Disney may be wishing they could find a lost silver mine to help make-up some of the losses the film is likely to experience based on its disappointing first weekend at the box-office.
With a reported price tag of $225 million, Ranger barely took in $50 million domestically in its five days of release. Many analysts predicted the film would make around $100 million over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, leading to a $100 million write-off for Disney. But with the dismal box-office showing this weekend, some predict that the loss could be close to $150 million.
Given its poor opening and stiff July competition, box office experts now calculate that Lone Ranger will reach only $125 million domestically, if that. Overseas, it may earn $150 million for a worldwide total of $275 million. In 2011, Disney was forced to take a $200 million write-down when the ill-fated John Carter — costing more than $250 million to produce — topped out at $282 million worldwide. (Disney should fare a bit better on Lone Ranger because it will do better domestically than John Carter‘s $73 million, and the studio receives a higher percentage of revenue from domestic theaters than it does from international theaters.)
“It’s very disappointing,” said Disney executive vp worldwide distribution Dave Hollis. “Everything was perfect on paper, so today was incredibly frustrating.”
Despite Depp’s international star status, Lone Ranger hasn’t fared well overseas, where Westerns are an especially challenged genre. The film grossed a tepid $24.3 million from 24 markets for a lackluster worldwide opening of $73.2 million, trounced by Universal’s Despicable Me 2. Lone Ranger took in $6.6 million in Russia, well behind the $16.5 million opening of Disney’s ill-fated 2012 tentpole John Carter, and only $3.2 million in Australia, on par with John Carter.
Depp’s big-budget films have done huge business overseas, even those that have underperformed domestically. The Tourist grossed just $67 million in North America in 2010 but took in $211 million internationally. Last May’s Dark Shadows sputtered with $79 million domestic but doubled that total ($166 million) overseas. Lone Ranger could break that winning streak and raise big questions about Depp’s star status.
Lone Ranger fared even worse in South Korea, opening to a dismal $1.6 million in a likely harbinger of how the movie will perform in the rest of Asia (as a way of comparison, World War Z recently grossed north of $6 million in its second weekend in South Korea).
Reuniting the same team behind the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean franchise — Bruckheimer, one of the most successful producers in Hollywood history, Verbinski and Depp — Lone Ranger was intended to launch a new live-action franchise for Disney, even though Westerns are a tricky genre, particularly overseas.
In the film, Depp applies his penchant for playing quirky characters to the role of Tonto, while Hammer plays the Lone Ranger, both characters made first made famous in the radio show.
Disney insiders aren’t trying to sugar coat their disappointment or gloss over the movie’s problems, including a lengthy running time of 149 minutes and withering reviews. It has a 24 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 79 percent for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the first title in that series.
Sources say Lone Ranger could strain relations between Disney and Bruckheimer, who are supposed to reteam on Pirates of the Caribbean 5, set for release on July 7, 2015. Outside of the Pirates films — which have racked up $3.7 billion in global ticket sales — and the successful National Treasurefranchise, several of Bruckheimer’s Disney films have underperformed at the box office, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and G-Force.
Needless to say, any ideas of the film becoming a franchise are probably off the table.