Somewhat surprisingly, Deadline is reporting that Disney has pulled the plug on their huge Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp 2012 tentpole project, THE LONE RANGER, a film that was reportedly going to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $250 million! Wait, WTF?!
While studios pulling the plug on big expensive films is nothing new, the surprise here is that Disney would balk at what would have been the return of the original PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN team – Depp, Verbinski, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer – after that franchise has already brought boatloads of cash to the Mouse House from around the world (and that’s not to mention the even more successful latest entry, ON STRANGER TIDES, which is already the 8th highest grossing film of all-time). Reportedly, Disney wanted the film’s budget dropped to $200 million, but the filmmakers could apparently only get it down to around 230. This leads to the second issue here…
WHY IN THE WORLD IS A LONE RANGER FILM COSTING 200 WHATEVER F*CKING MILLION DOLLARS?
According to Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere, an insider is saying that the reason the budget’s so insanely high is because “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 going to be a Tonto show mainly. Tonto as the top dog and more dominant than the Lone Ranger [played by THE SOCIAL NETWORK’s Armie Hammer]. 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.”
Werewolves? You nerd-baiting hacks!
Then the insider gives what’s probably the most common sense reason why THE LONE RANGER is now kaput:
“But then Cowboys & Aliens came along and tanked and Disney got cold tenderfeet, spooked by the idea of a pricey mashup. If Cowboys & Aliens had made $200 million, this wouldn’t be happening. A Bruckheimer-style western in the wake of Cowboys & Aliens is nothing anyone is feeling secure about at this stage. Trust me, the writers of tentpole garbage are all scared now.”
All involved really want to see THE LONE RANGER get made, so expect to see the film either go to another studio or else head back to the writing stage in an attempt to lower its budget. Whatever happens, I kind of see this and the failure of COWBOYS & ALIENS as mini-victories of sorts that will hopefully push movie studios into making more intelligent fiscal decisions with what films get the green light and which do not. In a perfect world, this would mean better films for us, the audience.