'The Lone Ranger' Bombing at the Box Office. But Why?
So far, The Lone Ranger's first weekend has been fairly mediocre, with an opening day gross of $10 million, despite Johnny Depp's previous blockbuster record. (We like to pretend 2012's Dark Shadows never happened.) So what happened here? The Disney adventure was marketed as Pirates of the Caribbean 2.0, a rollicking, mindless (and possibly racist) adventure the whole family could enjoy. So why is The Lone Ranger so far finishing nearly $15 million short of fellow family release, Despicable Me 2? A few theories:
The Racist Allegations
This problem has been much discussed, but Depp's role as the Native American Tonto likely still felt distasteful to some. In a world filled with political correctness, Disney definitely took a safe bet, backing an A-list movie star to play the role versus a capable and potentially more nuanced Native American actor. It probably made sense in the studio think tank, but, in reality, it's going to be a tough summer for any film fielding racist critiques. Especially when the debate is more prevalent in the press than details of the film itself.
The Kids Don't Care
It's a sad fact that remakes are so fast and furious these days, and the age of the original Lone Ranger is probably working against the current reboot. It's a safe bet that the majority of the audience going to see the Armie Hammer and Depp version weren't even a distant thought in their mother's ovaries the last time a successful Lone Ranger came out, in 1956. Playful lines referencing the original Lone Ranger will most likely fall flat — contemporary audiences under the age of 80 likely won't remember the original. So who would be clamoring to see the film?
No One Likes Cowboys
The days of monosyllabic men riding horses across the dusty midwest are gone in actuality, so it's not surprising that their tales don't capture the national imagination like they used to. The face of American values no longer lies in herding cattle or cowboy ideals — if we're being honest with ourselves, those values have moved to Silicon Valley, gotten a face lift, and are currently driving a Porsche.
But Everyone Likes Minions
Why try to market a movie to children when a sequel to a proven success, Despicable Me, was already in theaters?
It seems these misfires are going to continue influencing viewer opinion, as Lone Ranger struggles to make even $50 million its first weekend. It's a shame too, we were hoping we could endorse a film that Johnny Depp spends entirely topless.