While only our grandchildren will have the necessary perspective on the noble Lone Ranger’s massacre at the box office—and see this dark chapter of American history as the missed opportunity for wacky Johnny Depp spectacle that it is—the film’s principals aren’t waiting until then to render judgment. They’ve already decided what the problem is: Critics who preemptively rendered judgment, writing reviews “seven to eight months before” the film even came out, and wielding their enormous influence over a moviegoing public that routinely turns to movie critics to decide which expensive summer blockbusters to see. Indeed, it was an insidious, yellow journalism campaign akin to William Hearst sparking the Spanish-American War, except that didn’t even have any super fun train chases.
Once again seeking the more sophisticated, sympathetic counsel of England, the Mr. Belvedere of nations, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski, and stars Depp and Armie Hammer spend the entire three minutes of this Yahoo U.K. interview montage complaining about the brutish American press.
Hammer, to his publicist’s audible distress, says critics “decided to slit the jugular of our movie” the second it was shut down over budgetary concerns. (That they also reported endlessly on the similar woes of World War Z, only to see that film debut to decent reviews and a huge box-office haul, is irrelevant: “It’s got to the point with American critics where if you’re not as smart as Plato, you’re stupid,” Hammer explains, as World War Z is based on Plato’s allegory of the cave filled with zombies.)
Depp adds that critics apparently “had expectations that it must be a blockbuster,” just because Disney gave $225 million to its Pirates Of The Caribbean team to do that again, but in the desert. “I didn’t have any expectations of that. I never do,” adds the man who has said he will keep playing Jack Sparrow for as long as Disney keeps paying him “the stupid money,” and automatically turns down other films for not doing that.
“Our movie is not a sequel, and it doesn’t have giant robots, and the Lone Ranger can’t fly, so I think we’re counterprogramming,” Verbinski, director of three Pirates movies, echoed of his smart alternative to typical summer fare: a movie in which Johnny Depp stars in another adaptation of a retro pop culture franchise, but very artistically doesn’t fly around a big robot.
“Critics keep crying for original movies, you make one and they don’t like it, so what can I tell you,” Bruckheimer concludes of these naysayers who will apparently never be satisfied no matter what old intellectual property Disney puts Johnny Depp and hundreds of millions of dollars into, even though they keep asking for originality.
Unfortunately, as long as critics keep their stranglehold over audiences, holding sway over at least 25 percent of them, maybe, original movies like The Lone Ranger don’t stand a chance. Instead the summer will be ruled by blandly organized-by-committee chum like the $137 million-and-counting grossing Grown Ups 2, which received even worse reviews but let’s not talk about that right now.