‘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. Haven’t seen it although I did enjoy the potc trilogy (yes trilogy), would probably still see this movie, doesn’t look great but im sure some fun can be had with it… I think.

  2. I decided not to see it when I found out it had a white guy playing an American Indian.

    • That’s stupid, hipster doofus.

      Not that it matters but Depp has a small amount of Indian in him anyways.

        • Ha, most White American’s have Native Indian blood, on their hands and not in their veins :)

          • That’s not true.

      • And Paula Patton’s father was white yet nobody’s going to cast her as a white character.

    • +1

  3. Haha cant disagree with you there, Im not part of the Armie Hammer fanbase either, dont see anything special about him. That could change but I doubt it.

    • When you heard about the half a million dollars made, that was in reference to “World War Y,” the very-low-budget knock-off of “World War Z” from The Asylum, makers of “Sharknado!” ;-)

  4. i think personally, in this generation, not many know about the Lone Ranger with its long history in film, radio, and tv. I was born when they showed the old Lone Ranger episodes on tv and so I was familiar with who he was and Tonto as well. I thought the movie itself was ok but could have been done better. To me, the Lone Ranger was considered to be the Batman of its day. one who upheld the law and delivered Justice much like the film did bring. Having said that, it showed that the person of the Lone Ranger acted more slapstick than serious. I can understand what they were trying for but I guess it was too more into being Pirate slapstick than being its own Wild West setting as it should have been.

  5. Cowboy vs Alien was quite an origin approach but it didn’t fair well either. I personally think that adapting these cowboys genre may be a bit challenging nowadays because of it’s classic features which may need to be mordenize a bit just to capture younger audience attention.
    Another aspect is that most cowboy movies might work better if they are R rated (eg. Django Unchained).
    In other words this movie shouldn’t be made under epic scale. They are just too ambitious to brand another franchise.

  6. I am a Lonee Ranger fan.
    It broke my heart when the first effort to do a movie for it flopped.
    I saw this movie. I had high hopes for it.
    I didn’t like it. It broke my heart again.

    It was a bad movie.

  7. I personally liked the Film !
    Not american though,so maybe i miss something about Cowboys and indians,as i do not care if depp is playing one or not !

    For me the film did what I payed for,entertain me for a while !
    Good movie for that !

  8. I think critics only play a tiny fraction of a role in how well a movie does financially but I’d put the blame on marketing, it being a western, and the bloated number of summer movies it had to compete with. It went up against Despicable Me 2 and that was just a juggernaut this summer. I really enjoyed Lone Ranger and I think most of the general audience did too, judging by the B+ cinemascore they gave it. It’s definitely a divisive movie though.

    • This is true! The marketing made Johnny Depp and CGI the star when it should’ve gone for a less epic, more classic approach. it would’ve interested audiences more.

  9. I was sick of this movie 4 months before it even came out. Sat thru the terrible trailers before every movie I went to see. It never looked any good to me. That’s why I personally didn’t go. No outside influence at all in making my decision.

  10. actually, it was a very good movie ! With a lot of comedy, cool action, interesting characters…it was a great summer movie in my opinion. Very good movie, and shame there will not be a lone ranger 2…but hey, they will be a trasnformers 4 ! Yea, we needed that

  11. On a side note in depps defense, I do believe he is part Cherokee Indian so the attacks of a white guy playing a native American are not warranted. However the attacks of his whacky character in make up shtick being completely played out, are totally warranted.

    • Depp is a reported 1/18th Cherokee

  12. ::Shurg:: I liked it. At least as well as Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It had that same ‘nice surprise’ element. On the other hand, I’m glad there won’t be a sequel, because that is what ruined Curse of the Black Pearl :P

    • +1, I actually agree, even though part of me kinda wants a sequel, you are so right about the pirates thing.

  13. I saw the Lone Ranger because I hadn’t heard a single bad thing about it from anyone. People raved where I live (Chicago). Everybody I know loved the film! So although I had my doubts I said what the hell! I like Gore Verbinski, I like the Wild West, and Johnny Depp doesn’t hurt, so let’s see! Guess what? IT WAS AWESOME! While it may not have been the most original movie, it was DAMN entertaining and so true to the original show. maybe I never heard the radio show, but having grandparents that showed me the original series and now having seen the movie I can guarantee this is the kind of thing the writer’s were thinking of in their minds when they were making the old show, but couldn’t because of what was available. I think it might be the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in years, and DEFINITELY the most entertaining live action Disney film since the first Pirates. Tangled was phenomenal, but that was animated.

    I saw Lone Ranger again after that, and the second time I distinctly remember several very old people exiting the theatre grinning their old asses off and laughing about how much they loved it, and how similar it was to what they used to watch. It brings joy to my heart.

    Something that makes my heart go cold are people like all the critics, who prejudged the movie, and went in looking for the negative as I expected they would. And Hammer is right, they did the same thing with World War Z. The reason WWZ made it is because Brad Pitt is less prone to characature as Johnny Depp has become more of a joke lately than Pitt, and the book had a strong following and it was recent, and not considered a classic as Lone Ranger was. My friends and crew (I am an indie director), analyzed the film’s failure and drew the same conclusion as Hammer and the rest of the Lone Ranger team. I wanted a sequel too. shame.

    Now for some true backlash, Mr. Ben Moore, you should try to write your articles more neutrally. You are usually a fine writer, but it is clear here that you did not find The Lone Ranger a good film. Whether I liked the movie or not, you are not being very subjective here. Throughout your article after every quote you practically follow it up with an argument, all of which are either heavily opinionated or just flat out incorrect based on data. i.e. World War Z was slammed by critics, the site you are accessing for data must be skewed, and also the Lone Ranger is indeed original because sometimes adapting something 80 years old isn’t the freshest thing in our minds. People aren’t always looking for the next Avatar when they say Original, they’re looking for something “fresh” and “different” when they say original, that doesn’t necessarily mean “new”. For example, Pacific Rim got decent reviews and it was completely original, and yet it was not seen by many. Audiences chose to see Grown Ups 2 and Despicable Me 2 instead. However what you said about the blockbuster budget is true, less is more most of the time, and that applies everywhere, even here with Disney films.

    Everyone should go see the Lone Ranger with a fresh mindset. Forget all the garbage the media has been spouting at you, and hear it from me, an average, everyday american, who tells you just as a neighbor would, that it is a thrilling, funny, and entertaining flick, that is perfect for a nice afternoon with some friends. Just kick back, and enjoy the latest Disney film that will be one of the most memorable movies you’ll enjoy this year. Hi-Yo Silver, Away!

    • Wow, you doth protest too much. I’m amused by the fact that you wrote such a long defense if a crappy movie. Furthermore, Ben was justified in writing what he wrote. The excuses were ALL b.s.

    • “an average, everyday american”

      The same people who made Grown Ups 2 a blockbuster hit.

      “World War Z was slammed by critics, the site you are accessing for data must be skewed”

      Both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic have certified the film fresh.

      “Mr. Ben Moore, you should try to write your articles more neutrally”


    • “Now for some true backlash, Mr. Ben Moore, you should try to write your articles more neutrally. You are usually a fine writer, but it is clear here that you did not find The Lone Ranger a good film.”

      Whatever I thought of the film, I don’t think I said a single bad thing about it here.

      “Whether I liked the movie or not, you are not being very subjective here. Throughout your article after every quote you practically follow it up with an argument, all of which are either heavily opinionated or just flat out incorrect based on data. i.e. World War Z was slammed by critics, the site you are accessing for data must be skewed,

      Rottentomatoes and Metacritic are “skewed”? No, they’re just collecting the data from critics all across the Internet. World War Z did get some bad reviews, but it got more “good” reviews.

      “and also the Lone Ranger is indeed original because sometimes adapting something 80 years old isn’t the freshest thing in our minds.”

      In 2003, The Lone Ranger was adapted as a TV movie starring Chad Michael Murray – yes, THAT Chad Michael Murray, the star of hit series One Tree Hill. My point is, it’s not like they just made a 1933 Lone Ranger radio show and never touched the property again until 2013. Most people are aware of The Lone Ranger. Most people know that this movie was a reboot. I’ve never heard someone equate “original material” with “reboot.”

  14. I just hated the fact that Tonto got top billing over The Lone Ranger >.> something seemed wrong about that haha

    • Nice try Armie Hammer!

      • Haha whaaaaat

  15. funny how hammer felt there was a preconceived bias towards the film. same guy with a preconceived bias towards superhero films, who also thinks of batman as an invulnerable hero.

    and Bruckheimer similarly thought jay baruchel was a destined franchise star, handing him the keys to that nicolas cage collaboration a few years back. these guys are gold.

  16. Throwing more than a quarter of a billion dollars on a western is the reaaon why this movie flopped. Most westerns do not make money. Had it been made with a more moderate budget, it would have atood a chance and they might even have a franchise.

    Just because it was made by the same people who brought you the potc series doesn’t guarantee people wilk flock to the movie theatre. They were too greedy, too used to make giant movies that making one with a moderate budget became a foreign concept for them

    • I still dont know why it cost that much to make it was a western after all. True Grit made a $220 million dollar profit and only cost $38 million to make. Just saying!

  17. OH PLEASE…if people are swayed from watching a film because of what ‘Critics’ write about it then they shouldn’t be going to movies in the first place, these are the type of people that vote for President/Prime Minister based on how may babies they kiss.

    A critics job is the be critical of the film and report what they feel, I always read what critics say about a film before viewing but I will still watch it and make my own mind up, sometimes I agree with the review but quite often I don’t.

    I read a few reviews on Avatar and I disagreed with nearly all of them, after I watched it I was astounded by the visuals but I felt the film was seriously lacking…but I still parted with cash to watch it.

    With respect to The Lone Ranger and also John Carter before it, the guys making decisions as to which property they allow to hit the big screen need to do better homework in finding out what the people want to see, they are the ones at fault for spending 100+m on a film that doesn’t interest the public, it doesn’t matter how many ‘bankable’ stars are in the film if no one is interested in the first place.

    To lay the blame on critics is both easy and cowardly because they cant face up to the fact that they messed up!!!

    • You’re kidding right?

      You must be made of money and can afford to go see EVERY movie put out but most of us can’t. We have to pick and choose a bit more carefully and if the general consensus is that the movie sucks, why would I want to waste my money just to prove them potentially wrong?

      If I’m teetering on the edge of seeing it or not, I will probably be swayed by the critics and then wait and Redbox it in 3 months. So far that strategy hasn’t failed me yet and has in fact SAVED me a ton of otherwise wasted money.

  18. Damn, am I the only one who enjoyed potc: dead mans chest?

    • Nope, I did too.

      • I enjoyed 1 and 2. the 3rd had an excellent screenplay, and wonderful acting, but that’s all. 4 shouldn’t exist.

        But yeah Dead man’s Chest was awesome!

  19. Poorly written characters (he really does see women in the most unflattering, cynical, eye candy way), woeful interaction amongst cast members, the requisite Johnny Depp “wackiness” and a plot that didn’t matter anyway simply because from frame one it is screaming “Franchise! Franchise!” at you.

    A Bruckheimer movie then. The summer was over saturated. Very few of the blockbusters were honest with the delivery of what they promised (save for ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Furious 6′) and if you saw them all they just started to resemble a cut and paste job of each other. No one does the cut and paste “better” than Bruckheimer.

    The audiences can take only so much of the same. The success of ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Now You See Me’, two handsome but predictable movies, highlights this better than anything.

  20. Davy jones was really the best thing for me with the potc franchise, he was awesome IMO.

  21. None of those excuses are legitimate. Shame on them for using b.s. excuses.

  22. They should start with the un like-ability of Arnie Hammer. His acting just comes across as obnoxious.

  23. GET THE PHYSICS RIGHT. For crying out loud. Can’t anyone understand that? This is a post-modern age, horse poo doesn’t cut it anymore. We’re all aware we are watching a movie.

    Bruckheimer and Verbinksi sound like escapees from the lunatic asylum. Let me help clue them into reality: it’s very hard to be entertained by extravagant movie violence when it’s happening to people you know in real life. Can those two millionaires appreciate that sentiment or what.

  24. My lack of interest in this movie had nothing to do with the critics, it came from the fact the movie just looked incredibly dull from the trailers.

  25. I think they’re just butt hurt that nobody wants to see Johnny Depp rehash Jack Sparrow. The movie looked too much like Cowboys of the Caribbean.

    • Seriously, I haven’t seen the movie, but the marketing made it look like a combination of all the tired tropes Hollywood blockbusters have been running into the ground for the past seven years or so:

      Remake of an old pop-culture phenomenon with a recognizable name? Check.

      Darker, grittier, moresplosions? check.

      Johnny Depp acting drunk with a weird hat? check.

      And the Lone Ranger just isn’t an enticing enough brand to make me want to sit through another big budget explosion-fest.

  26. Maybe they should consider the possibility that the film just wasn’t that good or the concept just wasn’t appealing.

    Transformers & Fast and Furious beat the critics everytime as they know what to sel to the audience and make sure they get it on the screen.

    LOL If the critics had that much power,90% of summer blockbusters would all fail at the box office, trust me.

  27. This kind of excuse works sometimes for Comedy films, who unfortunately get slammed a lot because critics don’t have a strong sense of humor and can’t grasp what most of the movies are about.

    Not for this, however.

  28. “When a badly-reviewed movie performs well in theaters, Hollywood laughs off film critics as powerless and ridiculous wastes of time, out of touch with the preferences of mainstream America… But when a movie bombs at the box office, who takes the blame? Why, it’s the press! The critics viciously assaulted the talent and didn’t give it a fighting chance. They had it in for the film from the start. Jealous, malicious, whatever. This, of course, is bollocks.” – Film critic Christopher Null