If Disney’s planned film of The Lone Ranger were a horse, it would have just stopped abruptly at a jump and thrown its rider – in this case, a weird combination figure of director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp – flying. Because the Mouse House has just shut down production on the movie.
Deadline reports that the decision was apparently made because the budget had been creeping up to around $250 million, which seems like an awful lot of dosh to be spending on a movie based on an old TV show, even given the people involved in making it. Though Depp and Verbinski have been part of some of Disney’s biggest hits – three of the Pirates movies together, with Depp also appearing in the fourth and Alice in Wonderland – it seems like the even the big studios are playing it cautiously when considering big gambles these days.
Since Disney already has the expensive likes of John Carter and Oz: The Great and Powerful in various stages along the pipeline and decided to put the brakes on Lone Ranger while it was still getting set to shoot. The studio’s executives will likely still want to try to get it made (especially since Depp has a pay or play deal that means he gets his cash either way) but the budget will need to shrink first and there’s now a big doubt whether the movie will make its planned 2012 release date. But given that the US slot would have seen it up against the first Hobbit film, that might be a blessing.
But after Ron Howard’s Dark Tower and Guillermo del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness, it’s just one more sign that no project, even a seemingly guaranteed blockbuster with big names and reliable filmmakers behind it, is safe from the axe…