I don’t get it. I really thought The Lone Ranger would be a big hit. Apparently, so did Disney. Instead, they got a huge flop, and they have no idea why. The usual reasons have been given: Johnny Depp’s star is waning, big Westerns don’t sell, like last year’s Disney flop, John Carter, the source material was too old and disconnected, etc. I think all the arguments are valid.
I think this is important to note that while a lof of blame is placed on the fact that Westerns don’t sell, The Lone Ranger did not look like a Western. It looked like an action film masquerading as a Western, much like Pirates of the Caribbean was an action film masquerading as a swashbuckler film. For some reason, people ate up Pirates and rejected Lone Ranger. Maybe it’s because the Lone Ranger felt tired, almost like a Pirates knockoff.
I think that might be the problem. For me personally, I was excited about seeing The Lone Ranger. It looked like another fun summer popcorn flick. But I have not seen it yet. It wasn’t a priority. I made a point to see Iron Man 3, Star Trek, and Man of Steel either at midnight or the next day. For some reason, something about Ranger wasn’t enough to get me out of the house this past weekend. Subconsciously, I think I looked at it as “Pirates of the Caribbean in the Old West,” and it felt like something I had seen before. We’re about to get Pirates movie number five. I don’t need another franchise like Pirates. Maybe that’s the real reason.
What’s sad is that this flop will be used as yet another excuse to keep the lid on the Western’s coffin. I hate it that because studios think Westerns won’t sell, so they feel they have to dress Westerns up using some other genre (a la Cowboys and Aliens or The Wild Wild West) to make them sell. And then makes them even less attractive than if they had just made a decent Western. You rarely get a pure Western anymore. Gone are the days of John Wayne and John Ford. I hate it, because I love Westerns. What happened to the Western? The argument sociologists and critics use is to blame Nixon and Vietnam. We lost faith in our heroes. If that’s the case, then how come superhero movies seem to be doing so well? Maybe we no longer believe in the frontier, or we no longer believe that it takes complicated people to tame the frontier. Admittedly, I have not researched this subject extensively enough to make a good argument.
Interestingly enough, the same weekend we got a shocking disappointment, Despicable Me 2 provided us with a shocking surprise. If you had told me DM2 would put up insane, Toy Story 3 numbers, I would not have believed you. It’s very interesting, and very exciting.
What does it all mean? I have no idea. What does William Goldman say about Hollywood? Nobody knows anything. If I knew the formula that could have told me Lone Ranger was going to flop and Despicable Me was going to be a mega-hit, I’d be rich.
Oh well, go see both movies.
Photo credit: from nerdist.com