Disney Gets 'The Lone Ranger' with Johnny Depp Back on the Saddle
After abruptly lassoing The Lone Ranger last month due to an overly inflated budget, Disney is aiming to start working again on the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, Gore Verbinski-directed film starring Armie Hammer as the titular masked hero and Johnny Depp as his sidekick, Tonto. With a planned release date of December 21st, 2012, the studio is looking to start shooting in early 2012, giving them just under a year to complete the film. But with a nearly $250 million plus budget and action set pieces like "the biggest train sequence in film history," how will the filmmakers be able to scale things back to satisfy the studio?
According to an update on Deadline, the answer seems to be lots and lots of painstaking negotiations, that include reworkings of Depp's deal, along with Verbinski and Bruckheimer's deals as well. No mention is made of female lead Ruth Wilson or supporters Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam or Tom Wilkinson but we're assuming they're still attached since the release date is currently the same. The studio also enforced a big overhaul on the production and the script from Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) - which was rumored to include things like supernatural elements and other genre-benders. Disney knows a thing or two about dealing with things like that when it comes to Verbinski, as the director is notorious for getting out of hand with his films. Case in point, 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which still holds the record (on paper) for the most expensive film ever made. At World's End and Dead Man's Chest also happen to be tied as the most expensive multi-film productions ever.
That could have had something to do with what happened over a DreamWorks this past summer. You may remember a little film called Cowboys & Aliens? No? So bad you've stricken it from your memory? Well, me too. Crazy when you consider the fact that it only came out two months ago! But the instantly forgettable blockbuster tanked like the Titanic (the ship, not the movie), grossing only $98 million domestic to date with an estimated budget of $163 million. So, for a psuedo-Western with sci-fi and supernatural elements to do so dreadfully bad, someone over at The Mouse House had to have paying attention.
But $215 million is still a lot more than $163 million, and an even bigger gamble for the studio, so only time will tell if The Lone Ranger will actually yell "Hi Ho Silver!" at the box office come December of next year. Perhaps this could turn out to be the biggest train wreck in film history? At least Disney has its horse putting one hoof in front of the other in the right direction towards getting this thing made. Good news?