Despite heartthrob Johnny Depp buoying the movie as Tonto, alongside Arnie Hammer as the masked hero and Helena Bonham-Carter playing red, the love interest, Disney expects the movie to lose almost £139 million in spite of the bankable stars.
Costing an estimated £162 million to produce, US box office takings have hit £56 million – but much of that goes to the movie theatres and promotion.
Jay Rasulo, Disney’s chief financial officer told the markets earnings for the second quarter were up from £7.1 billion to £7.4 billion, but net income was stagnating at £1.83 billion.
Disney’s movies dragged down the company’s performance. The Lone Ranger has bombed, while Iron Man 3 has led the way grossing £775 million, but lags last year’s summer blockbuster The Avengers, which set box office records worldwide.
Disney is hoping superheroes from the Marvel comics stable will fly to their rescue after acquiring the company recently.
A lot of hopes rest on the forthcoming S.H.I.E.L.D TV series.
“Everyone wants more great Marvel content,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive.
Another big Disney movie flop was John Carter – a sci-fi non-event from 2012 that lost an estimated £126 million, which The Lone Ranger is on track to overtake.
Waterworld, starring Kevin Costner, sunk without trace, taking down a loss of around £90 million.
Big budget glut
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz showed they are not immune from falling from grace with the public as Knight and Day stayed in a dark place with a loss of £66 million.
Stephen Spielberg’s 1941 was set in a fairground, but was not a lot of fun, with more than £50 million in losses going for a ride.
Arnold Schwarzenegger went full throttle in The Last Action Hero, which strangled a £50 million budget with an almost £60 million loss.
Industry commentators blame a glut of big budget movies for the flop of the Lone Ranger.
“Too many studios are bringing out $100 million plus budget movies and they all have big names competing for the same audience,” said one. “Some will succeed, but the others are bound to fail. We could do with more of an even spread of small, medium and big budget movies rather than everyone going for broke – quite literally.”