The Lone Ranger got whupped by an animated sequel on July 4, and the news kept getting worse for the wannabe franchise. The western earned $48.9 million over the five-day holiday weekend compared to Despicable Me 2’s $142 million haul. Those figures don’t take into account The Lone Ranger’s $250 budget or marketing costs.
The AP suggests the film’s studio, Disney, could lose $150 million on the project before the final tumbleweeds stop blowing.
The question Hollywood is asking this morning is, “why?”
1. “The Lone What? Who?” – Brand recognition is crucial to modern Hollywood even though it guarantees little. Just ask the folks behind the 2012 dud Battleship. While The Lone Ranger brand is entrenched in popular culture, it means very little to today’s youthful movie goers. They didn’t listen to the old radio show, likely missed the TV reruns and certainly had no love for the 1981 dud The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
2. P.C. Gone Wild – Anyone with a passing knowledge of history knows Native Americans were often treated horribly by America’s early settlers. That’s fodder for fiction, both on the big screen and via other media outlets. Remind audiences of that fact in a supposedly rock ’em, sock ’em summer movie and there’s bound to be fallout.
3. An Origin Story Without an Origin – Mild spoiler here … just how did Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger get to be so heroic? The film doesn’t really say. Instead, Hammer’s character is a milquetoast for much of the movie, but when that iconic William Tell Overture finally kicks in The Lone Ranger becomes the do-gooder we paid to see.
4. Depp Burnout – No spoiler alert needed here. Johnny Depp’s Tonto represents another quirky character he can add to his resume. Love the dead bird on his head, but we’ve come to expect such eccentricities, so where’s the sense of surprise? Depp is a master chameleon, but the most challenging role he could consider next is playing the guy next door.
5. Tone Deaf – Who doesn’t want to bring their kids to a film where the bad guy rips out his enemies’ hearts? The Lone Ranger is a tonal mess, veering from buddy comedy banter to disturbing spasm of violence without warning. Pre-teens will gasp at the bloodshed while adults groan over the farcical elements.