‘The Lone Ranger’ Cast & Filmmakers Blame Critics for Box Office Failure

Published 2 years ago by , Updated August 6th, 2013 at 4:37 am,

Lone Ranger Cast and Crew Blame Critics for Box Office Flop The Lone Ranger Cast & Filmmakers Blame Critics for Box Office Failure

The Lone Ranger certainly had a troubled production history, one involving (unnecessarily?) massive budgets, mystical werewolves, being canceled, and being rewritten, retooled, and relaunched. Of course, plenty of movies with troubled productions and/or werewolves have gone on to be huge successes. Jaws, for example, was a notorious train-wreck of a shoot, but the movie ended up being the epitome of box office success in 1975.

Still, many more troubled movies do not go on to be huge successes, and The Lone Ranger is just the most recent example (the movie could end up losing $150 million or more). But how? How did a film from the folks who brought you Pirates of the Caribbean – a franchise that has earned $3.72 billion worldwide – flop so terribly? Was it because the movie itself was bad? Not so, according to the cast and filmmakers.

Yahoo! Movies (UK & Ireland) recently interviewed director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer about the very bad reviews the film has gotten in the U.S. (it’s currently at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes), and they all but laid the film’s box office blame at the feet of the critics.

According to Armie Hammer:

“This is the deal with American critics. They’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time. And I think that’s probably when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews. [...] They tried to do the same thing with to ‘World War Z,’ it didn’t work, the movie was successful. Instead they decided to slit the jugular of our movie.”

It seems strange to bring up World War Z as another example of critics trying to destroy a film based on their preconceived notions of it, especially since that film received fairly solid reviews (almost 40% higher than The Lone Ranger on RT) and has grossed nearly half a billion dollars at the box office. A better example would be, say, John Carter, which – despite its critical reputation – is actually considered by many to be underrated.

lone ranger armie hammer The Lone Ranger Cast & Filmmakers Blame Critics for Box Office Failure

Johnny Depp felt that American critics prejudged the film, as well:

“I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore [Verbinksi] and Jerry [Bruckheimer] and me were going to do ‘The Lone Ranger.’ Then their expectations of it that, you know, it must be a blockbuster. I didn’t have any expectations of that. I never do. Why would I?”

The answer: Probably because it cost blockbuster dollars to produce and market – $375 million dollars by some estimates. If it wasn’t supposed to make blockbuster dollars, maybe it shouldn’t have cost blockbuster dollars? Just a thought.

Jerry Bruckheimer said that The Lone Ranger is the sort of film that will have a critical revival in a few years:

“I think that they 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. [...] It’s one of those movies that, whatever critics missed it this time, will re-review it in a few years and see that they made a mistake. [...] The critics keep crying for original movies. You make one, and they don’t like [it], so what can I tell you?”

Bruckheimer’s comment that the film is “original” seems a bit strange – when people say they want original content in their films, they don’t typically mean they want a reboot of a property from a 1933 radio show that has previously been adapted into TV, movies, comic books, and just about every other storytelling medium multiple times.

lone ranger trailer1 The Lone Ranger Cast & Filmmakers Blame Critics for Box Office Failure

Regardless, director Verbinski sort of echoed Bruckheimer’s statement:

“Our movie is not a sequel, and it doesn’t have giant robots and the Lone Ranger can’t fly. I think we’re counter-programming. So, if you want to see something different, come see the movie. It’s odd to be given a lashing because of that.”

But did the film really get a lashing because it was “different“? Or did critics just genuinely not enjoy the movie? After all, a number of people thought the film was a bit of a rip-off of the great Mask of Zorro movie from the 1990s starring Antonio Banderas – which, like Ranger, was written by Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.

Obviously, it’s not a shock to see the people who worked on a film defend it from its critics. It has to be pretty disappointing to put so much effort into making a movie, only to see it flop at the box office amid a myriad of scathing critiques.

What do you think, Screen Ranters? Was the critical drubbing that The Lone Ranger received undeserved? Drop us a line in the comments.


The Lone Ranger is in theaters now.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

Sources: Yahoo! Movies (UK & Ireland), The NY Times & The Hollywood Reporter

Follow Ben Moore on Twitter @benandrewmoore
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  1. I personally had no desire to see a movie where the sidekick is bigger then the hero. Plus its campy. I love the string of westerns that have come out in the last decade…ie 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit (remake), The proposition, there will be blood, django unchained,appaloosa…why did Disney try to remake The lone ranger as a kids movie when clearly only adults are interested in Westerns.

    • And why does height matter in a movie…I think more movies should have a shorter main hero and taller sidekicks to eliminate this BS height thing society has. I got nothing against tall men, I’m a 5’11 lady myself, but this height thing is gone too far. Short men=tall men unless it involves sports, then height matters there.

      They should get 5’3-5’6 actor to play wolverine once Hugh Jackman is done.. I mean he is 5’3 in the comics.

  2. We Americans can be terrible at placing blame where blame is due…the movie trailers looked dull & lifeless. No way I was gonna see The Lonely ranger over MOS or Pacific Rim or any other awesome superhero movie that came out at the same time.

    The problem was that the Movie Producers dident want to blame the real reason the movie bombed…the American public. I could see if The Lonely ranger was the only blockbuster summer movie in 2013…but there was such an endless choice of movies…& well…It (the trailer) dident grab my attention enough to give it a second look.

  3. The reason it bombed was because it sucked…….I have lost all respect for Johnny Depp also.Except for the first Pirates of the Caribbean,the rest were just garbage.He has become nothing less than a whore….sad

  4. I unfortunately missed it but will catch it on DVD. I usually go with the thought that if critics hate it, then I usually love it!

  5. It bomb because it didn’t feel or look like the lone ranger that most of grew up with ..they made it a comedy…didn’t know who their target audience was..and it was cast wrong

  6. The movie bombed because it was terrible. I said so loud and clear in my blog post: “Super Horse, Stupid Crow, Crazy Tonto, Clueless Ranger’: http://aknextphase.com/?p=92. I also told everyone I knew who was thinking about seeing the movie to save their money for something much better.

    Blaming the critics for the disaster that is The Lone Ranger is denial pure and simple. I can see where rich and powerful Hollywood men like Bruckheimer find it tough to take the blame for such a big loss but that’s what they need to do. Just the way Disney is about to take a loss of nearly $200 million on Johnny Depp’s ego trip.

    My husband and I are two of probably 100 people in the US who saw both The Lone Ranger and John Carter. I can say unequivocally that John Carter was by far the better film. It should have gotten better treatment from the critics and it deserves to be re-discovered at some point in the future.

  7. The movie was no worse than the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Both movies are silly, action movies that have action sequences that go on too long. I liked both movies because I knew what I was getting into. The Lone Ranger wasn’t awesome, but it also wasn’t as bad as critics have said. I think when critics look at a huge price tag movie, their expectations get set really high (because they are part of “the business”) and when the movie isn’t spectacular they tear it to shreds.

  8. I don’t pay attention to critics. I didn’t see it because it didn’t look interesting. I like Depp, but he’s not a native American, and I’m sure there are many native Americans trying to break into show business.

    It just looked hokey and boring.

    I may see it later and have my socks blown off, but if thats the case, blame the crappy uninteresting trailer, and casting decisions based on popularity rather than accuracy.

    What whiney little bitches they are. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR POOR CHOICES HOLLYWOOD.

  9. Denial is powerful. I watched the interview and then wrote another blog post: Back to the Lone Ranger–Breathing Your Own Exhaust in La-La Land. These guys are so deep in denial and so invested in their own legends that they can’t see they really made a very bad movie. The post is at: http://aknextphase.com/?p=639

  10. A bad movie is a bad movie. Suck it up guys. You made a stinker. The critics are not to blame. Many people don’t really care what critics say when they go to see movies. However, your movie from the trailers made it look like a complete mess.

  11. First goof: The movie was set in the desert. Half of America is burning up in the summer heat. Subliminally, the movie trailers were sending ripples of discomfort throughout the collective subconscious of America.

    Second goof: The trailer did not adequately explain what the plot was about. From what i gathered from the trailers, I assumed the movie was about two dudes fighting a runaway train. You either go for esoteric (a la ‘Inception’) or you go for a good sum-up of the film that highlights all the cool scenes you think you audience would like. If your movie fails on both ends of this, it will fail overall (most likely)

  12. I have one answer for why the lone ranger flopped: johnny depp as tonto. enough said.

  13. I decided not to watch it because of the obvious white washing, plain and simple. This movie joined the ranks of The Last Airbender and Dragonball:Evolution. Forreals, I also understand why Verbinski dissed Pacific Rim, because f*** original screenplays right? Keep crapping out reboots and remakes with the same pool of white men and women? And you’re marketing to foreign countries as well? Oh, cry me a river. Disney and other distributors, STOP WHITEWASHING!

  14. Yeah, um, I’m calling BS on critics killing the movie. If critics had that much power then the Transformers franchise would have been dead after the first movie and the Pirates series would have gone the same way after Dead Man’s Chest.

    Production problems alone aren’t enough to make a movie bomb either, especially as bad Ranger. Anyone remember everyone expecting Titanic to flop due to it going way overbudget and behind schedule? And then it went on to make over 2 billion worldwide and take home 11 Oscars to boot. Why? Because, unlike Ranger, it’s a damn good movie that lots of people enjoyed.

    Lone Ranger bombed because it’s a crummy movie based on a character that most people under sixty or seventy have never heard of and it had to face off against tough contenders like IM3, Man of Steel, and Despicable Me 2. And the fact that it’s a Western isn’t helping. Barring the occasional surprise hit like Django Unchained and the True Grit remake Westerns generally don’t do very well financially even if they don’t cost a whopping 225 million plus marketing costs. Cowboy and Aliens, Jonah Hex, Wild Wild West all flopped and none of them cost nearly as much as Ranger did.

  15. They blame critics? How pathetic. Why can’t anyone in Hollywood ever take responsibility for making a terrible movie?

  16. I just figured out why Lone Ranger bombed, other than that it was terrible.

    It came out the same week as Despicable Me 2! I mean come on, what do kids want to see more? Minions vs Lone Ranger? Its not even close.

  17. I agree with the comment about “John Carter” being a far superior film to “the Lone Ranger”. “John Carter” had a good story, great special effects, adventure and romance. Plus its humorous touches were superior to what showed up in the “Lone Ranger”. And of course the “Lone Ranger” seemed to be proud of the gore, bizarre characters and general amorality of 99% of the people portrayed. Maybe if the film industry wants to make a movie of a known character, they should try to give people the positive aspects that made that character popular in the first place — instead of trying to destroy the legend. Why make the Lone Ranger a kind of fool to feel sorry for and make Tonto an eccentric outcast. I recall from previous versions that Tonto was a very strong, moral and positive person. When a filmmaker ignores the positive and stresses the negative it will mean fewer viewers at the Cineplex.

  18. “Do you want the truth Kemosabe?”
    “I seek Justice Tonto and Justice can only be found when the truth is known.”
    These are not lines from the film but my own. I write them because despite the myriad of reviews about this film I fear the truth has not been told, and without the truth true justice cannot be given to the film. I hope, with the reader’s indulgence I can provide the truth. Of course my comments will be subjective, but I will be honest in explanation of from where they come .
    First and foremost I am a film fan. I have been for 50 years since the time my father allowed me to accompany him to the projection room at a small town cinema in Wales where he worked as a projectionist. I am also a massive fan of the Lone Ranger. I remember watching him on Saturday afternoons in my grandmother’s house. I was taken in by his steadfast morality and bravery. He taught me many lessons on what was right and wrong and challenged me to take the path of good in my childhood and adolescence. So I write both as a film fan and a fan of the Lone Ranger.
    Since over 25 years ago, when it was reported in the Daily Mirror that a new Lone Ranger film was going to be made and directed by John Landis (what happened to that project?) I have been waiting for the Lone Ranger to hit the big screen. Another production, The Legend of the Lone Ranger starring Klinton Spilsbury was mad., Despite criticism from many, this movie portrayed the legend well, but overall it was not a superb film.
    I was overjoyed when this new movie starring Armie Hammer as the Ranger eventually came to fruition but was so dismayed with the poor critical reviews which seem obviously the reason why the film flopped in the USA. I feel somewhat dismayed that the public were unable to make their own mind up instead of relying on faceless biased reviews.
    Go and see the film. Didn’t make that clear? GO AND SEE IT.
    I am spelling it out because so many of the critiques have been written in such a negative fashion from the outset. There was so much dissent that by the time something vaguely positive was mentioned, I guess most readers would have given up.
    One of the criticisms is that the film at two and a half hours duration is far too long. Idisagree. Are the critics suggesting that the attention span of the film goer is so short that they would not last the duration of the film? The pace of the movie is such that when it ended I was barely aware that 147 minutes had passed. Do the critics think that film audience are so limited in intelligence that we can only pay attention for an hour and a half? The Lone Ranger is not too long. You will be thrilled. You will be engrossed. The story telling is engaging, the photography is excellent and the soundtrack superb.
    Critics are eager to point out that there is much violence in the film. This censure alone may be enough to put off parents taking their children to see it. There is a lot of shooting in it (what classic western doesn’t have that?) but there is very little blood. Much of the violence is by implication and is not graphic. Even the much derided cannibal scene is tastefully handled (no pun intended). The action is covert – enough to indicate the horrific act to the adult viewer but not so overt to make it clear to the younger audience. The film illustrates the violent times of the Wild West as it is an inherent part of the story and to does it in a way that allows the film to be suitable to be seen by the whole family.
    The Lone Ranger film has been has been judged as a film that clumsily attempts to incorporate too many styles in an effort to satisfy many expectations and in an endeavour to do so provided an untidy mishmash of unfocussed storytelling. See the film for yourself, immerse yourself in it and it is my guess that you will not agree. The very difficult task of producing a film to satisfy a family audience has been successfully achieved with a capable balance of humour, heroism, relationships, honour, morality and downright excitement. The film does not lose its way. It show a violent and corrupt time in early American history and uses humour to lighten the tone. It does this competently.
    One of the most annoying criticisms I have read is that the film includes too many scenes/ideas copied from other classic westerns. What of the phrase – Imitation is the best form of flattery? References are made to previously released westerns , even Soldier Blue ,( the critics missed that one), but this re-use of ideas is surely a great tribute to a great genre, and I guess many were done tongue in cheek. What must be remembered too is that the Lone Ranger was originally a show for children. By incorporating ideas from these classic westerns it helps bring the character into the adult world.
    If you have no preconceptions of the Lone Ranger, or you are not of my age and a great fan from the 50s and 60s you will be totally taken in by this film and will be thoroughly entertained. As a film with the intention to entertain the whole family I award it 5 stars out of 5. Part 2 follows:
    To the reader, thank you for your indulgence so far. I would like to end by offering my opinion of the film from the perspective of a childhood fan of the title character and also to offer a very personal view of why the film was berated so much by the critics. I believe that Johnny Depp’s apparent arrogance towards the title’s character in the planning stage and production alienated him from the critics. Rightly he wanted to portray Tonto in a more intelligent respectful way than Native American Indians were customarily played in earlier western movies. His desire to do this was marred by his lack of respect for the character of the Lone Ranger. If what I have read is correct, in the planning stage it appears that he even considered the Lone Ranger as somewhat of a fool with Tonto being the superior individual. (Some evidence of this is in the film). This is not equality. The Lone Ranger Creed declares, “ That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.”
    When I learned that a new Lone Ranger film was being considered I wanted to see a Lone Ranger and Tonto film, not a Johnny Depp star vehicle in which he plays a character called Tonto in a film called the Lone Ranger. Throughout the planning and production all the hype seemed to be about Depp and not the Lone Ranger. Some critics, may have been disappointed by Depp’s lack of reverence to this legendry hero whilst giving excessive attention given to his own self importance.
    Another reason for the poor reviews was in my opinion the uninteresting early previews of the film. Trailers 3 and 4 however did get my attention and as I began to learn more about its production I decided that the film certainly deserved a viewing.
    Despite my earlier comments on Mr. Depp I am very pleased to concede that his acting in his portrayal of Tonto was excellent. Comic timing was superb and soon into the film I began to believe that he was Tonto. Even his unusual headgear soon integrated into his character and became unobtrusive. The reason for it is explained in the film.
    Armie Hammer does a reasonable job playing the Ranger and I would be happy seeing him, more maturely taking on the role again. He is tall and handsome but his looks seem too boyish and he does not command the screen presence the Ranger needs. There was something about his characterization that was missing – an earnestness perhaps? We all need a hero in our lives. The Lone Ranger is mine, but sadly Armie Hammer’s portrayal does not quite live up to my expectations.
    Most of the Lone Ranger’s trademarks feature in the movie – the silver bullets, black mask, white hat and the magnificent horse Silver. Even Tonto’s horse Scout makes an appearance but not until the very end of the film. The Ranger’s revised clothing works and after a while I stopped mourning the absence of the blue shirt and trousers synonymous with the Ranger of the comic books and small screen.
    If you are a Lone Ranger fan and you go to the cinema expecting to see the character of previous films and television you may be disappointed. If you go with an open mind and allow yourself to absorb in this new interpretation you will be entertained and satisfied. As the film reaches its climax and the Lone Ranger appears on his fiery horse in a cloud of dust (smoke more accurately in this film) to the rousing sound of the William Tell Overture I guarantee that you will be transported back to those thrilling days of yesteryear. With a hearty cry of Hi-Yo Silver the Lone Ranger rides again.
    I award 4 stars out of 5 for this interpretation.
    Help save the Lone Ranger. Go and see this film.
    Endnote: At the very end of the film the question is asked – Did the Lone Ranger really exist? I know the answer and I know his identity. He was of course……..Clayton Moore.


  20. Im not a professional writer or film critic. Just a regular consumer of occasional Hollywood films. This movie was horrible. I rented it with mediocre hopes of entertainment, and fell asleep before half the movie was over. Its just boring and at the same time, tries too hard to be “action packed” and “witty”. It abundantly clear that they were trying to make another Pirates movie, and sanctimoniously destroyed the Lone Ranger image. Even worse was the horrible display of Tonto, which actually made me cringe a few times. A slightly different character than Captain Jack, but completely insulting to Native culture and intelligence. Way to degrade an entire race Mr Depp.
    My interpretation of the movie:
    This movie just plain sucked a big one.
    Johnny Depp can play only offbeat, disillusioned pirate-like characters.
    The Lone Ranger always seemed confused.
    The movie tried to be good, but tried too hard, didnt have a coherent plot line with any realistic action to increase incentive to follow the little bit of plot that was there.

  21. Im not a professional writer or film critic. Just a regular consumer of occasional Hollywood films. This movie was horrible. I rented it with mediocre hopes of entertainment, and fell asleep before half the movie was over. I did make myself watch the whole thing just to give it a fair trial. Its just plain boring and at the same time, tries too hard to be “action packed” and “witty”. It abundantly clear that they were trying to make another Pirates movie, and sanctimoniously destroyed the Lone Ranger image. Even worse was the horrible display of Tonto, which actually made me cringe a few times. A slightly different character than Captain Jack, but completely insulting to Native culture and intelligence. Way to degrade an entire race Mr Depp.
    My interpretation of the movie:
    This movie just plain sucked a big one.
    Johnny Depp can play only offbeat, disillusioned pirate-like characters.
    The Lone Ranger always seemed confused.
    The movie tried to be good, but tried too hard, didnt have a coherent plot line with any realistic action to increase incentive to follow the little bit of plot that was there.

  22. Wow.
    So much hate for an actual fun movie. Interesting :P