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Johnny Depp Movie Made Studio Suffer Crippling $150M Loss as Fans Didn’t Like Him Playing a Native-American

Johnny Depp Movie Made Studio Suffer Crippling $150M Loss as Fans Didn't Like Him Playing a Native-American

The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp, was released in 2013 and was a major financial failure for Disney, costing the company at least $150 million. The film’s $215 million budget was astronomical for a franchise that hadn’t been fresh in people’s minds for so long.

The film’s failure can be traced back to many sources, including the bad press that followed the decision to cast Johnny Depp as a Comanche character, the film’s poor critical and fan reception, and the massive budget.

The Lone Ranger – A Massive Box Office Flop

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp

Since The Lone Ranger was a remake of a classic 1930s western, it aimed to please fans of the original. Despite the property’s obvious importance, the movie was given a massive budget of $215 million. Disney ran into a similar problem in 2012 with John Carter, a film adaptation of an old science fiction series that did not have a large fan base.

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Despite The Lone Ranger’s poor reception, Disney poured much money into the film, hoping that Johnny Depp’s fame would rescue it. The film would fail, though, because of a casting choice that caused much controversy.

Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Tonto, a Native American from the Comanche tribe, was a major source of controversy for the film The Lone Ranger. Many viewers were dismayed by casting a non-Native American actor in the role, seeing it as another instance of Hollywood’s habitual cultural appropriation.

Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger
Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger

Native American groups voiced their disapproval of the film’s casting choice and took to the streets to protest what they saw as the perpetuation of negative stereotypes. As the film’s release date approached, audiences were put off by the negative press surrounding the casting choice of Johnny Depp.


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The studio eventually tried to calm the situation by recognizing Johnny Depp as a Comanche tribal member, but that was met with even more backlash. The Lone Ranger was also met with widespread disapproval from both audiences and reviewers.

Poor Reception from Critics and Fans

Critics have given the film a 30% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while fans have given it a slightly higher 51%. As a result of the film’s underwhelming reception, very few people were satisfied with its final product.

Disney suffered a huge loss due to The Lone Ranger’s poor reception. One of the biggest box office failures of all time, Variety reported that the film lost between $160 and $190 million. The film’s catastrophic failure was due in large part to its enormous budget, as well as to the widespread criticism and poor reception, it received.

Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger
Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger

Because of the lessons learned from The Lone Ranger’s failure, Disney has changed how it approaches rebooting classic franchises. Disney has learned its lesson after the failures of John Carter and The Lone Ranger and is now much more hesitant to invest in outmoded characters who may no longer have the same cultural relevance they once did.

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The studio is now pickier than ever about which properties it invests in, though there have been notable outliers like the critically acclaimed live-action Beauty and the Beast remake. The Lone Ranger is also a cautionary tale about how major studio backing and a hefty budget are no guarantee of box office success.

The movie bombed at the box office despite a huge budget and the presence of Johnny Depp. The film’s failure highlights the significance of considering the cultural relevance of properties before investing in them and listening to fans and cultural critics when making casting decisions.

Source: Variety


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Written by Mabel

Mabel, aka MJ, is a FandomWire Sr. Writer, pop-culture fanatic, and an MA in Health Demography holder. When she's not indulging in her guilty pleasure of penning everything Hollywood, Marvel & DC, she writes academic essays on COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. With 2500+ articles published online, she brings a unique twist to entertainment writing. A jack-of-all-trades, MJ enjoys movies, writes/acts in plays, writes music, and dreams of being a successful actress. She offers a fresh perspective, making her writing a must-read for those seeking knowledge and entertainment.