The production budgets for Hollywood blockbusters have skyrocketed in recent years, which makes sense when you consider what goes into making a movie like Justice League or Avengers: Infinity War. That said, some big summer movies have racked up some pretty insane expenses, such as Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger reboot, which came out back in 2013. According to the film's star Armie Hammer, The Lone Ranger even spent a portion of its budget on a yo-yo world champion who was hired to accomplish just one trick with a pocket watch. The Call Me By Your Name star explained:
We were shooting [2013's] Lone Ranger, and Tom Wilkinson had to do a thing where he pulls out a pocket watch and flips it, and it opens on his hand. It was a cool little trick. So because they had a borderline unlimited budget, they're like, 'Let's bring in the yo-yo world champion.' He was like, 'That's not a yo-yo.' And they go, 'Yeah, but can you help him do it?' And he goes, 'Yeah, you pull it out of your pocket and you do that.' Tom goes, 'Like this?' Click. And he is like, 'Yeah, just like that.' And then he was with us for the rest of the movie.
So even though Tom Wilkinson picked up the trick pretty quickly, the folks at Disney had signed him on and had to keep paying to keep the yo-yo champion around for the duration of the shoot. It likely didn't seem like a big deal at the time of production, mainly when explosions and massive set pieces were eating up the budget much more quickly, but the guy did one quick task and was signed on for the duration of the entire production. It makes it easy to see how movies sometimes lose money even when they make a decent amount at the box office.
During his THR roundtable with other industry heavy-hitters, Armie Hammer did not provide the exact price range to keep a world champion of yo-yo on retainer for a big budget Hollywood movie, but we do know that it only adds to an already staggering figure. The Lone Ranger cost a whopping $215 million for Disney to make, and it just grossed $260 million worldwide during its theatrical run. Considering advertising and other costs that come after the production, that is generally considered a box office flop, as well as a perfect reminder that a high production cost will often eat into a potential blockbuster's bottom line.
The poor box office performance for The Lone Ranger ultimately had a significant impact on the overarching direction of Armie Hammer's career. After taking aim at the way critics treated the film upon its release, Hammer moved on to smaller projects like Free Fire and Call Me By Your Name. The almost-Batman actor has a fascinatingly bizarre history with big-budget movies, but his more intimate work seems to be paying off now with awards consideration and avalanches of critical praise.
Given the fact that it does not look like we will get to see a second Lone Ranger anytime soon, I guess we can all look back on that pocket watch trick fondly as a standout moment from Gore Verbinski's 2013 reboot. As for Armie Hammer, you can currently catch him in award contender Call Me By Your Name, which is now in theaters.