In one of the most interesting establishment developments on the past year, Disney has halted production on The Lone Ranger, a tentpole movie that was a vehicle for Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and written by Justin Haythe. Why? Budget reasons of course.
Deadline has said that the producers were trying to get the budget down from $250 – 275 million to $200 million, a figure that Disney was much happier with. The production costs could only be reduced to $232 million and as a result The Lone Ranger will no longer be riding out into the sunset, shouting “Hi-Yo! Silver, away!” anytime soon.
Hollywood and the major studios have been very stingy indeed about big budget tentpole movies recently that aren’t yet part of a money making franchise. Recently Universal pulled the plug on two high profile, big budget projects that could have been massive money makers: At the Mountains of Madness and The Dark Tower. Disney also have on their hands Verbinski, Bruckheimer and Depp, who together with Pirates of the Caribbean have brought in tons of money, so why duck out?
Even I have to admit that a $275 million budget for a western is quite outrageous. Plus, Disney have just spent a lot of money on John Carter, so it’s understandable that they’re tiptoeing around massive projects. Plus, the scheduled release date of Christmas 2012 would have seen it face off with The Hobbit, World War Z and Django Unchained. It could have been a massive flop, but then again, it could have always been pushed back to a summer release.
Still, with Depp’s star power behind the film it’s surprising to see it fold. The filmmakers are currently waiting to see what happens on Monday, whether they can sort out production values and set it up for a later date or whether they will take it other studios. Wouldn’t it be ironic if it went to Universal?