August 2011: Disney’s big-budget reboot of THE LONE RANGER starring Armie Hammer as The Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto collapses due to budget issues and script problems. Word had it director Gore Verbinski wanted somewhere between 250 and 275mil to make the flick (which originally featured werewolves, supernatural elements, and a massive train shoot-out) and Disney balked. Arguments ensued and, thanks also to the then-recent box office failure of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, the project died.
October 2011: THE LONE RANGER rose from the grave with a new budget (215mil), a new script (one minus werewolves, supernatural elements, and massive train shoot-outs), and a March start date.
March 2012: Shooting begins. First official pic reveals a cool molded mask for The Ranger and a dead bird hat for Tonto. Things appear to be going smoothly.
June 2012: THR has discovered RANGER is weeks behind its 120-day shooting schedule and that the budget has ballooned back up to 250mil.
Some sources say wind and dust storms are to blame but most fingers seem to be pointed directly at Verbinski. Word has it he ordered his team to build a small fleet of full-scale locomotives for the film. As in, the trains that were supposedly deleted from the script in order to get the budget under control are apparently still in the movie and have been built from scratch rather than just using existing ones. From scratch! FROM SCRATCH!!
Sorry for freaking out but this is ridiculous. Disney needs to reign in this pic in before they end up with another JOHN CARTER situation. I mean, seriously, THE LONE RANGER was always a hard sell. Armie Hammer is an unproven lead, the Western genre is basically dead, the source material a little too sincere and goody-goody. Only “wild card” here is Depp and even he occasionally fails to connect at the box office. Did you see THE RUM DIARY? THE TOURIST? DARK SHADOWS? Didn’t think so.
Should be VERY interesting to see how this plays out when THE LONE RANGER rides into theaters on July 3rd, 2012.