'Lone Ranger' ambushed at box office, Disney may face loss
By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Lone Ranger," Walt Disney Co's big-budget western starring Johnny Depp, performed below expectations on Wednesday night, raising the possibility that the movie could saddle the media giant with a loss on the film.
The film, which cost an estimated $225 million to produce, generated $9.7 million during Wednesday showings, falling well behind "Despicable Me 2" from Comcast's Universal Pictures, which sold $34.3 million at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates.
Both films opened with limited showings on Tuesday. For the two-day period, "Despicable Me 2" generated $39 million and "The Lone Ranger" saw $11.7 million.
Disney estimates "The Lone Ranger" will sell $45 million for the Wednesday through Sunday July Fourth holiday weekend, below industry experts' initial forecasts of $60 million to $70 million over the five days.
"If it does end up grossing less than $50 million over the five-day stretch, it will most certainly go down as a misfire," said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box office prospects.
The film's poor opening is a black eye for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski and star Depp, the trio behind Disney's ultra-successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.
Disney made their prior success a key part of marketing the current film, and Depp's international appeal still could help the film's overseas box office.
"The Lone Ranger" is an action remake of a 1930s radio show and television series in the 1950s. Armie Hammer plays John Reid, the lawman who dons a mask to fight injustice in the Old West. This time, though, it is the Lone Ranger's Native American sidekick Tonto, played by Depp, who takes center stage. Continued...