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Box Office: The Lone Ranger Will Likely Not Ride Again

When I heard a few little kids doing that "bee-doh-bee-doh-bee-doh" siren noise in the exact inflection of a minion from Despicable Me 2 last week -- and that was just from trailer-indoctrination alone, y'know? -- I knew the box office would be gargantuan. And so it was becoming the 10th highest grosser of 2013 (thus far) after just 4 days of release. 

The Lone Ranger comes with a ready made catchphrase too... "Hi Yo, Silver. Away!" but the movie which is both too hip and too square for its own good (what is its target audience exactly? Other than "all" which often results in confusing tones), demeans the very use of it so you wont hear little kids doing any Lone Ranger chants in the streets. The box office opening for that film was dismal given its $215+ million budget. I'd say "don't expect a sequel" but you never know these days when they'll make a cheapo sequel (or reboot) to anything, "Branding" being everything in Hollywood.

01 DESPICABLE ME 2 $82.5 *NEW* (cum. $142)
02 THE LONE RANGER $29.4 *NEW* (cum. $48.9)
03 THE HEAT  $25 (cum. $86.3) Capsule
04 MONSTERS UNIVERSITY  $19.5 (cum. $216.1) Review
05 WORLD WAR Z $18.2 (cum. $158.7) Review 
06 WHITE HOUSE DOWN  $13.5 (cum. $50.4)
07 MAN OF STEEL  $11.4 (cum. $271.2) Superheroes and Security
08 KEVIN HART: LET ME EXPLAIN $10.1 *NEW* (cum. $17.4)
09 THIS IS THE END $5.8 (cum. $85.8)
10 NOW YOU SEE ME $2.7 (cum. $110.4)

Of Note: Now You See Me has to be the sole contender for 'biggest hit of 2013 that nobody ever talks about' right? It's like one of those ol' CBS dramas from years past that were always super high in the Nielsens but had zero pop culture caché. 

Armie & Johnny get a look at their box office grosses



Honest question: who takes the blame for The Lone Ranger's failure to ignite? We've seen in the past that Hollywood is loathe to question the earning power of stars as big as Johnny Depp (note how long shtick-maestros John Travolta and Nicolas Cage were able to command huge paychecks in the 90s and Aughts with far far less in the way of consistent box office performance than Depp). Director Gore Verbinski has several blockbusters under his belt, too. Will they scapegoat the whole thing on poor Armie Hammer? He sure is handsome but he does seem to have been anointed the next big leading man far far sooner than his filmography requested. In fact, people were throwing leading roles and money at him after just one major supporting role (The Social Network), a film which he hardly had to carry or even elevate given how great it was coming together from virtually every angle. 

In platform limited release the coming-of-age summer film The Way Way Back (with a great cast that features Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and more) won the biggest numbers of the weekend which bodes well for its future. The documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, about backup singers to famous rock stars, continues to pull in big numbers on track to becoming the biggest doc hit of the year. Will an Oscar nomination follow? Oscar does like movies about the difficulties of showbiz. Oscar relates even if he's the biggest and sturdiest star of all. 

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Reader Comments (24)

I watched 'The Way Way Back' this weekend and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a familiar coming-of-age story, but it's very funny and entertaining. It has a very nice cast, especially Sam Rockwell who is really funny. I liked it much more than 'The Descendants', although how much input Nat Faxon and Jim Rash had in that movie is unknown to me.

I was also intrigued by the idea of a 'Lone Ranger' movie, but the advertisements and the insufferable Johnny Depp schtick kept me out of theaters.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Saw THE HEAT. Very, very funny. Probably the funniest film I've seen all year.

As for LONE RANGER, yeah it disappointed but I'm shocked it even made THAT much.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I would'nt put the blame on Armie since Johnny's name is even before his and he's supposed to be the supporting character. Armie really can't catch a break it seems. Maybe he'll have more success if he joins the Magic Mike sequel? *cough*

and when will Johnny stop with all the quirky characters? It totally looks like another Tim Burton joint especially the glimpse of HBC i saw in one of the previews. Are those two like a package deal or something?

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

I'll be seeing The Lone Ranger tomorrow night, but my BF wanted to see Despicable Me 2 first so we did that. We had a great time - laughed our asses off. It's very charming, very sweet, and I'm not at all surprised that it was the lopsided choice of families this weekend.

Re: the Ranger, all of the above in the poll, but for me these were the big factors: 1) opening against DM2, a much more appealing family alternative, 2) stronger than expected holdover competition for the adult male action crowd from World War Z, MOS and White House Down, 3) very little apparent appeal to women (even Prince of Persia made sure to show off Jake Gyllenhaal's torso, not that it helped) 4) a muddy marketing effort, and 5) Depp fatigue. Though I think this is bound to be overrated, it could be argued, after Pirates 4, that the Depp/Disney schtick thing has played itself out and is on a sharp downward slope in its appeal to US audiences (worldwide is another matter).

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I actually think Armie has been rather smart about his choices... he hasn't technically carried a film all on his own yet, which is probably smart. He's gone the supporting route. But possibly hurting him is the fact that he has no intrigue...he's vanilla and married to a civilian. He also likes to pretend that he's not the heir to a mega fortune.

I am surprised this flopped and WWZ didn't since they were both said to be messes behind the scenes. But Brad Pitt was definitely working the ho stroll harder than Depp and it paid off.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

It's the studio's own fault. Westerns are risky nowadays and to throw that kind of money into one was reckless and foolhardy. In earlier times Westerns were churned out because they could be done cheaply and had a basic good vs. evil conflict built in more or less so they didn't need a lot of flash. Those are things all the studios seem to have forgotten so they don't trust the basic elements and stick aliens or machines that couldn't have possibly existed at the time thereby taking the audience out of the film. Wild, Wild West, Cowboys and Aliens and now this are all examples of this, and if the audience can't engage with the film you're screwed.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6


I didn't even realise that Helena was in this too. But of course she was! God, those two really need to take some time apart. And it wouldn't hurt if Helena got into a lover's quarrell with Tim, so that she'd probably challenge herself again. And so would Tim.

I imagine how those business meetings with Tim go at Disney: 'look people, I got four things for you: Gothic parafernalia and scenery, Helena and Johnny and Danny Elfman. Deal?'

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Of those reasons, all of which are valid, I think the marketing was the largest factor. The film was plastered all over the place, but beyond the basic premise I didn't have the foggiest idea what kind of movie this was. Based on the reviews, the filmmakers didn't either. That's a problem with audiences who like to know what they're getting before they shell out $50+ for a family of four.

It's also a problem of scale. Had The Lone Ranger been made for $100 million, we'd be talking about how Depp and Verbinski managed to resurrect an 80-year-old character from pop culture purgatory. Unfortunately, the studio turned what could've been a fun adventure flick into a bloated mess. Where did that $215 million go? What did it buy the studio?

I've largely avoided the theater this year (I saw just 4 new films there: Before Midnight, Mud, Oblivion and Stoker) because of how ho-hum the selection has been. There just haven't been many films that I couldn't wait to see and I will not support Hollywood's boom-bust blockbuster mentality. </rant>

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

joel6 said it well.

With the successful westerns that have been done on TV recently (Deadwood, even Hell on Wheels) you would think the studios would realize that they have to be realistic to work especially in light of the failures of Wild Wild West and Cowboys and Aliens and even the moderate success of 310 to Yuma. Plus, the marketing was all Pirates and an unrecognizable J Depp which is getting old.

But the killer was the reviews. When a major review's tagline is "What were you thinking?" you don't have much of a chance.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry O.

I didn't even know The Lone Ranger came out until I passed by the local movie palace and saw it on the marquee. I assumed it was part of their classic Saturday morning series until I saw 8 billion articles pop up when I got home about the colossal failure of the new film.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

If the movie had been all about HBC's and Fichtner's characters with the Ranger and Tonto in the background, it would have been much more interesting.

Oh yeah, and if it was a half-hour shorter.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I heard they are renaming The Lone Ranger as Pirates of the Caribbean 5, and rebranding Tonto as Captain Tonto Sparrow. LOL.

I did watch The Lone Ranger and Despicable Me, and to be honest it was not a good movie weekend. Anyhow I like the formal better than the latter. As for the minion, I never quite understand why all the affection towards a supporting character in a movie that's not even that good. It seems like it was the only thing my friends are posting on Facebook now. It's very much like Scrat from Ice Age. But at least they have not churned out a whole spin-off movie for Scrat (yet), Minion's coming next year and it's the same posts on Facebook all over again.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

To explain "Now You See Me", it's a pretty decent film with a few fun twist that came out in a small lull between blockbusters and managed to do a little damage.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

I just realized that "Now You See Me" is STILL in the Top Ten. That I really can't explain. I mean it was good but not overly so. I guess people are craving more originality - or at least non franchise based films - than is being perceived.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Am I the only one who finds Johnny Depp playing a native american extremely offensive? That was enough of a turn off for me, despite it also looking like crap.

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Philip H.-- The Johnny Depp/Native American thing is a controversy that's been going on for a long time before he accepted the role of Tonto. He claims to be part Cherokee, but supposedly he's never been able to confirm this. A few Cherokee tribe members have expressed distaste for some comments he's made in regards to his alleged Cherokee ancestry, specifically one in which he asserted that he was probably the product of rape somewhere down the line because of his Native American ties (which both continued the questionable claim that he is indeed a Cherokee descendant and put forth the very misguided notion that white/Native American ancestry automatically means rape was involved).

July 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Saw Monsters University and The Bling Ring this weekend. MU was cute and fun and almost went off in some surprising, interesting directions, but then settled for just being merely cute and fun. Bling Ring I highly enjoyed. Emma Watson was hilarious, the stand-out of an excellent ensemble (they were all very good, really). I liked the film indicted the celebrity "victims" ever-so-subtly for what happened, and as a window into a certain young, thin, bored, technology-addled, California-dwelling subset of the population, it was sort of fascinating.

I also caught up with last year's Farewell My Queen, which I absolutely LOVED. Great performances from Lea Seydoux and Diane Kruger.

RE: The Lone Ranger, everyone I know cited the bad reviews as why they didn't go. I was actually disappointed it got bad reviews, because I like Armie Hammer and thought Depp looked pretty good, but in this case, when the reviews are universally awful, I can wait until I don't have to pay $10 per person to see it.

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I think Armie knew that he was probably going to be the Watson of the movie. Problem is the writers gave him nothing to do even if it was his origins story. I personally thought he was award-worthy as the Winklevoss twins and showed some comic gamesmanship in Mirror, Mirror. Hell, he earned a SAG nod for J. Edgar (though everybody in that movie suffered from the fact it was pre-ordained Oscar bait with some rough make-up). The production team should've just gone for him being a silly square lawman than to have taken the dark beats that not even the revisionist darker Westerns have gone before (scalpings and heart-eating in a Disney movie?). It would have fit the movie better. The Pirates movies were better when it had the silliness of its time and place like KK fainted due to a tight corset rather than beginning the movie with mass-hangings like it did in the third.

I can buy Armie Hammer as the anointed leading man than say Sam Claflin or any of the boys in The Hunger Games that are sure to get those same projects in the next decade.

Bottom Line, this property was not the movie to put into a 2013 big-budget production nor tell a gritty, really dark story of the West given its own of its time representations of the West. It is why the movie flopped.

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Nathan, I think all the reasons you named contributed. I would like to add that most reviewers noted the extreme violence of the movie, and parents are not going to take their kids to witness realistic depiction of genocide.

I am thrilled that this misguided enterprise bombed. It's a long-needed wakeup call for Depp, who really needs to show that he can still give a performance without funny hair or makeup. As a fan of the TV show, Dark Shadows really pissed me off. Sloppy, lazy and empty fillmmaking at its most cynical.

I agree with those who are offended that Johnny is playing a Native American. Beyond this fact, the representation of Tonto, from what I've read, is not exactly full of noble intentions. So much for granting our native peoples a modicum of dignity. I believe this should be at the top of the list for a revisionist Western.

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Depp playing a Native American is some offensive shit. Couple that with the awful reviews, I knew this had bomb written all over it. Razzies sweeper by any chance? I'm kind of hoping not, b/c I don't want to see Armie Hammer get the blame for this the way that Taylor Kitsch was scapegoated for "John Carter." Armie deserves to be a STAR, people!

And "Now You See Me" was very, very good. Don't sully its name with lame CBS procedurals! It's worth all the box office it's received so far and more. Hope more people give it a proper chance.

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPreston

I saw "Magic Mike Saves The World" ( White House Down) which is a good live action cartoon.

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I largely agree with W.J. and Robert G. To be honest I was hardly even aware of the movie. I mean, I've heard things about Johnny Depp playing Tonto, but I didn't know the movie had actually come out already until I started to read about it being a big flop. So my answer is this: it just didn't get enough buzz, not until after it had already failed.

If I had to guess, I'd say that people were unwilling to talk it up because of the uncomfortable controversy of Depp playing a Native American. And because people were unwilling to talk it up, it just didn't garner enough attention, so most people out here in the general audience were barely even aware of its existence.

July 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

You would think that someone would have told Disney that there was no interest in a Lone Ranger movie- or did anyone see "The Prince of Persia" another beautiful bore ?

July 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

In your poll you forgot,

"A level of Racism that was not seen in the original TV series, and a mockery of the original source material."

That is right, a 2013 movie was more racist then the 1947 TV show.

I believe that "The Lone Ranger" could have been successful if they had actually paid attention to the original, updated it of course. BUT NO, they went for gritty realism and a disregard for most of the core values.

July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGilhelmi

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