As films opened Wednesday, and this column comes to you on Thursdays, it’s hard not to note that the results of this weekend are already pretty clear. Despicable Me 2 is a huge hit, and The Lone Ranger is bombing.

The well liked cartoon delivering big numbers is no surprise, but there was some hope that The Lone Ranger could overcome whatever negative buzz the film had. And though the film may get to over $50 Million for the five day, the only way the picture could be saved is if it does well internationally. As a western that seems impossible; foreign territories (with some notable exceptions — like Italy) generally don’t go for the wild west stuff.

The Lone Ranger was a troubled production from the get-go, and we had been reporting on it for a very long time before it got in front of the camera. Originally the film was to feature werewolves, and to cost somewhere around $250 Million. Currently it has a listed budget of $215 Million and no werewolves.

There are two things that may have happened here. One is that Disney couldn’t say no to Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer as they delivered the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. They may have wanted to, and may have actively worked against the film, but it could have been a situation where if the three could bring a film in under a certain budget, they had the power to get it made. The other is that Disney, which has gone through some executive chair reshuffling lately, wanted it to die from the outset, to shame the people who wanted to make it. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has had a lot of ups and downs in his career, and has surely built up a number of enemies. After this, it may be that he’s the custodian of the Pirates franchise, but that’s the most we hear out of him. And though the fourth film made over a billion dollars, that was mostly international. Domestic audiences have begun to sour on Captain Jack Sparrow. But a fifth one is on the way, which could be the last.

So, numbers:

  1. Despicable Me 2 - $80 Million
  2. The Lone Ranger -  $28.5 Million
  3. Monsters University – $27.3 Million
  4. The Heat – $22.7 Million
  5. World War Z – $14.5 Million

The Lone Ranger could go lower. Ouch.

What are you going to watch this weekend.