'Lone Ranger' team says movie critics to blame for weak box office

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 7 2013 2:45 p.m. MDT

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. (Disney) Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. (Disney)

How could a movie that cost a quarter of a billion dollars, was based on a known property and starred one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood turn out to be one of this summer’s biggest bombs?

According to the filmmakers and stars of said movie, Disney’s “The Lone Ranger,” it was the fault of critics.

Speaking with Yahoo! Movies UK in preparation for the film’s continued international rollout this week, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski, and stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer explained how negative reviews, not the quality of the film, are to blame for the disastrous box office.

“This is the deal with American critics,” said Hammer, who played the titular masked hero. “They’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time (due to budgetary concerns in 2011). And I think that’s probably when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews.”

Depp went one step further, saying, “I think the reviews were probably written when they heard that Gore (Verbinski) and Jerry (Bruckheimer) and I were going to do ‘The Lone Ranger’ (when it was announced in 2010). And their expectations of it — you know, that it must be a blockbuster or this and that. … I didn’t have any expectations of that, and I never do. Why would I?”

Bruckheimer proposed yet another theory, saying, “I think (critics) were reviewing the budget and not reviewing the movie. The audience doesn’t care what the budget is. They pay the same amount to see the movie whether it cost a dollar or $20 million.”

Or more than 10 times that, in the case of “The Lone Ranger.”

The one thing that definitely isn’t to blame, they all agreed, is the quality of the film.

“If you go back and read the negative reviews,” said Hammer, "most of them don’t actually have anything to do with the content of the movie, but more what’s behind it. It’s got to the point with American critics where if you’re not as smart as Plato, you’re stupid. That seems like a very sad way to live your life.”

Currently, “The Lone Ranger” has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 28 percent among critics. Audiences rated it better, giving it a 61 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on Cinemascore, while only 57 percent of ok.com users said it’s worth their time.

Factoring in marketing costs, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo says the company anticipates a loss of between $160 and $190 million on "The Lone Ranger," which has so far only grossed $87 million in the U.S.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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