Monday Morning Quarterback Part II

By BOP Staff

July 10, 2013

Winning looks painful.

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Kim Hollis: Disney's The Lone Ranger crashed and burned hard this weekend, earning just $29.2 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $48.7 million over five days. What went wrong here?

Jay Barney: I guess Lone Ranger is the other end of the spectrum. If Despicable Me 2 was better by a third, Lone Ranger disappointed in the other direction. First impressions mean a lot, and when I originally saw the trailer a few months back I was turned off. The over-the-top action was enough to make me groan, and apparently a lot of other people thought the same way. Let me be clear, I do not think this is a rejection of westerns, as I think that is an under-tapped genre in the movie industry. Done right, westerns can do quite well (True Grit). Like White House Down last week, this is a dismissal of pointless stories with a needless emphasis on explosions and overdone conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional smash’em up flick as much as the other guy, but two weeks of “stupid action” failures brings a bit of a grin to my face.


Brett Ballard-Beach: I am of two frames of mind here. One is that it is performing eerily similarly to both Wild Wild West and Cowboys and Aliens, which suggests that there is a ceiling for offbeat westerns whether they lean towards the sci-fi hybrid side of things or as a mashup of crowd-pleasing Bruckheimerness and somber reflection on the white man's genocide of Native Americans. The other is that this represents the worst-case scenario for attempting to jump-start a decades-old brand name that just doesn't have a place in today's world (on a much larger scale, this is about as disastrous as the last attempt 1981's nearly forgotten until last week The Legend of the Lone Ranger). As two asides, I would add 1) That it is not a good tactical decision (revisionist story aside) to have your hero's sidekick played by one of the world's biggest movie stars, and the titular hero... to not be played by one of the world's biggest movie stars. 2) I saw no trailers for this and so am simply floating off the reviews I read over the last week, but it also seems that there is an extreme level of violence in this film for something that bears the Disney imprimatur, and some of the critics reflected that they were surprised this got away with a PG-13. That word-of-mouth, if it was reflected in parents talking to parents, probably is responsible for this throwing under even the lowball expectations Disney threw out at the start of the week. I was almost consigning myself to thinking no more of this until one of the critics I place weight on gave one of the minority positive reviews and said that much like Spielberg's 1941, this is a sugary blockbuster with a bitter aftertaste that may need a couple of decades to get its due. I am a little more intrigued.

Edwin Davies: This seemed tired in two distinct ways. On the one hand, it was attempting to revive a character most people stopped caring about decades ago (and the overwhelming majority of the target audience have no experience of) without really trying to make him seem that interesting. On the other, the presence of Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer suggests that they were trying to recreate the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, which was wrong-headed because the success of the first Pirates movie was a real lightning in a bottle moment, but also because audiences have soured on that franchise. The connection to Pirates doesn't have quite the potency that it might have had four or five years ago, so leaning so heavily on it in the marketing probably didn't do much to sell people on the movie. In addition, the ads themselves were a bit muddled, with some advertising the dark revenge aspect of the plot and others emphasizing the comedy and action. Then you throw in the fact that Armie Hammer is not a name by any stretch of the imagination and that people have grown a little weary of Johnny Depp being wacky in blockbusters, not to mention the very tricky notion of Depp playing a Native American, and I think you have a film that wound up alienating a lot of people before anyone had even had a chance to see it. The concept seemed shaky, the marketing was disjointed, and there wasn't much appeal in the cast. Throw in the bad reviews and you've got a perfect storm.

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