per the UK Express:
£141m LONE RANGER follows Pacific Rim as yet another big bucks flop. Is this the end of the movie blockbuster?
Published: Sun, July 21, 2013
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, the event picture grossed just £24million, way off what it needs to break even once marketing costs are taken into consideration and well down on the £43million achieved by World War Z. Or the colossal £114million of Iron Man 3. In the UK it was a flat-out flop with a meek £2.1million. It seems that Steven Spielberg’s prediction of an “implosion” in Hollywood is coming true sooner than even he anticipated: “There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budget movies are going to go crashing to the ground,” he said last month.
That’s just what is happening as audiences reject a succession of bloated blockbusters starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
The Lone Ranger, out in the UK in August (budget: £141million and counting), bombed in its opening weekend in America, earning just £32million over the five-day July 4 holiday.
It is unlikely to earn £66million in total and Disney analysts are predicting a write-down of up to £125million, not far off the £131million hit Disney took on the flop John Carter.
The picture reunited the team behind the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise: Johnny Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, but failed to reach as broad an audience, playing to an older crowd more familiar with the original radio and TV series about the mythic gunslinger and his sidekick Tonto.
It has been troubled since production was suspended in August 2011 by then Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross, as the budget spiralled to £164million.
It was cut to £141million but rose again during production thanks to poor weather and complex action sequences: the filmmakers constructed six miles of railway track in New Mexico for live-action stunt work.
With estimated worldwide marketing costs of £115million it will have to earn an impossible £329million to break even after theatre owners take their percentage.
The Lone Ranger was not the first high profile miss of a crowded summer. Will Smith had a rare flop with his £85million apocalyptic sci-fi adventure After Earth, which has earned just £38million in North America, his lowest grossing film since Ali in 2001.
It was released by Sony Pictures, which suffered another financial headache with White House Down, a £99million action spectacle about a terrorist takeover of the White House.
Starring Channing Tatum as an aspiring secret service agent who saves the day it earned a mere £16million in its opening weekend in America, well down on figures required to break even and much less than the sums achieved by director Roland Emmerich’s other movies including 2012 which debuted to £43million in 2009.
Emmerich agrees that a crisis is looming with studios pursuing an unsustainable model of making fewer movies at inflated costs. Budgets up to £130million are now the norm.
“Steven Spielberg is totally right,” he told the Sunday Express. “When you want to do something small and interesting you have a really tough time trying to get the money together. And when you want to do a $150million or $200million extravaganza you get the money just like that.
“It’s upsetting because I see myself as a filmmaker and I want to alternate interesting films with big films and it’s hard to do.”
He points to the absurdity of director Steven Soderbergh going to a cable TV company to fund his Liberace movie, Behind The Candelabra, despite it starring Michael Douglas and costing only £16million.
“When Steven Soderbergh has to go to HBO to get it done, then you know there’s something wrong,” said Emmerich, “and Steven Spielberg needed 10 years to get Lincoln together and that nearly went to HBO at the last moment. This is Steven Spielberg!”
Joss Whedon shares Emmerich’s exasperation. When the director of last summer’s hugely successful Avengers Assemble wanted to make a micro-budget black-and-white version of Much Ado About Nothing, he funded it himself.
The Lone Ranger bombed in its opening weekend in America
Is the model sustainable? No studio is losing its shirt. Yet. Disney stock remained stable after the weak numbers for The Lone Ranger, in part because of Iron Man 3 (over £790million worldwide) and Pixar’s Monsters University. It also now owns the Star Wars franchise, to be re-launched in 2015.
Balance sheets have long been bucked up by international grosses, with markets like China and Japan expanding at two and a half times the pace of America.
Even so, the foreign box office is down 13 per cent on last year. This might reflect a cooling toward 3D, but the pressure is on foreigners to save Pacific Rim for backers Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.
Meanwhile, Universal is braced for its first flop of the summer this weekend with sci-fi comedy R.I.P.D. starring Ryan Reynolds. The £85million picture is “looking like the third big-budget box office flop in a row after The Lone Ranger and last weekend’s Pacific Rim,” reports trade bible Variety.
What’s worrying is that all these turkeys were all based on original ideas. However bad they may be, no one wants Hollywood to abandon its originality. Or what’s left of it.