Director: Gore Verbinski
Disney’s latest tentpole, The Lone Ranger is underperforming at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo as of July 12th, it’s only made $87 million worldwide so far. This is far short of its reported budget of $215 million.
It was defeated by the animated film Despicable Me 2, which came out the same weekend. It’s already made over $300 million, which is more what Disney was looking for. Both were aimed at a family audience, at looks like there was only room for one over the holiday weekend.
The character of The Lone Ranger debuted on radio in 1933. It eventually became a TV show that ran from 1949 to 1957. There were two films based on the series as well as a 1981 film based on the character.
This film has been in development since 2007 and has been plagued by budget problems. It was at one point scheduled for a release date in 2011. The director Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, all had to do defer part of their salaries to cover the budget. Then it was scheduled for May 31, before being pushed back to the Fourth of July.
The final product is disappointing. One of many missteps is beginning the film with a questionable framing device involving an aged Tonto in a museum exhibit about Native Americans. It cuts back to this throughout the film.
This sort of establishes it as Tonto’s story. This is a complaint many reviewers have noted; the titular character plays second fiddle to Johnny Depp’s quirky portrayal. Armie Hammer just doesn’t have the star power or presence to compete. Depp’s performance is adequate, but it could be seen as somewhat stereotypical and insulting to Native Americans. He also calls the Lone Ranger “kemosabe” way too often. And the old age makeup on Tonto is unconvincing. There are some good actors in the supporting cast, such as James Badge Dale, Tom Wilkinson, and William Fichtner, but they are all wasted here.
Many in the media blamed the failure of The Lone Ranger on the fact that it is based on a character that most under 50 are unfamiliar with. People weren’t exactly clamoring for a Lone Ranger movie. But it could have at least made a decent showing if it hadn’t been so forgettable.
There’s a decent amount of over the top action, but it all feels like something we’ve seen plenty of times before. The film is also 2 and a half hours long; it probably should have been about 20 minutes shorter.