Home Movies “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.

Author
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is 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.
4 replies to this post
  1. Heads should role among the production and marketing leadership. Sean Bailey, Ricky Strauss and Asad Ayaz are directly responsible for this fiasco. The film production was mismanaged and the release was bungled by an incompetent marketing and distribution strategy.

  2. Frankly I’m surprised considering the terrible movies people like these days. However, putting Depp in as Taunto then promoting the movie with only Depp…lol. Not surprised.

  3. The problem is the bloated budgets of these movies. Sometimes I watch then and wonder, where did the $200Mil go? You can’t blame the actors for their salaries, maybe it’s all the producers attached to the movie?

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