News came last week that The Lone Ranger, Disney’s tentpole remake starring Johnny Depp and directed by Gore Verbinski, was canceled due to budget issues. Now, word has it that the budget was so high because of the CGI effects needed to bring the werewolf elements of the story to life. That’s right, The Lone Ranger wasn’t going to be just another western but a sort of Indian-spirituality-werewolf thing.
According to Hollywood Elsewhere, The Lone Ranger was going to be a “Lone Ranger Meets the Wolfman” thing. Shown by an earlier draft of the script by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, the story surrounded a Native American werewolf terrorizing victims and leaving a bloody trail behind.
When Disney announced it was halting production on the big-budget western remake that re-united Verbinski, Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer, it took everyone by surprise. Not only is that a power-house franchise-making team, but Disney was giving it a $200 million budget. The problem was, filmmakers couldn’t get the projected cost of the film lower than $232 million.
That seems unusually high for a western, unless there was something going on story-wise that was being kept secret. If the rumors are true, and The Lone Ranger was going to be a CGI-heavy werewolf movie, it goes a long way to explain why the budget estimate was so astronomical.
Hollywood Elsewhere’s source said the intention with The Lone Ranger was always to make a big Bruckheimer CG movie, with story elements including Native American occult and werewolves.
It was always going to be a big Bruckheimer CG movie with traditional Bruckheimer elements with an eye toward being a tentpole, totally Pirates-style. It was never going to be a semi-traditional western…it was never going to be Zorro.
It was going to be a Tonto (Depp) show mainly. Tonto as the top dog and more dominant than the Lone Ranger. Tonto and the Indian spirits like Obi Wan Kenobi and the force. The driving engine was going to be Native American occult aspects worked in with werewolves and special effects. But flavored with doses of Native American spirituality in a serious way.
After the mediocre reception to western/sci-fi Cowboys and Aliens, it’s understandable that Disney didn’t want to gamble on a tent pole western/supernatural beasty film in a market that isn’t overly friendly to genre film.
I had no interest in The Lone Ranger until I heard it was going to be a werewolf/Native American mythology thing. Some people are saying this is not a dead issue quite yet, so I can only hope Disney will resurrect this project with supernatural elements in tow.