If I told you one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, Disney, was taking some of their hit making producers, from the Pirates of the Caribbean, and mashing them up with an old and well known franchise would you pretty much assume a hit film. Well if you were a movie producer you would certainly assume that. Throw in Johnny Depp and the bags of money should be mailed directly to your door. And yet after it's opening weekend The Lone Ranger could only muster $48 million over a long 5 day opening during the July 4th holiday no less. This is much lower than the $100 million some were predicting after weeks of a marketing blitz. Where did it all go wrong? Why did the masked vigilante fail so miserably and can the Lone Ranger ride again?
Not every movie made is a winner. Just because you throw what should be a winning formula at the movie screen doesn't mean people will want to pay money to see it. You could argue The Lone Ranger had a rough spot to try and succeed in. It opened against a popular animated children's franchise in Despicable Me 2 and was still going against movies still gracing the silver screen like World War Z, Monsters University, and This Is The End. That means it was more than likely your movie needs could already be met by a less crowded theater no less. But could that be enough to sink the knife into this about to fail failure?
Probably not. No more than likely it was a disconnect with audiences. Go through and re-watch some of those Ranger trailers and try to guess what kind of film it would be. With Pirates there was already an emphasis on silliness since the whole thing was based on the fiction of a ride found at Disney Land. However with the Lone Ranger you had a real sense of self seriousness and a story with weight to it. The first trailer I saw had the Ranger's brother dying within 30 seconds. Not much room for Tonto acting cool and goofy jokes shortly thereafter. All that wrapped up in an action movie package requires true tact and strategy when putting it all together. From the sounds of many critics I'd say that package never was firmly wrapped up.
So with a crowded market full of alternatives, most of which are reviewing better, and a skeptical audience has turned this blockbuster into a John Carter or Water World. Well maybe a few more weeks, some decent international sales, and home video will recover the loss for Disney. Hopefully what this really means is a lesson. Just because you throw money at a hopeful picture won't make it a good one. Every film needs heart and soul.
Does this mean Disney will be more cautious in the future? Does this make studios rethink the Johnny Depp = $$$ equation? Can Lone Ranger even break even?