Disney Shoots Down 'The Lone Ranger' Over $200 Million+ Budget

by Kevin Jagernauth
August 13, 2011 3:36 AM
9 Comments
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Johnny Depp may have the Midas touch in Hollywood but it seems even Captain Jack Sparrow has his limits over at the mouse house.

In a rather surprising and shocking announcement -- but not surprisingly delivered when nearly everybody has left their offices and headed home for the weekend -- Deadline reveals that Disney has pulled the plug on the long-gestating, top priority "The Lone Ranger." Why? Apparently, for reasons we can't fathom, the filmmakers couldn't bring the budget down to $200 million, a price tag Disney was willing to live with. Instead, the costs started at $250 million and while brought down to $232 million, the budget wasn't trimmed enough so Disney simply said, "No thanks." But seriously, what the fuck were they spending that money on?

Set to be directed by Gore Verbinksi, it certainly wasn't the cast that was the issue as besides Depp, it was made up of up-and-comers, character actors or respected veterans like Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson and Ruth Wilson with Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale and Helena Bonham Carter all said to be circling roles. We can't imagine what in the world an adaptation of "The Lone Ranger" required $200 million for unless it was set in outer space or under water, but clearly, Disney wasn't comfortable, even with money man Johnny Depp leading the charge. But this isn't even the most shocking bit of news.

According to Mike Fleming, the studio is also concerned about recent expenditures as the budget for "John Carter" has apparently ballooned to nearly $300 million due to "extensive reshoots" (Disney reps insist this is wrong and the budget is $250 million). Not only that, "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is also carrying a price tag of $200 million (although, in that case, the budget makes a bit more sense). Right now, the studio is bleeding cash. Also likely factoring into the decision to drop "The Lone Ranger" is that the film, slated for a December 21, 2012 release, would have squared off against "The Hobbit" which likely would have been a losing gamble. So what happens now? No one knows. It could be shopped elsewhere or made down the road with a smaller budget, but Depp usually has a few dozen projects to choose from at any given moment, so he'll probably assess before making any decisions. But we would presume casting would need to start all over again if this ever sees a restart.

At any rate, it seems everyone is belt-tightening in Hollywood. "At the Mountains of Madness," "The Dark Tower" and now this mark three high-profile projects whose soaring budgets and/or ambitious concepts have made studios wary. Does this mean the days of big-budget filmmaking are over? Not really. It just means the days of high concept fare might be limited (such as "Cowboys & Aliens") while surer bets are more likely to get the green light ("Austin Powers 4"). In fact, Disney would probably be more likely to throw $200 million after another 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie than an adaptation of a corny TV show, and it just so happens a "Pirates 5" script is in the can....

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More: Films, Film Studios, TV Remakes, The Lone Ranger

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9 Comments

  • Tazz3 | August 14, 2011 10:34 AMReply

    Why is there all these printed swear words? Simple decency should play some role in everyone's thinking.

  • Mr. Small | August 13, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    Why do they insist on regurgitating this stuff? Do something interesting. I'd rather stick my finger down my throat than to see more recycled bloated crap that "hollywood' keeps churning out.

  • kintaro.west | August 13, 2011 8:11 AMReply

    I'm disappointed actually by this news cause I looking forward to this! They passed on Oblivion and this movie, but bankroll OZ, John Carter (soon be and for god knows why...like we fucking asked for it) Pirates? Send John Carter to Netflix, call off Pirates 5 and stop Mr. SpiderMan 3 from making another shitty movie!

  • Huffy | August 13, 2011 6:41 AMReply

    $250 million?!? Are you fucking kidding me? That's James Cameron money. The fact that Disney was actually willing to go forward with the $200 million price tag is even more shocking. This is a franchise that no one under the age of fifty is familiar with and westerns just aren't popular with the under-25 set, which is the group that the film would have needed to attract to turn a profit. This trend of bloating budgets just because the last $200 million dollar movie did well is going to have to come to an end sometime.

  • padre | August 13, 2011 6:35 AMReply

    They should have canned OZ instead. That movie sounds like a bomb and JOHN CARTER is a surefire mega-bomb that looks terrible.

    Taylor Kitsch is a dead man walking. His reps have done something colossally stupid and have him fronting too many big films in too short a time, all without the audience feeling they had any say-so on him. Audiences hate it when they feel someone is being shoved on them and ALWAYS push back. Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Jake G, and more. All fine actors, handsome and charismatic men. If the audience had been allowed to "discover" them and let them grow in an organic way, all would be A-listers today. Instead they were force fed to the audience, and the public vomited them back out again and flushed them down the toilet. Kitsch is next.

  • hank | August 13, 2011 5:32 AMReply

    what were they paying $250 Million for? Depp's salary and a shit load of explosions. Duh.

  • Laura Schmitt | August 13, 2011 5:08 AMReply

    ENOUGH with the sequels, prequels, and shitty franchises

  • Yojimbo | August 13, 2011 4:46 AMReply

    Probably the smartest move by any studio in the last five years. If a film needs to cost anything near 100 million dollars it ceases to be about story and more about effects. If a movie costs $200 million all the executives who green lighted the film need to be given performance slips. If two films they green light do not recoup their investment, they lose their jobs. That includes every executive regardless of stature. For the highest executives they are on a three strike rule, they surrender all options and golden parachute money if three films fail to recoup the entire investment with profit.. How many failed amusement park rides need to be made before a studio realizes that they need quality craftsmanship instead of circus film making .

  • KitCon | August 13, 2011 4:12 AMReply

    Nice work on the Depp - Tonto photoshop. But that Hammer - Lone Ranger photo ....
    I was actually looking forward to this more than Dark Shadows esp. as Depp was intent on reversing the image American Indians had from previous films. Maybe it was the poor showing of the similarly western themed Cowboys & Aliens that made Disney balk at the budget.

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