Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Memo to Disney: Get a Clue!

Consider this something of a follow-up to the previous post. After taking a $200 million write-down on John Carter, Disney is now preparing to take a write-down of roughly the same amount on The Lone Ranger, as reported here.

So what went wrong this time? Well, unlike John Carter--a good film done in by a disastrous marketing campaign by a group of executives who either had no faith in the material or were simply more invested in other projects--the Disney story of the masked man of the plains is simply poorly done. (Apologies to my friends Bob and Howie who seem to love it.) All indications are that Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney just had no idea who the Ranger is or how to handle such a classic hero.

Full disclosure: I have not seen this film; from the trailers, I decided I had no interest in seeing it (at least not by paying theater prices for it). My judgments here are based on the trailers, on reviews, and on word-of-mouth from people I trust.

The Ranger is not Tonto's sidekick, and Tonto is not a Native American version of Jack Sparrow. The Lone Ranger is not an action-comedy buddy movie story on the order of Lethal Weapon. This is not to say the movie can have no sense of humor, no ability to have lighter moments. (See the two Clayton Moore-starring theatrical features for how this can be done.) More importantly, the Lone Ranger does not kill--in fact, the character survived from 1933 to 1957 on radio and television never doing anything more violent than a fistfight or shooting the gun from a bad guy's hand. He certainly doesn't go blowing up train trestles, sending the trains plunging into the canyons below. Did the screenwriter, director and producer not understand the significance of the silver bullets? That life is precious and not to be taken lightly?

Clearly, outside the Marvel franchise--which came to them full-blown and already in steady hands--Disney has no idea how to market a real hero (Carter) or how to make a movie about one (Ranger).

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