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Local News

May 4, 2013

Hollywood placing bets on summer blockbusters

(Continued)

The $225-million film, based on a story that began as a series of radio plays, stars Armie Hammer as the masked Texas ranger and Johnny Depp as his Native American partner, Tonto.

Recent Western-themed pictures have found mixed results at the box office: “Django Unchained” and “True Grit” were successful, but “Cowboys & Aliens” and “John Carter” were flops. “The Lone Ranger,” due out over the Fourth of July weekend, also had a troubled production during which shooting was temporarily halted because of budgetary concerns.

One Disney executive said that shouldn’t keep people away.

“I think the buzz about that is dying down naturally,” said Asad Ayaz, Disney’s senior vice president of global marketing. “Our international teams that have seen the footage know its a big, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced blockbuster, and in the same way that ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ defied that genre, this really transcends the Western genre.”

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

Theater owners who gathered at the industry’s CinemaCon annual convention last month said that a lack of diversity in the marketplace was partly responsible for the poor box-office numbers this year.

But if exhibitors remain uneasy about “The Lone Ranger,” a handful say they spot breakout hits in raunchy, lower-cost R-rated comedies “The Heat” and “This Is the End.”

“The Heat,” 20th Century Fox’s buddy cop film starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, had “exhibitors rolling with laughter when that screened at CinemaCon,” Zacheretti said.

Sony Pictures’ “This Is the End,” meanwhile, stars James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill as exaggerated versions of themselves facing the apocalypse.

“We’ve done a lot of preview screenings, and I think it plays better than any movie I’ve ever done because the audience is so shocked at what we have some of these celebrities doing,” said Rogen, who wrote and directed the picture with his longtime collaborator, Evan Goldberg. “Being in a theater with 300 people laughing their a---- off is something exciting for people to head to the theater for. People want to laugh as well as see skyscrapers getting torn up.”

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