As you may have heard, Disney’s big-budget adaptation of The Lone Ranger kinda bit the big one at the box office last weekend, taking in less than $50 million and ensuring a healthy loss for movie that cost at least five times that. Plenty of theories for its tanking have been bandied about, here and elsewhere: Depp’s star is falling, young audiences are unfamiliar with the character, Westerns are always a hard sell. But here’s one more thought: maybe it’s because word got around that The Lone Ranger ran a befuddlingly inflated 149 minutes, and viewers couldn’t imagine sitting through a summer action movie that was that goddamn long. (That gripe made it all the way to the headlines of some reviews.) It’s not just a matter of personal preference, either; over the course of a day’s screenings, that extra half hour adds up to one more Lone Ranger showing that theaters couldn’t sell. Still, it’s not like The Lone Ranger is the sole offender — especially in recent years, more and more filmmakers are pushing their luck with bloated running times that test viewers’ patience and indicate producers and editors falling down on the job.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Runs: 169 minutes
Should have run: 105 minutes
Why: The Lone Ranger wasn’t director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and star Johnny Depp’s first time overstaying their welcome at the cinema: all three installments in their initial Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy ran well over two hours, for no good reason. The self-indulgence coming to a head in their 2007 installment, which ran a butt-numbing two hours and 49 minutes; when Verbinski handed directorial reins on the fourth film over to Rob Marshall, he knocked it down to 132 minutes — the shortest film in the series to date — but even that seems insanely bloated for what should be a light, throwaway theme-park pirate flick.