“It could be worse.”
The Lone Ranger says this to Tonto during a prickly moment in the film. Disney, on the other hand, is not so sure. The Lone Ranger managed to scrape up just $48.9 Million over the holiday weekend. ($29.4 million if you just count the Friday through Sunday sales.) Critics everywhere are calling The Lone Ranger a flop. The reviews were bad and the ticket sales support their voice. Here’s the problem though; I saw The Lone Ranger and liked it.
I wasn’t the only one. My wife liked it too, as well as pretty much everyone in the entire theater. In fact the audience applauded the movie, not once but twice! (Once during the climatic action scene at the end and again when the credits rolled.) I have to say, when I saw who was entering the theater to watch the movie, I was afraid they were going to hate it. I live in the second oldest county in the United States, age-wise, according to the census bureau, which means these people have a lot more invested in this movie than me. The Lone Ranger is their childhood hero; someone they grew up either watching on television or hearing on the radio. (Yes some of the people in the audience were that old) If any group has a right to be judgmental, it’s them. As I said, they loved it.
So why did it fail then? Competition. Pure and simple. Despicable Me 2 dominated the movies over the weekend. With a strong cast, targeted audience, and the familiarity of knowing what you’re going to get going in, it was a slam dunk. Disney put The Lone Ranger up against a known element that had a strong viewer base and tried to compete against it with expected results. (They might have different ratings, but the wanted age demographics were too similar.) A similar thing happened with Star Trek Nemesis. It was released in direct competition with Lord of the Ring’s The Two Towers. Even Trek’s strong following could not keep up with this awaited sequel.
But did it really fail? Not when you look at its genre. Westerns don’t seem to be big block buster movies. True Grit, a remake of the 1968 original was praised for its more than double expected sales with its opening weekend earnings of $25.6 million. Cowboys and Aliens, and Wild Wild West also grossed similar earnings. The flaw in The Lone Ranger is thinking that it would quickly make up its $225 million production costs. That was as unrealistic and idealistic as Reid’s outlook on society. Will it make its money back? Maybe – Eventually.
The Lone Ranger is a movie that needs to be taken on its own merits. It is not True Grit, Dancing With Wolves, or any other western of the classic style. It’s a fun movie full of humor and action with a myriad of other Johnny Depp movie cues thrown in for trivia and future drinking games. If you want to spend a few hours in movie escapism, The Lone Ranger is a straight shooter.