The Lone Ranger has dodged bullets and foiled bandits, evaded arrows and leapt from the path of runaway trains.
But now, it appears, he has been gunned down with extreme prejudice by a cowardly posse of pencil-necked film critics – at least according to the Hollywood actor Johnny Depp.
Smarting from the box office failure of The Lone Ranger, Depp suggests that the movie's performance was hobbled by unfair expectations and bad reviews, many of which were drafted before its US opening last month. "I think the reviews were written seven to eight months before we released the film," Depp claimed. "[The critics] had expectations that it must be a blockbuster. I don't have any expectations of that. I never do."
The Lone Ranger stars Armie Hammer as the resolute Texas lawman and Depp as Tonto, his Comanche spirit guide. Budgeted at $225m, the film suffered a tortuous production process and met with largely scathing reviews on its release in the US. Industry experts predict that the Disney picture may end up losing $150m.
Producers Jerry Bruckheimer and others in the film supported Depp's complaints: "I think they were reviewing the budget, not reviewing the movie," Bruckheimer told Yahoo UK and Ireland. "It's unfortunate, because the movie is a terrific movie, it's a great epic film, it has a lot of humour. It's one of those movies that whatever the critics missed in it this time, they'll review it in a few years and see that they made a mistake."
Hammer, Depp's co-star in the film, claimed critics were "gunning" for The Lone Ranger long before it was released. "They decided to slit the jugular of our movie," he said.
Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer's interpretation is unlikely to find much support within the critical community. Peter Travers, film critic at Rolling Stone, offered a simpler explanation: "Why is The Lone Ranger such a huge flop at the box office?" he asked. "Because the movie sucks, that's why."
The Lone Ranger opens in the UK on Friday.
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