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Surprise! Disney Tallies 'Lone Ranger' Losses, Could Be As High as $190 Million

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 7, 2013 at 2:00PM

Disney will take a $160 to $190 million write-off for box office disappointment "The Lone Ranger," according to the studio's third quarter fiscal earnings call. (Watch a video below of stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer blaming the film's failure on critical reaction.)
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"The Lone Ranger"
"The Lone Ranger"

Disney will take a $160 to $190 million write-off for box office disappointment "The Lone Ranger," according to the studio's third quarter fiscal earnings call. 

The film has so far earned $176 million worldwide, with an $87 million domestic haul. It cost more than $215 million to produce--likely way more.

Steven Spielberg is shaping up as a Hollywood Cassandra, as he prophesied an industry implosion of big-budget losses. Sure enough, at least five would-be tentpoles have tanked, including Sony's "After Earth," "White House Down," Universal's "R.I.P.D," DreamWorks' "Turbo," and particularly Disney's "Ranger" as examples of studios over-swamping the market with high-pricetag films, and paying the piper for it. While Warner Bros./Legendary's "Pacific Rim" seems to be pulling out of the red via healthy ticket sales in Asia, this past weekend Sony's "Smurfs" sequel did not open well. 

Disney chief Bob Iger said in the call to analysts that the studio "still believes in a tentpole strategy," and that "the way to rise above the din and the competition is a big film -- a big film, a big cast and big marketing behind it.” He cited juggernaut "Iron Man 3" as an example of this strategy working. But that win should not have paid for the other loss. 

"Lone Ranger" star Johnny Depp recently made news for blaming film critics for the failure of the film, saying "I think the reviews were probably written when they heard that Gore and Jerry and I were going to do [the film.]" Armie Hammer agreed, saying critics have "been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time." (Watch below.)

But as NY Times critic A.O. Scott pointed out over Twitter, it's not negative critical reaction that sinks a film: "Studios go to great pains to engineer critic-proof movies."

And as we've pointed out, "The Lone Ranger" failed for other reasons, its lack of commerciality being the main one. With rare exceptions, Westerns don't play overseas. Plus, the property isn't well-known -- or known at all -- to young audiences. If the film needed critics, it should have been made at a much lower price point.

This article is related to: News, Disney , The Lone Ranger, News, Box Office


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.