By the time all is said and done, a financial analyst estimates the Disney's expensive reboot of The Lone Ranger, which opened this weekend to less than $50 million in its first five days, could lose the studio as much as $190 million.
The film cost in the neighborhood of $250 million to make, and when you consider distribution costs, the cut the exhibitors take of the box office and other expenses like promotion, the movie was already expected to lose $113 million before its dismal opening weekend, according to Lazard Capital’s Barton Crockett. Deadline reports that such a loss could "slice three cents a share from his estimated earnings for Disney in the quarter that ends in September."
They quote a rival analyst as projecting the final loss for the film as closer to $100 million, and that while it's a huge hit for Disney to take, it won't have much long-term impact, especially with ESPN doing well right now and the Marvel and Star Wars brands bringing in huge amounts of money over the next few years.
It also doesn't help that a period piece like The Lone Ranger doesn't give the filmmakers or the studio flexibility to generate additional revenue through product placements and other similar tie-ins. Man of Steel, which cost Warner Bros. about $220 million, recouped $160 million or more in such promotional partnerships with Sears, Wal-Mart, Gillette and others. This means that even while the film hasn't had legs quite as strong as some analysts anticipated and Warners probably hoped, it was already headed toward a comfortable profit margin after its opening weekend.
Disney should announce the total "writedown" for The Lone Ranger in the next few weeks.