It's not hard to imagine that somewhere in the recesses of Hollywood, some development exec is pointing at the abysmal returns from Disney's failed attempt at a new Johnny Depp franchise, "The Lone Ranger," and saying that the western is dead because audiences don't care about cowboys.
That studio exec is very, very wrong.
The exec has some good evidence, though. "The Lone Ranger" may result in a loss for Disney totaling $150 million. One of last year's biggest flops, "John Carter," begins in a western setting. Even James Bond and Han Solo couldn't bring audience out to see "Cowboys & Aliens." Don't even mention "Wild Wild West."
But these aren't the movies that the exec should be looking at to gauge the vitals of the western. These are all perfectly good examples of why, of all genres, you don't mess with the western by adding crappy effects. If you really want to know if the western still has some power, these are the three movies you need to consider.