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