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After 'Lone Ranger,' Disney may not be willing to take risks

After 'Lone Ranger,' Disney may not be willing to take risks
Johnny Depp is Tonto in "The Lone Ranger." (Disney)

As Walt Disney Studio's "The Lone Ranger" limps off into the sunset after a bruising box-office encounter with the minions of "Despicable Me 2," it could be years before the studio gambles on a character unfamiliar to young moviegoers.

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.

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Though it is hardly the first expensive star-driven film to bomb this moviegoing season — Will Smith's "After Earth" and Channing Tatum's "White House Down" both preceded it down that path — the Johnny Depp western offers a cautionary tale about what happens when costs rise as an audience's interest wanes.

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