The Lone Ranger will blaze the production trail after all with Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer cutting the necessary costs to get the Johnny Depp vehicle back on the saddle.
Disney had originally balked at the estimated $250 million budget for The Lone Ranger and halted pre-production back in mid-August ahead of its scheduled November production start date. The massive budget was said to be due to elaborate sets and visual effects, and big paydays for the talent.
The new deal trims the budget down to a more manageable, but still lofty, $215 million. That’s a gamble for a western after Cowboys and Aliens failed to evolve into a blockbuster, but peanuts if Johnny Depp can strike the same connection with audiences as Tonto that he did as Jack Sparrow in the four Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Costs were trimmed by writers Terry Rossio, Justin Haythe and Ted Elliott eliminating some of the big planned effects sequences. On top of that, director Gore Verbinski, stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, as well as producer Jerry Bruckheimer all agreed to take a 20 percent reduction in their fees. In addition, a portion of their fees are deferred pending the film’s box office success.
Large films can ofter go over budget, so the final portion of the deal leaves Bruckheimer Films 100 percent responsible for any cost overruns. Disney is completely off the hook.
Depp is currently working again with Tim Burton on the feature film version of Dark Shadows. By locking down The Lone Ranger for production beginning in February, Depp can jump into it before other projects he’s circling including The Thin Man.
The Lone Ranger was originally scheduled for release on December 21, 2012. It will now be pushed into 2013, though an exact date has not yet been made public.