‘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. the movie was good and critics do play part on persuading people wether to watch or not,,they did this to mos as well…but praised im3 a crap fest

    • IM3 was not a crap fest! It was a average film, just like MOS was nothing specail or great, just a good film.

      • And that’s exactly the problem, Blue Marvel dude, the hype surrounding these temtpole releases is os far beyond any proportionality that when they’re released and turn out to be merely good but certainly not great (and that’s usually because of studio inteference on sticking to tired and worn formulae) the critics and public revolt and the film in question takes a decidedly sharp downward turn on subsequent weeks of release!

        If studios would invest in talent and great original ideas that push the right buttons without being manufactured and cynical rehashes of what has gone before, studios would be stunned at the box-office returns… look at ‘The Matrix’ in 1999 or ‘Inception’ in 2010.

        With the exception of the next ‘Hobbit’ film, there’s not a single big tentpole release this year I’m looking forward to seeing – not one – and when the film that I’m personally looking forward the most on seeing this year is a restored re-release of a film made back in 1977 – William Friedkin’s spellbinding masterpiece ‘Sorcerer’ – that tells you all you need to know about much I’ve lost interest in most big films these days!

        And where was everybody when ‘Cloud Atlas’ was released? One of the most original, challenging, engaging, and daring big-budget releases of late and it played to the sound of chirping crickets… for shame!

        • +10000 for mentioning that Cloud Atlas is underrated.

    • I do agree with you that IM3 got more praise than I think it deserved. The Ironman movies started out fairly decent than they turned into vanity vehicles for RDJ. Did anyone notice that not a single IM3 poster upon release actually had him wearing his helmet, yeah his helmet had to be off and his face had to be showing in every poster, they did the same thing for him in the Avengers. I don’t get that, how conceited can somebody get? But MOS gets all this hate because of a few crappy lines of dialogue and because it’s not Christopher Reeves. Whatever, I know which critics opinions I can rely on and which to steer clear of.

  2. I can see why a movie with a native american character called “tonto” has no success among spanish speaking population.

    (If you don´t know what I mean check the word in a dictionary)

  3. I watched it in spite of the critics. I loved all 4 Pirates movies. I thought Hammer was fun in the Snow white movie and dramatic in Social Network. Gore Verbinski has fun with movies. So why would I NOT love this film?

    YO BRUCKHEIMER! THE LONE RANGER IS A REBOOT!! It is not “original”. Don’t think of it as that at all. You called this original like Barry Sonnenfeld called Wild Wild West original in 1999. It’s not original.

    The film is too long, drags for more than half the film, and wastes another appearance by William Fincter as a villain (See Dark Knight, Armageddon, and Drive Angry).

    • Armie Hammer wasn’t in the Snow White movies…that was Chris Hemsworth.

  4. Critics do play a role, but expecting this film to be worth big blockbuster money was probably never realistic anyway. It was a hard sell. And yes, it being a blockbuster was implied by the huge budget, and also the people involved.

  5. Do Critics truly have that much say over what people pay to see? Do people have such weak minds, they will believe and follow any rules for them?

    The Lone Ranger bombed because, even Depp’s most hardcore fans stayed away.

    or, they do not want to see Pirates of the West.

    • There are some people that see damn near every single movie that comes out. Some see very few. Others see ones that pique their interests, but that might be only once every few months if that.

      I think most people would fall into the ‘once in a while’ category when it comes to seeing a film. Usually, reviews are looked up. Probably the most damning pre-release reception is when a film isn’t screened for critics at all. This is especially true for families – the parents might look online for reviews of all the latest ‘suitable’ films and see that The Lone Ranger was nothing compared to Despicable Me 2.

  6. I haven’t seen it yet, but talking to some REAL people I know; they liked it. Not Oscar worthy, but definitely enjoyable. People need to stop expecting the second coming of Christ when watching a movie (a summer type blockbuster at that).

    Critics CAN & should be blamed. I blame them for MoS negative reviews as they wanted something else & instead of “reviewing” MoS, they “reviewed” (in their little minds) what they thought Superman SHOULD BE by unfairly comparing it to the OUTDATED 1978/1980 crap. Thankfully, that negativity didn’t affect the film from doing well enough to warrant a sequel.

    “Pacific Rim” got mostly positive reviews & didn’t do that well at all. And one of the reasons for that is because EVERYONE wanted it to be a Transformers Killer (LMAO at that. NEVER gonna happen!! At least not from the likes of del Toro). Ahhhh, the Michael Bay hate wagon chugs on, but I digress.

    I agree with Mr. Hammer on one thing – so called professional critics are sad individuals. What pathetic lives they must lead that the only thing that gives them value is bashing a movie they wouldn’t have liked anyway. All for the sake of SEEMING like they know what they’re talking about because they are being “critical”. What a load of Bull.

    I have NEVER let someone’s supposedly professional “review” of something determine for me if I’ll like it or not. I don’t even use “reviews” as gauges. If something interests me, I’ll check it out. Pereiod! Have I ever been wrong about a movie? Certainly, but in most cases; movies I didn’t like; critics loved, so make of that what you will.

    • *Period!*

  7. Maybe they should make a better movie eh?

  8. It’s easier to blame the professional Movie Critics, yet the Movie going public usually has the last word; and that that last word was Sucked. Let’s actually give it three words: Sucked Big Time.

    • Too many that that. Bad typing fingers – bad.

  9. I saw this movie and it was horrible. Johnny Depp wasn’t all that good and is probably a good thing he is about to retire. Armie Hammer was equally as bad if not worse. The critics had nothing to do with it. It was the bad word of mouth. People who saw it said it was bad and the few people who liked it didn’t think it was worth the price of admission

  10. I loved this movie. The critics sometimes like to be harsh just so they can keep up their reputation. I for one enjoy movies as long as they are entertaining. 4/5 stars from me.

    • Only bad critics do that.

      Genuine and reputable movie critics will say when a movie is good or bad and give reasons why.

  11. They can’t blame American critics at all because that once again smacks of US-centric egotism when critics and viewers around the world who saw the movie also panned it.

    Add to that the fact that American audiences don’t care if a movie gets terrible reviews and will go see that same poorly received movie anyway (Grown Ups 2 anyone?) then the comments just make them all seem defensive and trying to justify something instead of sweeping it under the carpet (although with the movie out in the UK this week, no wonder they’re being defensive to try and get money from us).

    They should have taken the Batman & Robin route and just said “yep, we made a bad movie, we’re working on some features to add to the home release version for those who enjoyed it but if you didn’t then we’re sorry.”

  12. “Critics CAN & should be blamed.”
    I can’t think of a single time a ‘critic’ or review of a movie has moved me to see or not to see a movie. You are giving critics too much credit. If people are not willing to make decisions on their own, but instead have to be told what to see, that’s their problem, not the critics. Similar to Oprah’s book club – those idiots couldn’t pick up a book and read it themselves in the late 90’s, they had to be told by Oprah what to read. Oprah’s fault? No. Idiot sheep unable to think for themselves? Yes.
    Despite that, I really don’t think critics have much sway or influence over the American public anymore. Especially the 30 and under crowd.

  13. Yawn.

    Maybe my mom or dad would like to see johnny depp do another white face in the lone ranger but I was born in 68, and no way would i even watch this on a rental. The original series was way too outdated to even watch the reruns (i tried a few times as a kid and it was pretty lame).

    Perhaps in 20 years when Im bald and wearing depends ill watch this because i wont know any better.

  14. Critics do play a roll and its hard to please them when it comes to action movies.

  15. Nobody in Hollywood will ever take the blame for a movie’s failure, but they have no problem taking all the credit for a movie that does well.

  16. Tonto say… take money, split, make one dark western and one kids western. Make twice much money, but same runtime.

  17. I can’t blame the critics or actors. In the end it comes down to what the director keeps in the film, pacing, soundtrack, humor level, etc…..
    The story seemed to have a side story with the boy that came to see the aged statue of an Indian but it never went anywhere.
    Depp, who had a serious mistake to correct in getting his tribe killed, played it way too campy at times.
    The 1812 overture was played too long and came off campy used in that scene. A better use would have been someone in town whistling it so that at least it was in there somewhere but not overpowering.
    It had some serious story, graphics, and emotions written in but was often played campy.
    It had no soul and I wouldn’t blame anyone but the director.
    But this is typical of Hollywood. The studio gives money but no one oversees it step by step but the director.
    It is the same of new cars, designed in studios without public feedback, in that inevitably a turd will be produced simply due to playing the percentages.

    • Most actors I have seen interviewed state that they don’t watch their own movies. I believe Depp has said this in the past.
      How can you defend it if you never see it?

      • From my recollection this movie came about because Depp wanted to make it and he wanted to play Tonto and Disney said yes, yes, $$$.
        With his over the top acting it was clearly going to be a Tonto movie unless they found someone to match his level or cut him out of a lot of screen time.. Of course when you are the A star it is hard to bring in someone to outdo your performance and ill advised.
        What resulted is an ill advised movie.
        It’s similar to Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. You have to give him little screen time because he is an A level over the top actor who will steal the show.

  18. The critics blew up Grown ups 2 .. and people still watched it over Pacific Rim .. That I cannot get over

    • yeah but they do that with every sandler movie. and hes one of the best comedians in the history of SNL.

  19. Yea, the hate wasn’t deserved! I will admit, the film isn’t perfect, It is very long and needless-ly complicated, but it still had some great action, awesome set pieces and good acting (Even if the characters can be a little mean-sprited sometimes) I still had fun watching it and I feel that the critic’s hate for this movie was not demanded.

  20. I thought the film was good, but it was billed as a family film from Disney and the first half was far to dark to be kid friendly, it switched tones and became playful and silly for the last 30 minutes but so much of the film was very dark. My wife and I enjoyed it, but don’t think it was billed correctly. I disagree with the critics who just called Johnny Depp’s Tonto another variation of Jack Sparrow it was a unique character and more subtle and unique in tone. I though William Fitchner did a good job as a villain very dark and nearly didn’t recognize him.

  21. I didn’t see the movie because the ads looked terrible and Johnny Depp doing a whole Red Face thing with a damn dead bird on his head just made it look stupid. That’s why the movie tanked. Because it looked dumb. Critics give bad reviews to movies that make money all the time. This one just looked stupid from the get go and not stupid in the fun way.

  22. Uh-heh,.. NO!..
    Critics aren’t to blame for how much you SUCK,
    you did that all on your own.
    they just pointed out the notion oh how much you sucked,
    it’s not their fault you weren’t good at making a movie.
    and I’d barely qualify it as a movie, you made a freakin’ Remake.
    you basically drew in a color by numbers, but were stupid enough to color outside the lines of where the colors were supposed to go.
    like I said, it’s not their fault that you suck,
    that’s all on you…

  23. Im already envisioning the hate for Batman vs. Superman (or whatever it’s going to be called) from the same so-called critics who slammed MOS. Whoever the new Batman is going to be he’s going to suck because it’s not Christian Bale, Zach Snyder made Sucker Punch so I hate it already, more mind numbing special effects that don’t look real to me, and Cavil still isn’t Christopher Reeves. I can see it now.

  24. I was hoping for A good movie and I liked the idea of making Tonto smarter and clever. But at the same time did they have to make the Lone Ranger A total nitwit. All the way through the movie it was ranger mess up sidekick fix problem. Oh well here’s hoping for another try for A good movie.

  25. I’m pretty certain that it bombed because:

    1) It sucks.
    2) The Lone Ranger hasn’t been popular since the 1950s. Seriously, this generation of young people have probably never even heard of the Lone Ranger.
    3) Ridiculous shots just for the sake of 3D (eg. crap flying in your face for no reason)
    4) Armie who?
    5) Depp over exposure (is no one else sick of this guy playing the same quicky character?)

  26. hell the movie sucked, it had its moments but overall wasn’t worth the money.

  27. I was one of the people who debated not seeing this film because of bad reviews. I ended up going to see it after it had been in theaters for a few weeks because I couldn’t resist. I was very pleasantly surprised by the film. There was character development, humor in the right places and a fair amount of action.
    Nowadays I feel like critics are unjustly hard on movies, characters and filmmakers. If they have a better way of doing things or better ideas about movies then by all means lets hear them, but personally I thought the lack of aliens and vampires was a nice change. I don’t think action scenes and good special effects make a good movie. It’s interesting characters, whit and well thought out story lines all put together cleanly that makes a good film. The Lone Ranger had really good elements and characters that were able to bring the viewer into another world that held their attention and didn’t put them to sleep with the same blood and guts of some action films and the boring beaten down love stories of others.
    All in all Critics, maybe you should take a hint from the old western film and step back in time a bit to when a good movie wasn’t about CG and go back to the basics of good stories and old fashion heros.

  28. I want to see it just because it seems like a such a stinker from the trailers.