Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer are convinced movie critics were "gunning" for The Lone Ranger months before the film flopped in cinemas.

The movie, based on the classic Tv series of the same name, made around $175 million (£117 million) at the global box office following its release this summer (13), failing to earn back its estimated budget of more than $225 million (£150 million) and suffering a massive loss for the Disney movie studio.

The Lone Ranger was also hit with scathing reviews from critics, with reviewers branding it "bland", "charmless" and a "bloated, misshapen mess", and several even urged fans not to bother going to see it.

Depp and Hammer have now addressed the film's disappointing performance, and blamed critics for not giving the picture a fair chance.

The Edwards Scissorhands star, who played the masked lawman's sidekick Tonto, tells Yahoo! Movies Uk, "I think the reviews were written seven to eight months before we released the film. I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore (director Gore Verbinski) and Jerry (producer Jerry Bruckheimer) and me were going to do The Lone Ranger. They had expectations that it must be a blockbuster. I didn't have any expectations of that. I never do."

Hammer adds, "This is the deal with American critics: they've been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time, that's when most of the critics wrote their initial reviews. If you go back and read the negative reviews, most of them aren't about the content of the movie, but more what's behind it. It's got to the point with American critics where if you're not as smart as Plato, you're stupid. That seems like a sad way to live your life."

The Social Network star adds that reviewers "slit the jugular" of the movie.