'The Lone Ranger' and the Curse of the Blockbuster Western

Photograph by Everett Collection

Will the big-budget cowboy movie ever make a comeback? The dismal, holiday-weekend box-office performance for Disney’s The Lone Ranger certainly isn’t promising. With a budget of $215 million, the Johnny Depp-led extravaganza opened on July 3 and earned about $49 million over five days, a paltry $29 million of that during the Friday-to-Sunday period. The film, which was roundly pummeled by critics, is the latest chapter in Hollywood’s long saga of failing to transform a genre staple from the mid-20th century into a lucrative 21st century box-office draw.

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