A month and a half ago, an article came out where Steven Spielberg talked about the “implosion” of Hollywood.
Spielberg and Lucas expect consumers to watch more content, including movies and TV shows, on giant screens at home, as the separation between TV and film content disappears and theatrical releases are limited to fewer, big-budget films.
“There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budgeted movies go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm again,” Spielberg said. [CNBC]
Spielberg’s prediction came true in the case of The Lone Ranger which Wikipedia lists as second in Hollywood’s biggest box office bombs. The only film that lost more money was Sahara. Unfortunately for my family, we spent money to watch both disasters. There’s not much that I remember about Sahara (it’s that forgettable) but The Lone Ranger was a pretty recent affair.
What was wrong with The Lone Ranger? Not Johnny Depp who was his usual funny self. Not the rest of the cast either which was top notch. Technical aspects of the film then? No. The costumes were great, the locations were breathtaking and the stunts weren’t bad either. Hans Zimmer’s modern take on the William Tell Overture which has become so identified with The Lone Ranger was great. The problem was the story which there was just too little of. And that little story was stretched to two-and-a-half hours. You can imagine how tedious it got.
The thing about mega-budget films is how the producers seem to equate audience attendance with the amount of visual effects. It’s probably not an unreasonable assumption considering that Hollywood’s all-time top-grossers are big-budget films replete with state-of-the-art computer visuals and larger-than-life characters. Avatar, Titanic, The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon top the list.
But in an age where drop-dead gorgeous visuals have become the norm, a film has to have more than the norm to make it a cut above the rest. The generation thing might explain why The Avengers and Transformers, both of which had thin story lines too, still raked in millions. The current generation of moviegoers are well-acquainted with the characters in both films. But The Lone Ranger? Heck, even I wasn’t born yet when it was a TV series.
But more than that… I have this innate resistance to The Lone Ranger in much the same way as The Green Hornet. Not that the two films are equal by cinematic standards. Hell, no. The Green Hornet was really, really bad (read the post). But, still, you know, this thing about a white hero with an ethnic sidekick… The stereotyping is just too blatant. Again, it may be a generation thing. Both The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet were born as characters in radio serials in the 1930s and Hollywood stereotyping, although still very much alive today, was more than ten times worse at the time. But to keep reiterating the stereotypes with remakes… well, maybe that’s why I enjoyed watching the Zorro movies more.