Disney may lose up to $190 million on 'The Lone Ranger'

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Disney CFO Jay Rasulo told analysts on an earnings call this afternoon that the company will likely incur a loss of about $160 million to $190 million next quarter as a result of The Lone Ranger‘s weak box office run.

The Gore Verbinski-directed western, which stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, cost at least $215 million to produce but has only earned $175.5 million worldwide (it’s only opened in about 40 percent of international markets) since its release on July 3. Domestically, the film has earned $86.9 million — a larger total than Disney’s 2012 mega-flop John Carter, which topped out at $73.1 million, but an alarmingly low one nonetheless.

The news of the write-down comes one day after Depp and Hammer told Yahoo U.K. that it was critics’ vindictive skewering of the film that caused a weak box office run. “I think the reviews were written 7-8 months before we released the film,” said Depp. Hammer agreed, saying, “[Critics] jumped on the bandwagon to try and bash it. They tried to do the same thing to World War Z. It didn’t work, the movie was successful. Instead they decided to slit the jugular of our movie.”

For Disney, the loss hurts, but it isn’t crippling. The company’s portfolio now includes cash cows like Pixar, Marvel, and the Star Wars empire, the former two of which already delivered massive returns this summer with Iron Man 3 and Monsters University grossing $1.2 billion and $614 million worldwide. And Disney recognizes that its plan to produce fewer movies but make them all tentpoles is a high-risk/high reward business. “This branded tentpole strategy of ours, it’s 100 percent what we’re looking to do and what we want to be,” said Dave Hollis, Disney executive VP of distribution, following The Lone Ranger‘s disappointing opening weekend.


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