The Lone Ranger's Back In The Saddle

With a new, tighter budget

Back in August, it looked like Disney’s big plan to make a film version of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and director Gore Verbinski might never happen, since the studio had balked at the project’s hefty cost. Now, after a few weeks of talks and money bargaining, Deadline reports that the Ranger is back in the saddle with a reduced budget.

We say “reduced” but it’s still a lot: while the original estimates for the film put it around $250 - $275 million (which had the Mouse House’s bean counters refusing to turn on the greenlight), it’s apparently now going to be shot for a thriftier $215 million.

Why so pricey? Well, while the basic concept is a Western, which should indicate a slightly more affordable price range, the script by Justin Haythe featured werewolves and other supernatural elements that shoved the costs up. Then there’s the fact that Depp, Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer don’t come cheap, though they’ve all apparently made concessions to get the price tag down.

So we should soon expect Disney to make it official once more with a release date announcement and confirmation that the casting – particularly Depp, who the studio needs if it hopes to make the money back – in place. Hammer will likely still be the titular hero, partnered with Depp’s Tonto, who has to find out who killed his brother while foiling a bigger plot…