The 'Lone Ranger' could leave Disney up the creek

Critics have little but scorn for the film starring Johnny Depp as Tonto. Will moviegoers agree?

By Jonathan Berr Jul 3, 2013 12:02PM
Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid in The Lone Ranger (© Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc.)Walt Disney (DIS), which last summer stunk up the nation's multiplexes with "John Carter," may lay another egg at the box office this year with "The Lone Ranger."

Many reviews for the $250 million Western starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, which opens Wednesday, have been brutal. The film was directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who developed the hugely profitable "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise featuring Depp.

Though movies are sometimes able to overcome a mass of negative reviews, "The Lone Ranger" will face a tough road, given that most professional critics didn't just hate the film but despised it.

Shares of Disney ended nearly flat Wednesday after opening with a dip as investors braced for a box-office bomb. By the way, Disney took a $200 million write-down for its "John Carter" science fiction epic.

"As of now, 'Lone Ranger' is tracking to open in the $70 million range, meaning the film will need strong legs domestically and a stellar run internationally to come out ahead financially," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Here's a sampling of the scathing comments about the film that are just about everywhere now.

"Director Gore Verbinski's 'The Lone Ranger' is for anyone who thought the Native American guy from the Village People and a western-wear model would make the perfect blockbuster-action team," wrote Joe Neumaier in New York's Daily News.

Writing in The Atlantic, Richard Lawson spoke of "Verbinski's strange and scattershot movie, which veers wildly in tone in a way that insults both any reverence for the past and our simple intelligence as summertime moviegoers."

The Washington Post's Anne Hornaday lamented the film's "tonal clashes, wherein mournful scenes of genocide and stolen immigrant labor are tastelessly juxtaposed with silly slapstick humor, and solemn historic revisionism abuts awkwardly with overblown computer-generated spectacle."

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Jul 3, 2013 5:14PM
"John Carter" kicked azz, by the way. A leaked print of the DVD killed that movie. Everybody & their brother got a pirated copy of that movie. Why the hell go see it in a theatre ? If Disney did a "John Carter 2" and doesn't let the work print/ DVD get leaked; "John Carter 2" would be a success. Because most people liked it. If you saw and liked "John Carter", please thumb up this post.
Jul 3, 2013 1:47PM

The original series was NOT a comedy, the movie shouldn't be, either.


Oh, please.  These Fortune-500 companies expect a jillion percent increase in profits every minute.  If they don't get it, people panic.
Jul 3, 2013 2:51PM

From what I've seen so far, mostly trailers, it looks like Pirates of the Carribean Head West, with Captain Jack Sparrow dressing as an indian in order to avoid the authorities.

I hope it's better than that description.

Jul 3, 2013 3:09PM
What I've seen in the trailers leads me to believe that Disney has fallen into the old trap of thinking lots of "special effects" will make up for lousy screenwriting.  The one's I've seen are so hokey and unbelievable that the dialog would have to be pure Shakespeare to make up for them.
Jul 3, 2013 3:40PM
Disney lost its way a long time ago. 
Jul 3, 2013 4:22PM
Let's see. Disney has the largest market share of box office this year with 16% and almost $800 million dollars. That with only 3 movies Oz, Iron Man, and Monster, inc. So they have one dud. They still have planes coming out later this year that will make a ton of money. I don't see Disney in any financial trouble.
Jul 3, 2013 3:47PM
What about all the money they're making on the Marvel movies? John Carter was a flop, but the Avengers made a billion dollars.
Jul 3, 2013 5:04PM

I grew up watching a lot of these heroes and now they turn them into comedic fools, case in point : The Green Hornet. They endured for a reason, now they feel a need to turn them upside down & make them laughable with the sidekick truly the brains of the outfit. I'm expecting a new Tarzan movie where Cheeta is actually running the show & Tarzan is just a buffoon falling out of a tree.

Cheers to the Marvel Super Hero movies.

Jul 3, 2013 1:59PM
Sounds pretty entertaining just judging by the negative reviews in the article. PC does not a great summer movie make.
Jul 3, 2013 4:41PM
Personally I would like to see Depp get back to playing roles like he did in "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" and "Donnie Brasco". He is a talented actor, but I agree his "schtick" has run its course with these offbeat characters he likes to play. Quit doing Tim Burton movies for a while and at least attempt a movie without Helena Bonham Carter. As for Depp playing Tanto, I'm quickly reminded of the Italian-American actor that played "Chief Iron Eyes Cody", the iconic Indian figure we always saw with a tear rolling down his cheek as he looked down over a littered landscape. I feel that a true Native American actor, like Eddie Spears of the Lakota (Sioux) Nation, would have been a much better choice. I loved the original Lone Ranger series as a kid.... Way to go Disney... another movie I have no interest in seeing.
Jul 3, 2013 4:19PM
Zero desire to see this. From the trailers alone it looks idiotic and not in a good way.
Jul 3, 2013 4:07PM
I for one think the Johnny Depp schtick has run it's course.
Jul 3, 2013 4:16PM
I like Depp, but won't see this movie.  Not even sure of the premise based on the commercials for it...they just play it out as a Depp film...bad marketing.
Jul 3, 2013 3:50PM
I actually Liked John Carter for what it was. The Pirates series were ok although I think the first was the best because we didn't know what to expect. The last was very disappointing. Johnny Depp being a talented actor has done some pretty good movies but his version of Tonto SUCKS. From the previews alone I can guarantee I won't be watching it, and I am a huge Disney fan and collector. Too bad they even bothered with this one.
Jul 3, 2013 4:53PM
The Lone Ranger, good guys, bad guys, horses, chases, shoot em ups.  And The Ranger and Tonto ride to the rescue.  Now comes Disney's version,a spooky looking "Tonto" running the show, and he doesn't have a clue.  All of it encapsulated into a closing scene done on computer.  Not worth the money to go see. 
Jul 3, 2013 3:34PM
I remember the Lone Ranger, I still have the action figures, although they aren't in the best of shape. I also remember Dark Shadows being a drama, not some cornball comedy like the movie was. This will be yet another movie I'll pass on seeing.
Jul 3, 2013 3:31PM
We've got Johnny Depp in it what could go wrong? Ha, ha, ha, ha! Movie comes across like they had four or five directors working on it but never at the same time and no one knew what the other was striving for.
Jul 3, 2013 3:55PM
Disney's just mad they couldn't sign Paula Deen to do a DJANGO sequel.
Jul 3, 2013 5:07PM

The biggest problem John Carter had was... Disney.  They used an "outside" marketing firm that went out of it's way to refer to anything "of Mars" or to even mention that JC was the first sci-fi hero.  When those ads didn't track well, Disney panicked and through a whole new marketing campaign out there.  All of which added another $150-200 million to the price tag.  It did very well overseas.  Just not here.  With a lot going to the mixed marketing signals.


Lone Ranger will depend on how much silly you can take.  A lot of people saw that first photo of Depp with the bird on his head - shook their own and said "not me"  I was all for giving it a go until I saw the bit with the horse leaping onto and then into a moving train.  Just don't think I can stretch credibility that far...

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