By Ben Kayser, Associate Editor
Why did the Lone Ranger ride into theaters only to fail miserably at the box office? What went wrong with the beloved hero and role model that multiple generations grew up watching? A few will blame the director, others will blame the marketing team, and some might just believe the competition was too tough. What few are pointing out is the obvious fact that Disney’s THE LONE RANGER is not a movie for kids.
Recent numbers are already coming out showing that 58 percent of moviegoers that went to see THE LONE RANGER were over the age of 35. Only 16 percent of the moviegoers were under the age of 18. Disney shouldn’t be surprised at all by these numbers for several reasons. The Lone Ranger character was created to be a role model for children. And even if Disney’s version provides some role model material, it’s presented in a world that is too gruesome and violent for young children to handle. The fact that THE LONE RANGER garnered a PG-13 rating should have warned Disney of its fate.
The Lone Ranger first started as a radio show in the 1930s and then went on to become a hit television series in the 1950s. Both original actors Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, who play the crimefighting duo of the Lone Ranger and Tonto took their position as role models very seriously. They even wrote up a creed of what principles their characters stand for.
- “I believe…
- “That to have a friend, a man must be one.
- “That all men are created equal, and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
- “That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
- “In being prepared physically, mentally and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
- “That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
- “That ‘this government of the people, by the people and for the people’ shall live always.
- “That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
- “That sooner or later. . . somewhere. . . somehow. . . we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
- “That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
- “In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”
Disney’s new interpretation of THE LONE RANGER character may still hold to a moral code of justice and freedom, but, much like the new MAN OF STEEL, these moral codes and principals are no longer safely accessible to young children due to violence and crude language. If Disney is still wondering why THE LONE RANGER tanked at the box office, it’s because they alienated not just a young audience that would enjoy such a character, but a young audience that could be inspired.
For further information on the themes of THE LONE RANGER, please read our review here https://www.movieguide.org/reviews/the-lone-ranger.html.