The Lone Ranger was unceremoniously thrown from his horse last night when it was confirmed that Disney had shut down production on the upcoming film due to a soaring budget. This weekend its future is up in the air as Disney must now decide what to do with the high profile project.
The Lone Ranger budget has reportedly creeped over the $200 million mark and continued to rise during pre-production. That’s a hefty price tag for a big science-fiction film with tons of CGI, much less a western where special effects would presumably be fewer. Even Cowboys & Aliens, a western mash-up with an alien invasion and Harrison Ford to pay for, cost under $170 million to produce.
News of the sudden halt surprised everyone considering the names behind it. The “money” trio of Jerry Bruckheimer as a producer, Gore Verbinski as the director and Johnny Depp as the star raked in huge bucks on the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. Depp additionally worked with Verbinski providing the voice of an animated chameleon in Rango earlier this year, a film that went on to gross over $123 million at the domestic box office.
The halt especially must be aggravating for Armie Hammer, The Social Network breakout star as the Winklevoss twins who was set to play the title character. If the film does not get made or the delay drags out, it will be interesting to see who snaps him up and for what role.
Johnny Depp always has projects in the pipeline including the cash cow Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He would be disappointed not to play Tonto in the film, but it wouldn’t take long for him to land another role. You can bet Disney is itching to get Captain Jack Sparrow back on the big screen as soon as possible and this news might speed up that process.
There’s still a chance the budget will be revised and The Lone Ranger will, at some point, resume production and ride again. Disney could also opt to shop it elsewhere and see if another studio is willing to take a gamble on a $200 million+ western with Johnny Depp attached.