As Walt Disney Studio's
The new take on the masked lawman and his sidekick Tonto, which cost Disney more than $225 million to produce, brought in just $48.7 million at the box office over the five-day holiday weekend and could result in a write-down of $100-$190 million for the studio, according to analysts.
Though it is hardly the first expensive star-driven film to bomb this moviegoing season —
As with other studios, Disney's failure is likely to reinforce its resolve to double down on less risky sequels and lower its spending on original live-action films.
"They will think not twice, but maybe five times, before they do another $225-million picture," said longtime entertainment industry analyst Harold Vogel of Vogel Capital Management. "This is going to make it a lot tougher for any other budding auteur to come in and say, 'I want to do this $225-million extravaganza.' It's not going to happen any time soon at Disney."
Disney declined to comment for this story. But in interviews Monday, Hollywood veterans privately said they see the movie, which was widely panned by critics, as having far-reaching implications for many of its principals.
The flop, which comes a year after a similar debacle with the sci-fi epic
Many of the upcoming big-budget movies on the company's slate — including
There are a few notable exceptions to the safe formula. For example, next summer's big-budget "Maleficent," starring
"Lone Ranger" was put into production by former studio chief Rich Ross, who was ousted following the "John Carter " bomb after less than three years on the job. He was succeeded by former
Indeed, the studio has several original films planned for release in the coming 18 months, including the fact-based Walt Disney story "Saving Mr. Banks" starring
Simply greenlighting sequels, while appealing to Wall Street investors and analysts, does not fuel franchises down the road, or, in the case of Disney, yield new theme park attractions.
Disney held such hopes for "The Lone Ranger," whose weak theatrical performance could strain producer
"Domestically, Mr. Bruckheimer's pictures, outside of his 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies, have not been blockbusters," said box-office analyst Brandon Gray. "I don't know if it's fair to say a person's taste is out of sync with the public, but I would argue the choices made here have not been the most universally appealing ones."
A spokesman for Bruckheimer declined to comment.
The studio seems to be strengthening its ties to another prominent producer, Joe Roth, who not only was behind the hits
The "Lone Ranger's" stumble also thrusts
"The Lone Ranger" faced high hurdles as a western — a genre that is a tough sell for modern moviegoers. Only eight westerns have cracked the $100-million threshold in the U.S., including "Dances With Wolves,"
"A western appeals to a more male-dominated audience," said Dergarabedian.
Disney will still look to foreign territories to help cushion the blow on "Lone Ranger," though global audiences are generally cool to the genre, noted Dergarabedian.
A Disney spokesman previously confirmed that "The Lone Ranger" would be shown in China, but said a release date has not been set.
Shaoyi Sun, professor of film at Shanghai University's School of Film-Television, said in an email that Chinese audiences have supported homegrown westerns such as the 1991 Mandarin-language hit "Swordsman in Double-Flag Town," but the Hollywood genre remains less familiar.
"Many of them know of John Wayne," Sun said, "but it is hard to say there is an enthusiastic audience base in China for westerns."
Times staff writer Daniel Miller contributed to this report.