Disney Stops Production on Verbinski's 'The Lone Ranger' with Depp

August 13, 2011
Source: Deadline

The Lone Ranger Cancelled

Hi-yo, Disney? Big news as Deadline reports Disney has shut down production on Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger, the period western set to star Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Ranger. The report says the budget was getting out of hand, pushing upwards of $250 million, though Disney didn't want to go above $200M. I'm guessing the lackluster performance of Cowboys & Aliens didn't help either. This is a very interesting development in the future of Disney, as the project was announced years ago with Bruckheimer producing, and was finally casting and gearing to shoot, but there's a chance it could survive.

In the Deadline news, an exec insider mentions that "there's always a chance it could still go" and "you never know until you know", so it sounds like this isn't completely dead yet, but is just being stopped and pulled back so they can reconfigure the budget before moving forward any further. Variety also says the same, that Lone Ranger "is far from dead at the studio" and that they're going to work on bringing down the massive $200M budget before continuing. Deadline's report mentions that Disney is already spending $200M on Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful, and upwards of $300M or more on John Carter of Mars, which has had reshoots and more. But still, with a name as big as Johnny Depp involved, it's fascinating to hear that Disney was unsure of The Lone Ranger. But honestly, how many were really that excited for it anyway?

This isn't the first time anyone involved was on a big project that was stopped last minute - Gore Verbinski on BioShock, Johnny Depp on Don Quixote / Lost in La Mancha, and Armie Hammer on George Miller's Justice League Mortal. The Lone Ranger cast also included Ruth Wilson as the female lead, with Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, Tom Wilkinson and Dwight Yoakam in supporting roles. It was scheduled for release December 21st, 2012, which is also the same day Paramount just set World War Z for. It sounds like Disney is definitely pulling back on the reins until they can get this under control and potentially try again.

Variety mentions that in a recent call with investors earlier this week, Disney CEO Robert Iger even hinted that they would be cutting back: "We feel we're better off by reducing the size of the slate and making films that are bigger and increasingly more risky." Really? And it looks like Bruckheimer's The Lone Ranger is the first on the chopping block. The movie was supposed to shoot this October down in New Mexico, but with these reports, I doubt it'll be getting a greenlight to start shooting this fall at all. For the time being, Disney has Gore Verbinski's Lone Ranger back on the shelf until they can figure things out. I don't think Johnny Depp will have a problem finding other work, let's hope Verbinski and Hammer can find something else worthwhile to work on as well. Was anyone out there looking forward to seeing this?

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  • tommyturner
    Pirate themed movies were losers until Depp got involved.  Chances are westerns would be affected in same way.  Right now Depp is pretty much golden in Hollywood.
    • Anonymous
      Yeah, like there's been a glut of pirate movies made in the wake of the horrible 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise. Okay. And people don't want cartoon westerns with pretty people and fake explosions, they want the dark and gritty westerns that Clint Eastwood does. The western is a metaphor for a free and untamed America, a dark and realistic America and, by extension, the struggle of it's people as told in often simple morality tales.
  • That's unfortunate. Although I get tired of remakes, I would have still liked to see this rendition. 
  • Chazzy
    Dang it....   I was so excited for this.
  • $250 million....for a western.....
  • i was disinterested. especially that Tonto would not be played by a native American actor. 
    • tommyturner
      A 200+ million dollar western starring Lou Diamond Phillips.........I don't think so.
    • Monkeyandpirategirl
      FYI, Johnny is half Cherokee Indian in case you didn't know. 😉
      • Anonymous
        Aren't we all? :)
  • Desispeed
    250mil for a western??  was Depp's contract half of that or something!??
  • Blue Silver
    I guess this project went to the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump!
  • Anonymous
    Obviously Cacti, Buzzard and Horse extras are charging more than in the glory days of the genre, but still...250M....... on a shaggin western....
  • TJ
    I was really looking forward to seeing Depp in that role
  • Anonymous
    Also have to add the fact that Green Hornet, Thor, Green Lantern and other B and C-List heroes haven't made gazzilions, despite all the money thrown at them. Maybe Hollywood is finally learning to make great films efficiently. Oh wait, they're abandoning small and medium size/budget films for 1 more schlockbuster, and a buying a couple independents for cheap.
    • Craig
      Neither of those movies had Johnny Depp, though. I think The Lone Ranger would be a success.  A $250 mil budget is a bit excessive, however.
      • Agreed. How about a good script...
  • Blame it on the Europeans. Not just that they don't like Westerns... period. They also put big money into Hollywood studios and specifically say none of their money can go into Westerns. Asians love Westerns. The trick is getting China to love Westerns. Since they're a new market and haven't been exposed to Westerns that much, if they get to like Westerns, their would be no hesistation in Hollywood and you'd probably see the rebirth of the Western in Hollywood movies. It was the Europeans that killed the Western.
    • tommyturner
      What about Spaghetti Westerns?
      • damn italians......wait....
        • Lebowski
          lol right? this is comically misinformed
  • Rebekah
    Yes, I was looking forward to seeing it! I think that the cast is incredible & hope they reconsider. I can understand possibly changing the time for filming & release date. It's always good to make sure it's completely ready & not rushing it. I love to watch the works of Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, & Johnny Depp together. Such imagination & creativity! Rebekah from Phoenix 😉
  • peter
    shame, after seeing rango and hearing the casting i was actually looking forward to how they would handle this.
  • Jedibilly
    WTF! $250 million for a western!? So, there's going to be what, a giant monster? Alien attack? Ridiculous!
  • And next week they will announce that everything is a go again.
  • Lebowski
    Lets call it 200 million for a western, plus Johnny Depp's salary (and presumably huge backend deal). Shit if they had made this, with the promotional budget they could've been pushing 350 mill. Idiots.
  • Anonymous
    Ridiculous budget for any motion picture. It's been heading this way for a long time; maybe now it's crunch time for Hollywood.
  • Now that this system allows me to post, I'll add my thoughts from yesterday. So even when the studio has the people it wants for a project i gets pulled from under everyone. Look, grab Brad Pitt (with dyed hair) or George Clooney to tag along with Johnny Depp and we have movie. Would be interesting to see either actor with Depp.  Now are they going to keep the child friendly silly nature it was rumored to have or will they go series?
  • Anonymous
    Maybe if they drop the CGI horses.
  • Anonymous
    To be honest, $250 Million is a pretty outrageous number. The entire LOTR trilogy was made with about that much money. When your budget starts going over $100 Million and you think you need to double that to get your film made, you might want to think about exactly what you're doing. I mean, this is a damn western, right? Build a set, get some lights, have people act on the set under the lights. Do they need to create a CGI battle sequence or is Lucifer going to raise his army of demons to do battle with heaven here on earth in this film? It's the lone ranger, for fuck's sake. I don't see how you could possibly need more than $100M for this to work and have as many huge set-pieces as you could ever want. I can kinda understand the need for a huge budget with the pirates movies, as those are supernatural fantasy movies with multiple CGI characters and you're shooting over open water and in weird exotic locations and shit. The Lone Ranger is a friggin western about normal human beings riding around on horses shooting guns and having fistfights. Sounds like they need to scrap their script and start from scratch.
  • That is a ridiculous figure. Strip out all the CGI and deliver a real old fashioned western with stunts performed by real people and that would be worth watching for I am sure less money.
  • Anonymous
    I think the movie should be called "The Lone Ranger With Depp".




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