The best thing that can be said about Disney spending $200+ million on the 2013 movie The Lone Ranger -- not including another $100 million or so in marketing / distribution costs -- is that the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, Gore Verbinski-directed comic Western starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer didn't cost $250 million like the studio's 2012 box office bomb John Carter. (Update: The Lone Ranger weekend box-office: A bigger flop than originally thought?)
Currently with a dismal 11 percent approval rating and 4.2/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, The Lone Ranger collected an abysmal -- in relation to its exorbitant costs -- $9.65 million on opening day, Wednesday, July 3, at 3,904 North American locations, in addition to another $9.85 million on the July 4 holiday according to Box Office Mojo. The Lone Ranger's two-day total is $19.5 million, which will, according to early, rough Friday estimates found at Deadline.com, add an extra $13 million today.
If Deadline's early Friday estimates are on target, that means The Lone Ranger will have grossed about $32 million after three days, and, barring a major Saturday surge, somewhere around $50 million in its first five days out. Sounds bad? It gets worse when you realize that the blow 'em-up crowd will be flocking to Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim next weekend and, possibly, to Dean Parisot's Red 2 the following weekend.
Not to mention the critical fact that Westerns are notorious underperformers outside the United States (and possibly Canada), e.g., Harrison Ford / Daniel Craig's Cowboys & Aliens' $74.58 million internationally (vs. $100.24 million in North America), and Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit's $79.88 million (vs. $171.24 million domestically). A major exception to the anti-Western rule: Quentin Tarantino's quasi-Western Django Unchained, featuring major international box office draw Leonardo DiCaprio, which collected $261.17 million internationally (vs. $162.8 million domestically).
Johnny Depp to save The Lone Ranger at international box office?
The Lone Ranger's only hope of becoming an international box office hit is if Disney focuses the film's marketing on explosions and Johnny Depp, who remains a top box office draw around the world. Whereas Tim Burton's Dark Shadows bombed in North America, with $79.72 million, it was a sizable hit elsewhere, collecting $165.8 million. Co-starring Penélope Cruz, Rob Marshall's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the weakest domestic performer among the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, collecting $241.07 million; yet, internationally it earned an astounding $802.8 million. Even Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's widely lambasted The Tourist, co-starring Angelina Jolie, raked in $210.71 million internationally after scoring a paltry $67.63 million in North America.
As an aside, directed by Gore Verbinski and featuring Johnny Depp's voice (at least on English-language soundtracks), the animated Western Rango earned $123.47 million in the U.S. and Canada and a slightly more modest $121.89 million internationally. Disney must be ardently praying that The Lone Ranger will perform much closer to Django than to Rango.
We'll find out in the next couple of days how The Lone Ranger is performing at the international box office, as the Johnny Depp Western has opened in about a couple of dozen territories this week.
Despicable Me 2 box office
Of note, Universal's Despicable Me 2 brought in an estimated $58.8 million from 3,957 theaters on Wednesday and Thursday, and may reach $135-140 million by Sunday evening if Deadline's early Friday estimates are on target. The weekend's no. 3 movie should be Sandra Bullock / Melissa McCarthy's The Heat, which earned approximately $11.5 million on Wed/Thu -- and was up 21 percent on the 4th.
Also of note, Monsters University will undoubtedly cross the $200 million mark at the domestic box office today. Its cume up to Thursday was $196.53 million.
Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer topline The Lone Ranger cast
Besides Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer in the title role, The Lone Ranger features William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter (one of Depp's co-stars in Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Dark Shadows), James Badge Dale, Bryant Prince, Barry Pepper, Mason Elston Cook, JD Cullum, Saginaw Grant, Harry Treadaway, James Frain, Damon Herriman, Gil Birmingham, Damon Carney, and Stephen Root. Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio are credited for the film's screenplay.
Despicable Me 2 voice cast
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, the Despicable Me 2 voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Steve Carell, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Elsie Kate Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias, Nasim Pedrad, Kristen Schaal, and Coffin and Renaud.
The Lone Ranger photo featuring Johnny Depp as Tonto, Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger: Walt Disney Studios.