"The Lone Ranger," the Johnny Depp movie that sent reporters scurrying for euphemisms and filmgoers scurrying into other theaters over the holiday weekend, touched off a particularly rousing round of Monday-morning quarterbacking. Should Disney have pressed forward after cost and other production issues nearly shut down the movie in 2011? Was a $200-million-plus budget sensible given the characters' low profile among younger filmgoers?
The second-guessing has been as ubiquitous as "Despicable Me 2's" minions as Hollywood looks back to one of the most underperforming/disappointing/insert-euphemism-here movies of the year.
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So where does all this leave those involved? With the movie grossing just $48.9 million over the five-day holiday weekend, we took a look at six people or entities associated with it, and handicap both what they'll do next and the gradient of the hill ahead.
Gore Verbinski. After four years without a movie, Verbinski had seemed to find his footing in the animated space, as "Rango" became an Oscar winner and a solid if not overwhelming performer with $245 million worldwide in 2011. "Lone Ranger" has been a rocky transition back to live action, and may make a collaboration with frequent partner Johnny Depp harder to get off the ground. So what's next? The helmer has no new go movie. Directors in his position often go small to regain their mojo. Verbinski does have a few projects in the hopper—"Pyongyang," a dark comedy based on a graphic novel that he's attached to — which could fit the bill.
Disney. The good news is the studio has been raking in the coin this year with films such as "Iron Man 3" and "Monsters University." The bad news is that those movies were made by subsidiaries (Marvel and Pixar, respectively). That only partly helps Alan Horn, the veteran studio chief who came in a little over a year ago to turn the ship around. Horn gets something of a pass on "Lone Ranger" since much of its development and production predated him, but the pressure is now on. The company has several big gambles coming up that can aid the comeback -- or sink Disney into a further slump. They include a "Muppets " sequel, an Angelina Jolie-led fairy spin in "Maleficent" and smaller stories like the cross-cultural "Million Dollar Arm."
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Armie Hammer. Though the man who gave us the Winklevi twins in "The Social Network" had a leading role in "Lone Ranger," he's probably affected least by its failure, since no one expected him to carry it in the first place. Still, whether he'll book another top-line part in a studio film any time soon now remains to be seen. Hammer has no go movie either, with his "Man From U.N.C.L.E" reboot in doubt with the recent exit of Tom Cruise.
Jerry Bruckheimer. It hasn't been an especially good few years for the master of the large-canvas action spectacle: Outside of the "Pirates" franchise, he hasn't had a hit in several years. "Prince of Persia," "The Sorcerer's Stone," now this. Bruckheimer always has a big brand or three in the wings. The question will be which one he chooses; clearly if you don't have a superhero or a well established franchise like "Pirates" or "Fast and Furious," it's tough sledding. In the meantime he'll try to find his way with the most reliable of current movie genres: horror. Bruckheimer is shooting the occult-crime pic "Beware The Night" this summer with "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" director Scott Derrickson.
Reboots. Yeah, they're not going away any time soon. But with the latest example of a genre film based on a property young really people don't know (see also: "John Carter") they may slow down just a bit.
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Johnny Depp. Johnny Johnny Johnny; Johnny Johnny Johnny Whoops. One of Hollywood's most interesting actors — and for years its most bankable star — is now officially on a cold streak, with the gloomy results of his "Dark Shadows" last year and now his Tonto turn in '13. But those expecting a ride into the sunset, even temporarily, might be surprised: Depp will be seen in three movies over the next 30 months, first early next year in Wally Pfister's enigmatic "Transcendence," then in 2015 with a fifth "Pirates of the Caribbean" vehicle and an inevitably Deppian sly-but-vulnerable turn as the wolf in the "Into the Woods." Will the actor want to go smaller after that? Will audiences want to see him go big again as Jack Sparrow? Questions about the role that Depp Fatigue played in this weekend's results should be answered in the swing of a captain's sword.
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