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Disney's 'Lone Ranger' off to a slow gallop at holiday box office

Director of the movie Gore Verbinski poses at the world premiere of "The Lone Ranger" at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Califo
Director of the movie Gore Verbinski poses at the world premiere of "The Lone Ranger" at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Califo

(Reuters) - "The Lone Ranger," Walt Disney Co's big-budget Western starring Johnny Depp, wrangled just $19.5 million in ticket sales in its first two full days at U.S. and Canadian movie theaters, trailing far behind the $59.5 million racked up by animated sequel "Despicable Me 2."

The tally for "Lone Ranger," which included receipts starting on Tuesday night through Thursday's U.S. Independence Day holiday, put the film on pace to miss, by a long haul, industry forecasts for the holiday period.

The film about the masked man who fights injustice was likely to finish with about $45 million at domestic theaters through Sunday, Disney said. That was far below the $60 million to $70 million predicted ahead of the film's opening.

"If it does end up grossing less than $50 million" by Sunday, "it will most certainly go down as a misfire," said Jeff Bock, a senior analyst for Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box office prospects.

Disney spent an estimated $225 million to make "Lone Ranger" and more than $100 million to market the film, an action remake of a 1930s radio show and a 1950s TV series. Armie Hammer plays the masked man who fights injustice with help from Tonto, his Native American companion played by Depp.

The film's poor opening is a black eye for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski and Depp, the trio behind Disney's ultra-successful "Pirates of the Caribbean" series.

"Despicable Me 2," produced for $76 million, pulled in family audiences to dominate ticket sales over one of the year's biggest movie-going periods, the days around the July Fourth holiday. The film also started screening on Tuesday night, with Wednesday its first full day in theaters.

The film from Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures features the voice of Steve Carell, reprising his role as Gru from the 2010 blockbuster "Despicable Me." The sequel gave Universal its biggest Wednesday opening ever and was the third-highest opening day for any animated film.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Eric Beech)

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