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‘The Lone Ranger’ Could Cost Disney Up to $190 million in Losses

Disney chief Bob Iger says 'We still believe in a tentpole strategy. A tentpole strategy is a good strategy.'

Disney said during its third quarter fiscal earnings call that it expects to lose between $160 million and $190 million from the disappointing performance of “The Lone Ranger.”

The charges will be part of Disney’s fiscal fourth quarter results, which wrap up in September, according to Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo.

The Lone Ranger” has earned $176 million ($87 million domestic) so far at the worldwide box office. Film cost more than $215 million to produce.

Rasulo said the studio will likely post an impairment charge of $86 million with the rest to be based on “The Lone Ranger’s” final run at the worldwide box office, due to changes in accounting rules. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Western that stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer is only open in 40% of international markets, with Japan set to open the film in September.

SEE ALSO: Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer See ‘Lone Ranger’ as New Genre-Bending Superhero

Disney chief Bob Iger was frank on the status of the busy summer season that has left some films — Sony’s “After Earth” and “Smurfs 2,” DreamWorks Animation’s “Turbo,” and Universal’s “R.I.P.D.” struggling for attention.

“The last number of summers have been quite competitive and crowded,” Iger said during the call with analysts. “I don’t think it’s been more crowded or competitive (than previous years) although a lot of attention has been paid to it.”

Iger cited “Iron Man 3” as an example of a film that not only succeeded at the box office this summer but also outperformed the first two installments. With $1.2 billion under its belt, it’s the second highest grossing Marvel film behind “The Avengers,” which earned $1.5 billion.

“We think ‘The Avengers’ helped ‘Iron Man 3,'” Iger said, given the appeal of the superheroes in the film and the resulting box office haul.

“There has been a lot of discussion of the risk of high-cost tenptole films; we certainly can attest to that given ‘The Lone Ranger,'” Iger said. “We still believe in a tentpole strategy. A tentpole strategy is a good strategy,” adding that the “way to rise above the din and the competition is a big film — a big film, a big cast and big marketing behind it.”

Iger added that looking at the studio’s release schedule in the years to come, Pixar, Marvel and the Lucasfilm brands “will help us rise above that din and compete effectively. But you still have to make really strong films. I don’t think the dynamic (of a crowded summer marketplace) has changed all that.”

The executive did admit that it’s become tougher to open films, but also stressed that isn’t new, nor should it surprise the rest of the industry.

“I guess there’s more risk in the marketplace,” Iger said. “We’ve known all about that risk for quite some time.”

When it comes to Marvel films, Iger said the company has only reached “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to exploiting the comicbook company’s characters as franchises and cited “Guardians of the Galaxy” as a new property that the studio is high on to introduce new characters to moviegoers. But he cautioned that “you can’t go to the well too often,” and over sequelize hits.

“It’s hard to make great films,” he said, and the studio should only greenlight new pics “when you believe in the stories and the storytellers.”

Iger was high on the animation division, propping up the success of Pixar’s “Monsters University,” which Disney expects to earn more than $400 million outside of the United States and become the fourth highest-grossing Pixar film.

“Our animation strategy is clearly working,” he said, also citing the success of “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” “Planes,” out this weekend, was initially developed as a direct-to-homevideo release but “we looked at it and saw the quality and decided to bring it out theatrically was a wise move,” Iger said.

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