Actor Johnny Depp, in an interview, has blamed much of the less than monumental ticket sales for his Lone Ranger film on bad reviews from film critics. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/aug/06/johnny-depp-blames-lone-ranger-critics
However, while critics can have devastating effects on live theatre productions, history has shown they have little effect on the movie going public. Word of mouth and hype normally are the driving factors in a film's success or failure...at least initially.
There was ample pre release hype for the Lone Ranger. So why didn't it live up to expectations? Those were the problems, unrealistic expectations from the actors and more importantly, the studio bosses.
There have been six Lone Ranger films since 1938 and just about as many radio and television series. I grew up with the masked man, literally. The most noted incarnation of the character Clayton Moore was my next door neighbour in Los Angeles.
The main problem for the latest version is that it's old hat in an age of superheroes. The Lone Ranger and "his faithful Indian companion Tonto," are from another age when it was okay to be a mortal hero. Today the ranger is just a cowboy with a mask. He can't leap tall buildings in a single bound or bend steel in his bare hands.
True Superman was also a creation of the Depression era, but that was in an age before computer generated images became normal fare for the kids of the day. Besides, the great Depression was gloomy enough. Heroes had to be upbeat..not seen on the cinema screen being beaten.
Today's film heroes have got be superhuman doing unreal and even outrageous feats to save the world. The Lone Ranger's sight is far more local, such as saving someone's ranch or a Native American's land.
I watched Man of Steel the other day and while impressed with the CGI action scenes, I noticed there was absolutely no humour to the plot, let alone some glaring absurdities that have long been part of the Superman story. Yet, the audiences apparently loved its gloom and doom storyline, as they did with the recent Batman trilogy.
And Batman offers a good example of changing images with changing times. The popular 1960s Batman TV series was as colourful and lighthearted as the times...a big joke not to be taken seriously. Then in the 90s Batman films became colourful big budget productions, but still with enough humour to generate a chuckle or two, dulling the considerable violence.
Then with the Batman trilogy beginning in 2005, a gloomy and even darker Batman appeared with virtually no humour, just special effects, violence and the repeated sight of Batman getting the worst of it during much of the films.
Even Henry Cavill, the new Superman, doesn't do to well against General Zod as they battle on Earth and in space.
Given all this, it's rather easy to see why a simple man with a mask, even with movie gimmickry, is out of his depth in the new world of superheroes.