During a Tuesday conference call with analysts about its third-quarter earnings, Disney's entertainment unit revealed that the company expects to take a loss of $160 million to $190 million (all figures US) in its fiscal fourth quarter, because the huge promotional campaign for the updated western — starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer — failed to draw the expected moviegoing audience.
The Lone Ranger itself cost a reported $250 million (all figures US) to produce, with that budget spanning the salaries of Depp and Hammer, mega producer Jerry Bruckheimer and blockbuster director Gore Verbinski, as well as the cost of the film's explosive special effects and dangerous stunts.
The studio also purportedly spent more than $100 million for the massive marketing campaign promoting the remake, as well to produce the actual film prints that screened worldwide.
So far, the movie has generated just $175.6 million at the global box office — an amount the movie studio splits with theatre owners showing The Lone Ranger.
As well as with being generally panned by critics, the action tale sparked controversy over Depp's portrayal of the native sidekick character Tonto.
In addition, Disney's superhero tale Iron Man 3 did not fare as well as The Avengers, released about a year earlier. The news was tempered by the fact that its animated film Monsters University has been a box-office success and performed better than 2012's Brave.
"We are confident that our strategy of creating high-quality branded content positions us well for the future," said Disney CEO Iger, who added that he appreciates the financial risk behind high-cost titles.
"One way to rise above the din and the competition is with a big film, not just big budget, but big story, big cast, big marketing behind it."
Disney's revenue was somewhat bolstered by its theme parks and TV networks, including ESPN, A&E and its Disney channels.