With The Lone Ranger underperforming at the box office this weekend (it made just over $29 million with a budget north of $200 million) there’s lots of Monday-morning quarterbacking happening in the film community. Disney gambled big on the dynamic duo of Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, and it looks like the studio came up short (it’s too early to say for sure – the movie could be a hit overseas). We suspect there are a few execs at the House of Mouse this morning who wish they’d stuck to their guns when they wanted to kill the project not too long ago.
That’s beside the point, though, because hindsight is always 20/20. Maybe this movie would have worked better with a different script or a different leading man, or without Johnny Depp running around pretending to be a Native American with a dead bird on his head. Maybe it was just doomed because most mainstream audiences don’t remember and don’t care about the Lone Ranger anymore. Or maybe it’s just a character that’s better suited for the small screen.
Of all the options listed above, it’s the last one that’s most intriguing. I remember watching old Lone Ranger episodes growing up, and the idea of bringing the character back to the small screen might have been a great way for a new generation to get acquainted with the franchise before blowing $200 million on a movie. The most interesting part of all? It was an idea in the early stages of development.
Comic artist Keron Grant has revealed some of his concept art for a Lone Ranger TV series that he was working on alongside Afro Samurai producer Eric Calderon. It looks pretty sweet (and different), but the movie basically kept it from getting off the ground. Grant explains what happened:
“These are images I developed a few years ago with producer Eric Calderon for a proposed TV show. The Hollywood guys saw these images, liked where we were going, took over and decided to make a movie.”
It’s interesting to note that the Lone Ranger doesn’t actually look like the traditional character in the concept art. There’s no mask and a fedora replaces the cowboy hat. That would have surely upset some purists, but maybe it would have worked to the project’s benefit. As a character, the Lone Ranger seems rather quaint in today’s world, where antiheroes are all the rage.
It’s impossible to say if this take on the character would have worked since we don’t know enough about what Grant and Calderon were planning, but the concept art is definitely cool. Would you have been more interested in a small-screen Lone Ranger revival or do you believe Disney had to go big-budget tentpole with this title?