Johnny Depp’s latest blockbuster The Lone Ranger has fared poorly in its first two days on release in the US.
The action-western, which cost Disney $250 million to produce, took just $19.5m on Wednesday and Thursday – traditionally a bumper box office frame as Americans enjoy the 4 July holiday.
By comparison, Despicable Me 2 has drummed up $58.8m over the same two-day period. Its worldwide total is already above $130m, meaning it has already recouped its $76m budget.
While The Lone Ranger’s performance could still be saved by its performance overseas – Johnny Depp has strong appeal in both European and Asian markets – there are uncomfortable echoes of Disney’s last box office flop, John Carter.
The Lone Ranger had an original budget of $250m, but concerned bosses insisted last year that director Gore Verbinski needed to keep the figure under $215m.
However, after delays and disruption to shooting and Verbinski’s desire to construct his own period trains rather than refitting existing train cars, its costs ballooned back up to $250m.
The film has had a rough ride in the press, with less-than-stellar reviews from top critics.
Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post said its “mournful scenes of genocide and stolen immigrant labor are tastelessly juxtaposed with silly slapstick humour”.
Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan complained that “Depp plays Tonto in a deadpan Buster Keaton style that is not well-suited to the demands of action and adventure”.
Depp’s previous big-budget collaborations with Disney have yielded box office gold. The last two Pirates of the Caribbean movies both earned more than $1bn, as did Tim Burton’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.