The Lone Ranger has the box office appeal of Johnny Depp, but that may not be enough to guarantee a turnout that justifies Disney sinking $200 million into Gore Verbinski’s western. Last year, Dark Shadows demonstrated that pairing Depp with a name director and old brand name doesn’t guarantee audience interest; although Lone Ranger is easily more mainstream than Shadows, an uneven mix of quirk and pop action in the trailers weakens that built-in appeal factor.

That’s all to say: it will be interesting to see how Disney sells Lone Ranger with its Super Bowl XLVII trailer, in order to reel in a larger audience. In the meantime, we have a teaser from that commercial, along with a new poster featuring both Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid; as opposed to, the first poster (with naught but Depp’s eyes).

Here is the official synopsis for Lone Ranger:

Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

The cast includes Helena Bonham Carter (Les Misérables), Tom Wilkinson (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Ruth Wilson (Anna Karenina), Barry Pepper (Broken City), James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3) and William Fichtner (Elysium). Story and screenwriting duties were handled by Pirates of the Caribbean 1-4 duo Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, in collaboration with Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road).


lone ranger poster 570x844 Lone Ranger Super Bowl Teaser: Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer Seek Justice

So far, Disney’s marketing Lone Ranger as big-budget entertainment overflowing with spectacle and thrills, plus a dash of humor to keep things fun (in other words, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Western Version”). If you’ve been following our pre-release coverage, you’re probably aware Ranger is shaping up closer to Verbinski’s Oscar-winning Rango than the swashbuckler throwback feel of the original Pirates installment.

In other words: the Mouse House seems to be using a bait-and-switch approach to hyping this project. That may be the smartest move from a business standpoint, to assure the studio recoups all its expenditures (given the odd nature of Depp and Verbinski’s new blockbuster beast, that is).

The Lone Ranger opens in U.S. theaters on July 3rd, 2013.

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