Lone Ranger stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer waited until they hit the UK press circuit to explain why the expensive Disney tent pole flopped big time at the summer box office. “This is the deal with American critics,” said Armie Hammer speaking to Yahoo UK/Ireland. “They’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time. I think that’s probably when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews.” Hammer minced the fewest words of all the Lone Ranger gang throwing jabs at film critics he said “[jumped] on the bandwagon” and “[tried] to slit the jugular of our film.”
Depp toed the same company line, blaming an imaginary American film critics vendetta for why the Gore Verbinski-directed, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Western reimagining failed over the 4th of July weekend and cost Disney an estimated $190M loss just a year after its $200M John Carter write-down. “I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore [Verbinski] and Jerry [Bruckheimer] and I were going to do The Lone Ranger,” said Depp. “To round it out as a big group, the American press, the journalists or whatever – yeah, I think the reviews were written 7, 8 months probably before we ever released the film.”
Depp’s own “review” of the big budget flop? “I think Gore [Verbinski] made a very brave film because it’s got a kind of absurdist independent feel to it,” he said, grasping for words. “Incredible special effects and action. I think he’s made a very brave film.”
For his part director Verbinski went as far as to suggest the film, adapted from the iconic Western property produced for radio, books, TV, comics, and movies over the course of 80 years, was original compared to the usual Hollywood big budget blockbusters and superhero pics and therefore “counterprogramming”: “Our movie is not a sequel and it doesn’t have giant robots, and the Lone Ranger can’t fly. So I think we’re counterprogramming. If you want to see something different, come see the movie. It’s odd to be given a lashing because of that.”
Critics fixated unfairly on the production’s budgetary woes, said producer Bruckheimer who suggested critics are out of touch with the moviegoing public. “I think that they were reviewing the budget and not reviewing the movie,” he said. “The audience doesn’t care what the budget is. They pay the same amount to see the movie whether it costs a dollar or $20 million. I don’t think that matters.” And yet more blame gaming: “It’s one of those movies where whatever critics missed it this time or re-review it in a few years, they’ll see that they made a mistake. The critics keep crying for original movies, you make one and they don’t like it. So what can I tell you?”
At least the press had poor reviews and lackluster box office returns as ammo in their toolbox. Hammer reduced himself to lobbing insults at the American critical corps, which critics have taken none too lightly. “It’s gone to an unfortunate place with American critics where if you’re not as smart as Plato, you’re stupid,” said Hammer. “That seems like a very sad way to have to live your life.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.