The Endangered Lone Ranger

July 7, 2013

It’s clear to see just how strongly Disney believed in the potential of adapting the classic radio and TV show of The Lone Ranger into a box office hit. They stuffed every super-charged resource they had into the action-packed western including a $225 million budget, a tried-and-true Hollywood A-list actor, the ever-bankable Johnny Depp as Tonto, and they procured the proven Pirates of the Caribbean producer and director, Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski–in hopes of recreating the kind of magical success seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Sounds like the definitive recipe for success; kind of like adding butter, sugar, cream, and flour to a dessert recipe…it’s bound to taste good. How could it not?

But over the five-day 4th of July weekend, its box office debut will have brought in about $49 million, approximately $20 million under analysts’ projections. In comparison, Universal and Illuminations  Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2 brought in nearly $90 million over the holiday weekend. Also, The Lone Ranger could cause a major financial blow to Disney in the long run because westerns rarely play strongly in oversea markets.

Disney’s head of distribution, Dave Hollis told TheWrap Sunday, “The frustrating part for us is that we had all the ingredients here. You take a classic franchise, team the world’s most successful producer, an award-winning director and the biggest movie star in the world and you think your chances of success are pretty good. But we just didn’t make it work.”

While executives, critics, and bloggers can voice their opinions about why the film missed the mark, this is just another Hollywood tale reminding us that no one holds the answers to the ever-elusive movie magic we all treasure. No budget, no star, no proven director or producer holds the key. Indeed, that magic can strike in micro-budgeted films or mega-budgeted ones. The trick is, as an actor, to not allow the white noise of “This is going to be huge!” or “This is going to bomb!” influence your efforts or your performance. While no one knows which movie will succeed or fail in the public arena, an actor needs to approach each project with keen focus on his or her performance. While a flopped film is certainly a humbling experience, it can sharpen one’s sense of responsibility, and illuminate the challenge you face each time you step in front of the camera. And it is an inspired and profound performance that can turn a box-office dud into a huge success in a heartbeat. That is where an actor’s power lies.