disney for a larger budget. These behind-the-scenes issues are what Hammer spoke of in no uncertain terms, to the displeasure of his own publicist:

This is the deal with American critics: they’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time, that’s when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews. If you go back and read the negative reviews, most of them aren’t about the content of the movie, but more what’s behind it…While we were making it we knew people were gunning for it. I think it was the popular thing when the movie hit rocky terrain they jumped on the bandwagon to try and bash it. They tried to do the same thing to World War Z, it didn’t work, the movie was successful. Instead they decided to slit the jugular of our movie.

Bruckheimer was a little more tactful in his comments, although shared the view that reviewers had let the budget cloud their view:

I think they were reviewing the budget, not reviewing the movie. The audience doesn’t care what the budget is – they pay the same amount if it costs a dollar or 20 million dollars. It’s unfortunate because the movie is a terrific movie, it’s a great epic film. It has lots of humour. It’s one of those movies that whatever critics missed in it this time, they’ll review it in a few years and see that they made a mistake.

Lone Ranger isn’t the first big budget Disney movie to flop disastrously at the box office, with last years John Carter seeing one of the largest financial losses in cinema history. Carter’s problems were mostly due to a severely bloated budget, a generic unknown title and very poor (and lack of) advertising. Lone Ranger, whilst not as big of a financial loss as Carter, cannot claim to have been poorly advertised or have no name power, but as previously mentioned, it did have budgetary problems.

In all likelihood with a current global box office revenue of $175 million, Lone Ranger will probably break even on its budget after DVD and Blu-Ray sales, so it isn’t the worst disaster, but it will still be looked at as a disappointment given the names and budget involved.

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