This outcome should have been obvious all along, because 100 years of moviemaking have given us absolutely no excuse to think otherwise. The Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim were blushingly expensive movies in two genres that have never been huge box office draws. Why would bathing each production in a $200 million shower of hubris suddenly convince audiences to go see them?
"What if we throw in the car?"
No Western or giant-monster film in history has ever grossed $200 million domestically. The closest Westerns have ever come were the True Grit remake, which pulled in $175 million on a budget of $38 million, and Unforgiven, with a lifetime gross of just over $100 million on a budget of $14 million. (It's actually tied with Maverick, but Maverick is immediately disqualified due to my suspicion that it was partially funded by Mel Gibson's Nazi gold.) The two most successful Westerns ever made, combined, cost less to produce than Disney spent to shelter and feed Johnny Depp and apply his Glenn Danzig face paint.
Walt Disney Pictures
There was also a substantial earmark for dead birds.
The giant-monster genre is much more of a wasteland. (Please note that I'm not counting the Transformers movies as "giant monster" movies, because they aren't. They're Transformers movies.) Cloverfield is the biggest success ever -- that movie managed to earn $80 million (a little over three times its budget) based on a hugely successful viral marketing campaign that deliberately told you absolutely nothing about the film except that a bunch of douchebags were going to be imperiled by a Statue-of-Liberty-decapitating mystery beast. That's like handing a kid a present shrouded in Space Tyrannosaurus wrapping paper -- the present itself may end up sucking, but there's no way that kid isn't going to open it and make sure.
The only other monster "success" was the 1998 Godzilla remake, which earned $136 million on a budget of $130 million. Most of that blazing 5 percent profit was based on Independence Day juice -- there wasn't a single preview that didn't make it abundantly clear that the bards behind this spirited retelling of Godzilla were the same two blind squirrels responsible for Independence Day, the 1996 tidal wave of American currency that Will Smith surfed to international superstardom. The movie was so terribly received that TriStar executives immediately cancelled its plans for a Godzilla trilogy and narrowly avoided being executed for war crimes. However, since the obvious decision is to revisit it 16 years later and throw even more money at it, 2014 will bring us yet another Godzilla reboot, starring box office champion and electrifying hit-streak machine Aaron Taylor-Johnson (star of Shanghai Knights and Kick-Ass 2).
Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures/Toho
Historically speaking, this can do nothing but succeed.