Little Johnny, Big Armie
There are worse things than The Lone Ranger. Like, say, Transformers 1-3, conclusive. Or World War Z. WWZ looks terrible because it’s so freaking generic, like someone threw Independence Day, Armageddon and The Walking Dead into a blender and WWZ is the vomitus mass that came out. Or the entire Fast & Furious franchise. Those movies are terrible, and worse, they keep Vin f*cking Diesel employable. That’s offensive on a molecular level.
I had hoped The Lone Ranger would turn out well. Was unwilling, in the beginning, to believe that something decent couldn’t be salvaged from the early headaches stemming from budget concerns and Johnny Depp’s controversial Tonto. After the last trailer release, though, I had to concede that it looks like an illogical pile of train garbage, though I still think this movie is going to make a ton of money. Why? Look no further than the newest trailer just released at CinemaCon.
It’s fast, it’s action-heavy, there are comedic beats, and a decent sampling of Armie Hammer as the hero is, yeah, pretty cool. Depp might be a mess as Tonto (I don’t hate what he’s going for and opinion in Indian Country is divided between “ugh, no one should ever try this character, he’s horrible” and “it’s not so bad, come on guys, we’ve seen way worse”), but Hammer is pulling off the Ranger quite well. This trailer is everything people want to see in a summer movie: fast, funny, sh*t blowing up. That it’s also completely insane is a minor concern, comparatively.
Oh, and it’s not about superheroes. By July 3, when The Lone Ranger has no competition except the hold-over WWZ, audiences will be wrung dry by the combined amazingness of Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel. We’ve seen in previous summers that there is such a thing as too many superheroes, and summer 2013 is front-loaded with them (bad news for The Wolverine, due in late July). By the time Ranger comes out, fatigue will have set in, making it the perfect alternative for people wanting to so see something big and loud (and dumb, in this case) but without the capes.
So the question isn’t “will The Lone Ranger make money” it’s “will The Lone Ranger make ENOUGH money”? The movie cost eleventy jillion dollars to produce—Disney dug a hole halfway to Australia to get this movie made and marketed. So even if it does have a big opening weekend and huge overseas box office and goes on to make $600 million (comparable to the first Pirates of the Caribbean), that’s barely going to be enough for Disney to just break even. But it might be enough to re-establish Depp’s place of grace with general audiences and make Hammer a viable star…although word out of CinemaCon that Depp didn’t want to stand too close to the six-foot-five Hammer for fear of appearing short guarantees this audience will continue mocking and deriding Depp’s mid-life vanity. As we should. Armie Hammer is a giant. EVERYONE looks short next to him.
Ethan Miller /Getty Images, DJDM /WENN