Johnny Depp and his Lone Ranger co-stars have fired back at US critics ahead of the big-budget western's British release this week. The Gore Verbinski helmed movie, starring Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Ranger, was mauled by critics stateside and opened to just $29 million.

Johnny Depp Armie HammerJohnny Depp [L] and Armie Hammer [R] Play Tonto and the Lone Ranger

"I think the reviews were written 7-8 months before we released the film," Depp told Yahoo Movies: "I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore [Verbinksi] and 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 agreed, saying: "I have a delightful opinion about that that she's gonna get mad to me about sharing [his publicist]. But I'm going to tell you. 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."

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, whose reputation suffered a dent with the box-office failure, suggested the critics will eventually re-appraise The Lone Ranger. 

Johnny Depp Armie HammerTonto and The Lone Ranger

"I think they were reviewing the budget, not reviewing the movie. The audience doesn't care what the budget is - they pay the same amount if it costs a dollar or 20 million dollars," he said.

The good news for Depp, Hammer and Bruckheimer is that, on the whole, British critics have warmed to the movie. 

"Talk about a pleasant surprise!" said Empire Magazine's Angie Errigo, "Real storytelling, well thought-out and beautifully, at times insanely, executed, with excitement, laughs and fun to make you feel seven years old again."

"A strange and fascinating and often thrilling movie artefact," said the Telegraph's Robbie Collin.

"Gorgeously shot, brilliantly acted and recklessly ambitious," said Andy Lea of the Daily Star.

Catch The Lone Ranger when it opens in UK cinemas on August 9, 2013. 

Watch the Lone Ranger trailer here: