For The Lone Ranger, a boycott might actually be helpful at this point, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is about to get it.
The update of the classic cowboy hero and his Native American sidekick Tonto has grossed a pretty abysmal $147 million worldwide as of Monday, Box Office Mojo notes.
That’s on a budget of $215 million because, apparently, some genius at the studio thought you needed that much money to make a western.
Well, sometimes controversy can create cash, and surprisingly, the oncoming international Lone Ranger boycott has nothing to do with the most obviously offensive thing about the movie (Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Tonto).
No, a group of charities are boiling mad that the villainous Butch Cavendish character, portrayed by William Fichtner, is wearing a prosthetic cleft lip while engaging in his on-screen villainy.
THR pointed out that the character synopsis from the studio describes Cavendish as having a “terribly scarred face,” which is “a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul.”
Transforming Faces executive director Esteban Lasso, said in a statement that children with cleft lips are often the targets of bullies, adding, “It’s disheartening that a major motion picture would perpetuate this negative perception and we hope that in future, birth defects and facial differences will not be used to portray ‘evil’ characters.”
(That’s it for James Bond, we suppose.)
Lasso was joined by the UK’s Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA), calling for The Lone Ranger boycott, starting with the film’s British release date of August 9.
“We’re extremely disappointed to see that Disney are once again cashing in on prejudice by giving their villain in the upcoming Lone Ranger movie a very visible cleft lip as part of his ‘look’ as an evil, sinister character. Not only is this incredibly lazy storytelling, it’s also sending a deeply harmful message that will impact the 90,000 people that were born with a cleft in the UK as well as others worldwide,” the British organization said in a press release.
The statement continued: “A congenital abnormality is not something to be made fun of, a cleft lip does not add to the ‘look’ of a villain, a character like this will not help the public’s perception or understanding of cleft, and Disney, we will NOT be going to see your movie.”
(You and the rest of the world, CLAPA. You and the rest of the world.)
Disney had not issued a response to the comments as of late Monday night.
Do you think The Lone Ranger boycott will be successful, or could it end up giving the film’s international box office take a much needed boost?