With the box office failure of the Disney epic that wasn’t, John Carter, still fresh in the studio’s memory, they must be feeling that The Lone Ranger is just John Carter on a horse. The same abysmal box office receipts; the same word of mouth killing the film and getting stomped flatter than a frog under a horse’s hoof by Despicable Me 2.
Okay, so John Carter didn’t get flattened by any one particular film, but it did fall into second place against the 2012 film The Lorax, which brought in a staggering world box office return of over $348 million with a production budget of just $70 million.
John Carter, with a production budget of $250 million brought in a box office receipt of just over $282 million. The figure’s speak for themselves and they will speak for The Lone Ranger as well.
Disney attempting to milk the Johnny Depp cash cow yet again, has cost the company dearly. The initial box office isn’t even remotely promising and the audience was not impressed by Depp’s Captain Sparrow impression of a Native American.
With an “estimated” production budget of between $215 to 250 million (according to Wikipedia) and a box office return of just over $79 million after the opening weekend, it seems unlikely that Disney will be able to “pay all the bills;” even after the film completes its world run.
It really shows just now desperate Disney is for a blockbuster hit. Sadly it isn’t going to be the Tonto heavy film of The Lone Ranger. It must have made sense to use the Pirate’s crew and the one most popular member of the cast. Depp can carry a film, he has done so in the past, but his acting tricks are starting to stretch a little thin.
Everything he is currently doing appears to be a re-hash of his “Cap’n Jack.” Disney placing all their faith in Depp’s (pardon the pun) apparent “one-trick-pony” acting, is touching and pretty sad. Depp has managed to break away from his potentially damaging film relationship with Tim Burton, but, as can be seen by the inclusion of Helena Bonham-Carter in a somewhat pointless cameo in the film, shows that he hasn’t broken completely away.
Disney must now realise that they should perhaps break away from Depp for awhile. Give each other a breather and stop relying on Depp’s popularity from the Pirate’s of the Caribbean films to guarantee bums on seats in the cinema. Sure it’s been a pretty long time since the “Black Pearl” was headline news in the area of ticket sales, but they might have thought of that before relying on Depp to “carry” the film.
That they’ve had another big budget box office flop on their hands, must be of a huge concern for Disney in the “live action” stakes.
The film, according to most who have seen it, offers much in the way of big budget special FX. A lot of action that is late in coming and moves rapidly, even impressively toward the second half of the film, is all window dressing for an elongated television adaptation that has too much bang and not enough plot for those hard earned dollars spent on tickets and popcorn.
Obviously, Disney didn’t learn from the FX and IMAX laden John Carter. It appears that Disney decided to use the, now, almost formulaic set up of IMAX and 3D to pack the audiences into the cinema to watch a film with a mediocre plot and a second “lead” who has managed to insult every tribe of Native American’s that still exist within US borders.
After promising a Native American lead who would not follow Hollywood stereotypes, they went ahead and did just that. Spouting a sort of pidgin English and using a monosyllabic tone used in hundreds, if not thousands, of Hollywood westerns.
But like the disaster that was John Carter, The Lone Ranger has committed the same sins.
Lots of costly FX, explosions and shoot-outs that left little room for real character arcs and a story that, sadly, doesn’t match all the IMAX and 3D “wow” factor that the studio had hoped. The next time, perhaps, Disney will not use pirate storytellers to tell a western story. Or better yet, leave out some of those “impressive” FX and concentrate more on plot development.
That The Lone Ranger feels like John Carter on a horse is sad and looks a little like a swan song from a studio that really should know better.
By Michael Smith