Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Lone Ranger" May Ride Again - or - Why Everything Sucks: Exhibit A

Disney's proposed movie retooling of "The Lone Ranger" - a movie that nobody asked for, in a genre that doesn't make money, whose two most-recent comparative cousins (Green Hornet and Cowboys & Aliens) both bombed spectacularly, being reworked in such a fashion as to alienate the dwindling fanbase that none the less compromises the ONLY people likely to give a shit, so troubled as a production as to have become an industry-wide laughingstock - is apparently close to getting a second lease on life, according to Deadline.

Why? Mainly because the good citizens of Earth just handed Disney another boatload of cash to watch Johnny Depp mug his way through a shitty fourth "Pirates" movie, also a little bit because (supposedly) Depp actually wants to bring some kind of mystic/main-character version of Tonto to the big screen.

But I'd say it's ALSO probably because Disney's non-animated/non-Pixar tentpole slate isn't in spectacular shape right now. It's hard to notice because nobody spins bad news like The Mouse; but the fact is Disney doesn't have an all-but garaunteed blockbuster on the schedule other than "The Avengers" this coming May. Their other "big" projects - "Oz: The Great and Powerful" and "John Carter" - are both HUGE question-marks at this point: "Oz" has James Franco, not himself a proven boxoffice draw, in an "origin-story" for the Wizard of Oz being directed by Sam Raimi, who's had some difficulty getting back on his feet after getting sucker-punched off the "Spider-Man" franchise... the only place up to this point where he's been able to back up his considerable fanboy street-cred with serious boxoffice. "John Carter," meanwhile, is supposedly seriously overbudget ($250 Million officially, said to be waaaaay more than that unofficially) had a trailer that interested pre-aware fans but confused the crap out of everyone else; capped off by a reception at D23 that was largely described as underwhelming-to-disasterous by the very web-press most eager to get a look at it.

That's two potential big-budget duds in the offing, and it'll be doubly-humiliating for The Mouse if "Avengers" is the only project that makes money - since it was already in planning/production before Marvel was part of Team Mickey, the narrative will be that while the subdivisions (Marvel and Pixar) are hitmakers "Disney proper" doesn't know what it's doing. Incidentally; "Oz," "Carter" and "Ranger" all "belong" to the same producer team; Rich Ross and Sean Bailey. Thus, however much of an expensive mess "Lone Ranger's" production might already be, the aforementioned knowledge that audiences evidently cannot get enough of Johnny Depp galavanting through bloated CGI setpieces is hard to ignore from a financial standpoint.

Incidentally, how likely do you suppose it is that someone at The Mouse has already floated the idea of trying to fit Depp into "Tron 3" as some kind of waaaaaaaacky program?

15 comments:

Fett101 said...

a movie that nobody asked for, in a genre that doesn't make money,

Isn't that what they said about pirate movies?

Arturo said...

Is John Carter REALLY getting that much flack?
:(

Elessar said...

The problem with Oz: The Great and the Powerful, right up front, is that it reads WAY too close to Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. A prequel story about a minor character from The Wizard of Oz? Yeah, Wicked, and that's a comparison you're going to lose, because both the book and the musical are incredibly well known and liked.

And I'm sorry, but who honestly knows about John Carter of Mars who isn't deeeeeeep into sci-fi? It makes Dune or Stranger in a Strange Land look mainstream.

Euler d'Moogle said...

My late father loved The Lone Ranger and watched on TV and listened to it on the radio when he was a kid. I'm betting that the Disney execs in question would be around my father's age were he alive and like him assume that if they like it then we'll like it too.

BTW, I also like The Lone Ranger, but I have no faith in Disney pulling it off.

The Offender said...

Bob, everything sucks because people are doing "their best". People do no good, they only do "their best, which more often then not is shit. It is the sad truth of our time, and every time really.

David said...

Alright Bob, you just hit 'em (whoever "em" are) with Exhibit A.

Exhibit B: Here is an article (one of many that say the same thing) about Disney's live-action movie-making strategy.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118041020

I had a few friends at Siggraph that sat in shock while this went on and can vouch for the story's authenticity. Reason one why NOT to work in Disney creative.

Mads said...

@ David

Yup. The world sucks - but I think it's a horrible observation that it's all about the spectacle. Marvels films have certainly had spectacle, but they've had story too. They've had a broader continuity.

And clearly, story really, really helps.

Steven said...

Green Hornet made $227,817,248 on a Production Budget of $120 million.

That's a box office bomb now?

Just Gavin said...

@Steven

Wouldn't say it was a bomb but it was unprofitable when you consider the cinema's distributing would have taken about 45% of that revenue.

That brings it to 124,850 (ish) which taking into account advertising costs countered with DVD sales bla bla bla means it was probably a breaker even, not what studio's want from big budget event movies.

Aiddon said...

Johnny Depp, selling his dignity ever since he discovered Jack Sparrow who stopped being amusing two films ago. Seriously, I'm getting REALLY tired of his "eccentric" schtick.

Joe said...

@Euler d'Moogle

Maybe that's the ticket. Disney should rework Lone Ranger as a lower budget ($40-80 million) action flick with the Ranger and Tonto as "ready for retirement" shitkickers, who have to ride out one more time. Go for the same demographic who lapped up Red.

David said...

@Joe, I agree. 3:10 To Yuma was done on a shoe-string budget and most westerns work better this way. Given the obvious name recognition this would be the perfect chance to take a risk. Though, this won't happen because 1.)it's Disney and 2.)John Carter is not bringing much faith in the big risk taking.

Phildog said...

I'm just surprised they haven't made an animated TV series that takes place after Tron 2. Isn't that what usually happens with blockbusters that are kid-inclusive? Godzilla. MIB. Transformers. Iron Man. X-Men. Beetlejuice. Starwars.

Lee Kalba said...

From the article David linked,
"The high-revenue DVD era between VHS and streaming is looking like the aberration."

Are they that out of touch? Of course it was a fucking aberration. Just like with CD, there was a spike in sales because people were replacing older movies with the a better format.
Why hasn't that translated to Blue Ray? Because people just replaced their VHS with DVD and they don't want to spend another $30 on the Blue Ray version. DVD only caught on ten years ago, it's a bit soon to ask us to completely replace out library.
Hell, it was only like five years ago Star Wars came out on DVD, now he's trying to shove the Blue Ray at us.
And now they're trying to throw new gimmicks at us, like this 3D garbage.
"Hendrickson showed a chart of the top 12 all-time domestic grossers, and noted every one is a spectacle film."
Yeah, because Star Wars and ET don't have stories...
Of course, when you think about Transformers, he has a point.

CraftyAndy said...

what is wrong with people? A movie that involves a man going to mars, fighting against aliens with medeval weaponry and all this other interesting (at least visually) aspects. I guess it's just WAY too imaginative for people they want to see more "realistic" movies like Final Destination and Fast and Furious right fuck!