'Lone Ranger' could be box office disappointment for Disney

It will be fireworks for "Despicable Me 2" at the box office this Fourth of July, but "The Lone Ranger" could be a dud.

The animated 3-D sequel will probably collect an impressive $110 million between Tuesday night and Sunday evening, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. The big-budget western, meanwhile, is poised to gross $70 million during that same period. (Walt Disney Studios, which is distributing the film, is predicting a softer debut of roughly $60 million.)

Though that sounds like a lot of money, "The Lone Ranger" cost Disney at least $225 million to produce. If it is to become profitable, the critically panned movie (which has a 21% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) will need to generate exceptionally positive word-of-mouth and do strong business abroad, where westerns have not been traditionally popular.

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-- Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times


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