No One Wants To Watch Big Budget Westerns At The Movies

Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” isn’t even out in theatres yet, and it’s already getting slammed by critics.

Other than Armie Hammer’s performance as the titular character, the radio and television series remake is being called an over-the-top, violent, and boring film overrun by Johnny Depp’s Tonto.

The lesson that may be learned here is that we don’t need more Westerns in theatres.

There are two types of Westerns Hollywood makes.

There are serious Oscar contenders like “True Grit” and “Dances With Wolves” and then there are campy, over-the-top action thrillers. 

The first lot do pretty well at theatres. Take a look at five of the highest-grossing Westerns along with their respective estimated production budgets.

best westerns box office

Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” (1992) also earned $159 million for Warner Bros. There’s no reported production cost for the film.

Now, take a look at some far-fetched Westerns. Not only are the budgets on these films much more inflated, but the intake often fails to make up for the oversized production costs. We’ve included “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” because the film was a big dud at theatres.

westerns box office bust chart

The one film that did the best here was Johnny Depp’s animated flick “Rango” from 2011. Will Smith’s heavily critiqued steampunk “Wild Wild West” is one of the most expensive Westerns to date.

One anomaly to this pattern is “Back to the Future Part III.” That film earned $244.5 million on an estimated production budget of $40 million. 

However, it was the third in a very popular franchise. Despite making more money than its predecessors, you rarely see this one on television compared to the first two.

“The Lone Ranger” will be the costliest Western to date at an estimated $250 million.

We don’t need to tell you which category it falls under.

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