Sunday, July 21, 2024

“Lone Ranger” Financial Disaster: Will Disney Heads Roll Again?


“The Lone Ranger” will not even hit $50 mil for its five day holiday release, from Wednesday-through-Sunday. With costs at around $250 million, it looks like the Gore Verbinski-Johnny Depp collaboration will cause another complete write down– a la “John Carter” from two years ago.

When that movie tanked, the fallout was painful. Disney had major layoffs, some of which are still reverberating. Studio head Rich Ross was ousted, and replaced by Warner Bros.’ amiable and smart Alan Horn.

The question is: so now what?

Horn is not going anywhere. “The Lone Ranger” was already in process when he arrived.  If you recall, the film was abruptly cancelled by Disney on August 12, 2011 because they said the budget was too big. But remember– they were dealing with Depp and Verbinski, who give them the still thriving “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Two months later, in October 2011, “Lone Ranger” was back in the saddle. Looking at it now, it’s unclear what they cut from that budget. The movie is a bloated mess.

Disney has always had problems with live action movies. They lucked out with “The Help” a couple of years ago. But otherwise, it’s slow going. Their heyday of Bette Midler comedies like “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”  becomes more and more a distant memory.

The studio gets two more shots this year. “Frozen” is animated and like “Monsters University” should have no problems. But in live action it’s all down to “Saving Mr. Banks” with Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney himself. “Mr. Banks” is set for Christmas with Oscar aspirations. By December, though, “The Lone Ranger” failure will be reverberating in the Disney back offices– and hopefully not with more pink slips.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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