New Jack City: ‘The Lone Ranger’ Made How Much?

Tonto-Lone-RangerRight after noon on Sundays the reports come out with the estimated weekend box office results.,,

These numbers are based on actual Friday and Saturday ticket sales and then compared to what similar movies grossed on past Sundays.

These estimates can be surprisingly close to actual figures which are released by Monday afternoon, but don’t garner the attention of those initial weekend estimates.

Nothing amuses me more though than the news break during CBS 60 MINUTES Sundays, which usually consists of three headlines.

Those capsules can be as random as plane crash kills three in San Francisco; wildfires near Colorado Springs engulf 30 homes and THE LONE RANGER opens to $47.5 million.

Why are we so fascinated with movie box office figures?

Are they real or, as some people have questioned or manipulated? Whatever they are you, you don’t hear updates of weekly Ford car sales or Walmart sales. Which I imagine are much larger than movie revenues.

I guess the movie grosses are just sexier.

They also give the studios additional marketing muscle—like proclaiming “The No. 1 movie in America.”

But what really ticks me off is when the talking heads tell us that a particular film HAS MADE so many million dollars over the weekend.

Because it did NOT!

What the movie DID was sell so many million dollars worth of tickets at the box office. But only about 53% to 63% of those ticket sales are returned to the studio that released the picture.

The rest stays with the owners of the theaters playing it.

So back to the example of THE LONE RANGER and its $47.5 million opening.

Disney may see just $27 to $28 million of that.

A common formula in the industry today is that the all-in theatrical gross is usually around three times that of its opening weekend.

So applying this non-scientific formula to THE LONE RANGER would indicate an eventual total north American gross of $142.5 million of which maybe $90 million will flow back to Disney..

That’s bad business especially since the Mouse House reportedly has about $250 million in the production—plus marketing expenses.


And foreign box office performance is not expected to give the man with the white hat (and Tonto) a big lift.

Why not?

Because unlike other big action pictures (which could produce 60% in foreign play compared to 40% from the domestic box office) Westerns just don’t do as well in the world market.

Back to the example.

Say THE LONE RANGER ends up with $142.5 million and another $100 million from foreign playoffs, its total gross of $242.5 million would only return an estimated $138 million in film rentals.

Sure there are the On Demand, Red Box, DVD and Netflix markets to follow. But you can see just how much of a gamble some of these non-sequel, high dollar tentpoles can be for Hollywood.

So it’s no surprise that the trade press is already reporting an anticipated write-off by Disney of $190 million for THE LONE RANGER.

Not a pretty picture.
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10 Responses to New Jack City: ‘The Lone Ranger’ Made How Much?

  1. chuck says:

    “Why are we so fascinated with movie box office figures?

    Are they real or, as some people have questioned or manipulated? Whatever they are you, you don’t hear updates of weekly Ford car sales or Walmart sales. Which I imagine are much larger than movie revenues.”

    The popularity of any given movie can be an indication of the American weltanschauung. All sides wanting to claim victory in The Culture War.

    A movie as vapid and inane as The Lone Ranger losing it’s azz is a serious misstep for Hollywood’s liberal overlords. The worm turns.

    • Super Dave says:

      I have always thought of them as a ploy by Hollywood to get more people in to see a movie. If you score a decent opening weekend figure then the rest who didn’t go to see a certain show might be inclined to based on the opening figures. The again just might be the studios nice way of thumbing their noses at one another when they win for the week.

      • mouse says:

        Because it’s easier for the media (often owned by the same companies that produce the movies) to talk about factual stuff like box office than it is to talk about subjective stuff like quality. It’s turned movies into a horse race where the film with the biggest ad budget often wins no matter how crappy it is, and it keeps indie films or art films, that are probably much better quality, out of the race.

        The whole box office thing is a ruse to keep people going to see movies by the major studios. Box office has never had anything to do with how good or bad a movie is.

    • dreamwriter326 says:

      Wow, intellectual, reasoned contemplation of an interesting topic that pushes the discussion to higher, more sophisticated levels, from both Chuck and SuperD in tendem, with no racist over/undertones or castigation of opposing opinions…. Just wow.

  2. chuck says:

    Hey Jack, Diane Lane is gonna play Hillary Clinton in a 2016 mini series about the Clintons.

    Seriously I ain’t kiddin.

    Ya think Bill will volunteer to play himself?

  3. brother sunday says:

    This is great, Jack! This is over and above your reviews! More like this please! Backgrounds on movies and how much they are spending and bits of info like WorldWarZ having to get everyone and head back out to set for re-shoot… love it! cheers

    • jack p. says:

      I take it you’re not much into my reviews then?
      But thanks for the compliment anyway 🙂

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