‘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. Excuses excuses . The movie sucked big time. Tonto looked like Shaka Zulu.

    • Agreed. The failure of this movie had nothing to do with critics. The problems with this movie included:

      1)Marketing – The first few trailers made it look like a Tim Burton movie, and that’s simply not the right style for a Lone Ranger movie. It wasn’t until the third trailer that it started looking like a Pirates style movie, and by then I think a lot of people lost interest.

      2)Tone – A lot of younger people don’t really know or care about the Lone Ranger anymore, so you need to attract the Lone Ranger’s base first and foremost. However, as with the 80s movies that flopped even harder, the Lone Ranger (much like Superman, even moreso) doesn’t kill so even hinting that the Lone Ranger might kill is going to turn much of that older base away before it even starts.

      3) Arnie Hammer isn’t a big enough star to sell Lone Ranger, and with all the other problems, placing Depp in a supporting role isn’t going to push the movie. What they should have done is titled it The Legend of Tonto, made Tonto the main character, and used his star power to bring the Lone Ranger back into popular culture before doing a Lone Ranger movie. I know about a dozen people who have no intentions of seeing the movie who said if they’d done it that way, they’d probably have gone to see it.

    • not funny …try again

    • “Shaka Zulu” (*snort*):
      Gonna guffaw in 3–2–1–!!!

  2. Sorry but the trailer made this movie look awful!! Its not movie reviewers making this movie bad, its the script, cast, crew etc. World War Z was a fantastic movie, cant believe they panned it so much!!

    • They still have to sell this turkey in other markets, they know they are full of crap.

      Why don’t they release a sure bomb worldwide at the same time? You might trick enough people into seeing it internationally. Not if its been languishing in dud hell for two months in the states.

      • With you on that, or alternatively 2 days early in the USA and pay critics to talk it up worldwide before you guys can actually release any honest reviews to us in Europe (Britain for me :) ). I’ve heard The Wolverine is not that great but the trailer at least looked good so I’m going to watch it tonight, Lone Ranger, I won’t even watch this when its on Sky Movies for free.

  3. I went in with the impression this was going to be a fun, family film. After the scene where the guy eats a heart, I left….c’mon….did that really have to be in a Lone Ranger movie?

  4. I watched the movie and it sucked big time! wasted 18 dollars for nothing!

  5. It was actually a pretty fun movie!

  6. The movie wasn’t THAT bad, it won’t make my top 10 list at the end of the year but I don’t regret watching it. The main thing that ticked me off was the run time. Why did it have to go over two hours?
    It certainly doesn’t deserve the RT critics score.

  7. It’s actually sad that many true-blooded Native Americans do not get decent parts in movies. I mean, let’s think realistically about this. Disney needed a top movie star for the part of Tonto, someone who was going to pull down the bills. I’m sorry, but I don’t think actors like Wes Studi, Benjamin Bratt, or Lou Diamond Phillips were at the top of their list, nor do they have name recognition like Depp. It’s a shame, because I think Studi is a great actor, who has played Native American characters in the past.

  8. It flopped because it was a crap ass movie, i didn’t want to see Tanto, featuring the lone ranger. And hate how overrated Depp has become.

  9. I never care what critics say. I make my own dicisions. I’m not a sheep. I didn’t see the movie, bc I don’t live in 1933. Westerns arent my thing.

    • “I didn’t see the movie, bc I don’t live in 1933. Westerns arent my thing.”

      Well, the “wild west” died out completely a decade or so before 1933, but damn, man, how narrow is your taste in movies? Did you not watch Star Wars because you don’t live in “a galaxy far, far away”? Obviously the LOTR is out because you don’t live in or near a “shire”. Do you move house so you can see more movies? “s***, dude, I GOTTA move to France so I can see TAKEN!!”

      • Didn’t your doctor tell you that it’s unhealthy to take more than the recommended daily amount of sarcasm?

        That’s about a week’s worth of sarcasm right there.

        • +1000 – that was hilarious!

  10. Honestly any movie that shows natives being back stabbed by the government, iraqi’s as victims of imperial criminal invasion or any number of other social commentary is attacked by critics because the media is owned by beneficiaries of oppression. Lone Ranger was a great kids movie, and when it becomes a cult classic with high dvd sales the fudged numbers and hack critics will look like the scum they are.

    • Very good points. I recently watched ‘Day of the Falcon’ and while it was destroyed by critics I thought it was a really good movie despite it’s slow start. Haven’t seen Lone Ranger myself therefore I can’t judge. However I’m still skeptical if only because of the inflated budget and cast/crew. Regardless it’s on my queue.

  11. I think the truth is actually a bit complicated. I don’t think it flopped because of the critics were “gunning for it!” BUT that does not mean the critics weren’t gunning for it. Movie criticism is a completely subjective pastime. I think that now that studios are investing millions in movies it has become a bit of a sport to tear those movies down. I saw Lone Ranger and while I did not like it, the person I was with DID like it. I think a 27% Rotten Tomatoes score is too low and probably includes a number of critics that were not looking at the movie fairly. But if critics are the reason a high budget movie fails, then why do we keep getting Transformer movies which have ONLY gotten “Rotten” ratings. It bombed because it did not take the subject matter seriously, cost too much and the overexposure of Johnny Depp playing essentially the same character caught up to them. But instead of learning from this they are making excuses which probably means we will get another one.

    • “It bombed because it did not take the subject matter seriously.”

      This is the exact reason I’m not interested in seeing it, even via DVD. I’m tired of campy westerns–give me real dramas like “Appaloosa”, “Open Range”, or “3:10 to Yuma”. Had they made it with Depp playing Tonto with dignity and respect to Native American culture, I would have been there the first weekend. But knowing it was going to include a quasi-comic Captain Sparrow treatment completely turned me off.

      • It was weird because at times it seemed like the movie was trying to take it to a serious tone then moments later they revert to comedy. The Lone Ranger’s brother was killed and his heart taken out. But at no point does the Lone Ranger cry or do anything that shows any kind of great sorrow. At another point the native Americans are massacred yet Tonto does not ever seem like that is traumatic. The ENTIRE movie was that way.

        • @Patrick:

          I agree.

          It was inconsistent in tone.

  12. Sins against the great Spirit of the West are not forgiven.
    The failure of The Lone Ranger was an act of God.

  13. As a film student myself and hearing countless stories from my film professors at SCAD, I would have somewhat half agree with the cast a filmmakers statements. And here is why; you must remember that the film industry is a business. There are a lot of politics that goes on underneath the scenes when making big budget films. Some studios will literally pay movie critics to write bad reviews in hoping people wont go see a particular movie. It happens allll the time. And you can bet it’s going to happen with Star Wars 7 and the Avengers sequel; X-men; Dawn of the Planet of The Apes, and soo on. I’m not saying these movies will flop but you can bet some critics will write off these movies way before it hits theaters.

  14. Uhh…. The movie was okay, but really aggravated me was during the big action finale set piece, the theme music went on and on and on…..
    Talk about repetitive….. It went on for at least 10 minutes…..
    Love the theme tune, but this was too much……….

  15. I am one of the few who liked the Lone Ranger, the kids were okay with it except for some parts, but that was the same with the Pirates movies.

    Then again, I’m a Lone Ranger fan so any iteration of him is good for me (even went back and watched The Legend of the Lone Ranger, weird to see Doc Brown as the villain).

    So many choices this summer so I think people who were on the fence were swayed away by the genre and bad word of mouth.

    My big nitpick, the Lone Ranger was a wimp. I don’t mind the over the top Depp Tonto, but give the Ranger some bravado… bleh.

  16. Personally, this movie was decent, not great or really even good. It had its moments for sure, but enough to make up for a film that’s about as long as The Dark Knight. What really did this film in for me was that they tried to take a property that not many people are familiar with (I had the fortune of watching a lot of the original show through my grandparents) and make it appeal to everyone. As a result, the movie suffered an identity crisis. It didn’t know if it should be campy, an action movie, comedy etc. There also wasn’t enough substance to justify making it AS LONG AS THE DARK KNIGHT. I caertainly wouldn’t pin that on the critics.

  17. Or maybe, and bear with me guys because this is pretty crazy, the movie just sucked. BAMM! Mind blown

  18. Personally I feel a big part of the blame should fall on Johnny Depp and his 21st century black-face.

  19. I’m sorry. A bad movie is simply a bad movie. Blaming critics is a waste of time. The audience judged this movie, and they found it lacking. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly. There was so much wrong with this movie it would take much longer to detail the problems than watching the movie itself (which was also too long). Sorry, guys. When you strike out, you don’t blame the audience in the stands or the commentators in the booth.

  20. Damn you critics…
    Critics did it to Dredd, to Man Of Steel, to Pacific Rim and now Lone Ranger as well…Then again, why would anyone hear or believe the critics is beyond me but still…
    The pen is mightier than the sword, indeed.

    • I hope this comment is sarcasm, since both Dredd and Pacific Rim were actually pretty critically acclaimed (both are over 70% on Rotten Tomatoes) so the critics had nothing to do with their poor sales – and Man of Steel made a ton of money, so I don’t think the critics had anything to do with that “failing” either.
      The ONLY movie you mentioned that’s relevant to the argument is Lone Ranger, which I personally decided not to see because the previews looked like crap, not because of critics.

      …so ultimately, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

  21. They are in Nth degree denial.

  22. What made me not want to see it was that it was a Disney film. Not really down for a western made by Disney.

  23. Not surprised to read this, but I am angry. These studios will always look for something to blame if their movie flops, instead of just recognizing that maybe their movie simply wasn’t all that good. I can see certain points from both sides though.

    1) As far as “judging the movie before you see it,” this can be a problem, yes, and even critics are guilty of it too. I’ll admit, I saw all the trailers to The Lone Ranger before it came out, and going off that I already have the judgment in my mind that the movie was going to suck, because…well, it looked like it was going to suck. And so that’s why I didn’t go see it. But then who does the blame lie on for me not contributing my dollars to their movie? Is it me for pre-judging it, or is them for not making a product that looks quality enough to actually go see in theaters? I’d say it’s the latter, and studios need to understand that the movie industry, especially the summer blockbuster season, is a competitive market. And if you’re not as good as the competition, then I’m sorry, you can’t expect to not flop.

    2) As far as the budget goes, I don’t see why that would be reason to judge it harshly. This simply isn’t the kind of money that you dump a ton of money into. This wouldn’t have flopped so bad if they went for a smaller-scale budget, because they were banking entirely on Johnny Depp name recognition alone to sell it. This is the same kind of problem that the game industry faces too, too many companies pumping loads of money into a product, to the point where they have unrealistic expectations of how much it needs to make back to get any profit. And then getting upset when their unrealistic expectations aren’t met.

    3) Where do they get off calling this movie original? I’m sorry, but my definition of originality is not reviving an old TV show and making a movie adaptation out of it. A movie which, as this article says, copies other western-type movies. So then how is this an original/different movie in their eyes? What, because they got a white guy to play the Native American character?

  24. An Original Movie is a movie that’s original, not an adaptation that’s been beaten to death with a hammer, knife, or saw.

  25. I think that a lot of people are tired of Johnny Depp Jack Sparrow act being thinly veiled as other characters. Pirates was great but Johnny its time to move on.

  26. I think these four are sags of s*** for defending this train-wreck. F*** you Jerry, F*** you Gore, F*** you Johnny and a big F*** you Arnie!

  27. I didn’t see it. It’s just not my cup of tea but it at least looked entertaining based on what I saw in the trailers.

  28. I will reserve judgment on the movie itself until I’m actually able to see it, but all the overpaid people involved in this flop (thusfar) are pointing the fingers elsewhere????? Shhhhhhhhhhhhhocking, just amazing that they wouldn’t take responsibility for THEIR work. It’s very obviously the critics fault this didn’t put butts in seats. Never has a movie received poor reviews yet still produce giant turnouts upon opening(*cough* x-men origins *cough*). The most efficient renewable resource for these movies will be denial. Nevermind, I’m not going to see the latest reinvention of this twice before reheated turd, I’ve talked myself out of it during this diatribe. They want to blame others for their failures, I’ll watch honey boo boo if I want that.

  29. I didn’t need to read a review to be turned off by this movie, the trailer did enough. The two main things I thought were: a) Do I really want to see Johnny Depp playing another “quirky cooky” character in a Disney movie and b) Armie Hammer seems rather bland and vanilla in the leading the role. On a side note I don’t think the movie has appealing aesthetic look that would appeal to youngsters. I’m not saying all kids want is a brightly coloured movie, however I can see kids being put off by its drab, grey and dusty appearance. Which might convey it being more of dramatic authentic period peace rather than a family oriented actioner.