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'The Lone Ranger' Is Over Budget & Behind Schedule With Rewrites Already Underway

by Kevin Jagernauth
June 13, 2012 9:45 AM
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Armie Hammer Johnny Depp The Lone Ranger

Well, you can't blame Disney for at least trying. Last year, already sensing that "John Carter" was going to be a costly disaster (which it turned out to be), Disney began tightening the reins on the other big expensive tentpole movie they had in development, "The Lone Ranger." And they had reason to be worried. Originally budgeted at $250 million, the studio forced director Gore Verbinksi and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to scale it back to $215 million, with some of the more razzle dazzle setpieces and sequences either cut out completely or reconfigured, and principal cast and filmmakers all taking pay cuts (though with more promised if the movie iss a hit). Once the studio was happy, the film was back on track, but it looks the reputation Verbinski earned on the 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' films (for sending costs soaring) is being bolstered once again.

THR reports that production on "The Lone Ranger" is already over budget and schedule, with the cost now rising to the $250 million figure that Disney had wanted to avoid in the first place. Now, not everything is Verbinski's fault. Though the picture, which kicked off production in February, was slated for a lengthy 120-day shoot, wind and duststorms caused some delays and damage to the sets. However, it seems Verbinski's ambition for the movie is coming up against the studio's desire to keep costs down. Apparently old timey trains are "a huge element" to the film, with Verbinski choosing to build new locomotives from scratch rather than using old models that are available. But moreover, even with filming happening, the trade reports that rewrites are happening and Verbinski is being asked to cut scenes out to try and keep things contained.

A number of interesting factors are at play here. Firstly, there was a point last year when the movie was being reconfigured that Disney wanted to oust Verbinski, only for his job to be saved by the very loyal Johnny Depp who essentially wouldn't make the film without him. But is Verbinski playing with fire here? If "The Lone Ranger" turns into a massive hit, everyone will forget about the difficulties in making the movie, but if it bombs or even underperforms, Verbinski could not only see himself not getting any further gigs at Disney, other studios might be wary as well of giving him an expensive project to helm. Meanwhile, it still strikes us as odd that Disney would want to scale back scenes and sequences from a big summer movie, whose sole reason for existing (in most cases), is to provide a gigantic spectacle. It's a tightrope they're walking, but if "The Lone Ranger" doesn't bring the thrills the way audiences expect at the mulitplex, many will wonder why Disney may have prevented the movie from being all it could be. Finally, last fall it was reported that if the film went over budget, Bruckheimer's shingle Bruckheimer Films would have to pay for any overages in budget...there's no mention of that in the trade report, but we wonder if it's still the case, and if that could be causing additional friction on the set...

All this being said, the footage so far apparently points to a movie that some say will see Depp giving a kick to the western genre in the same way he did for pirate movies. And while audiences may not care for his indie films, when Depp goes blockbuster, everyone wants to see what kind of wackiness he's up to. As we pointed out in the latest update on the woes surrounding "World War Z," the average moviegoer doesn't pay attention to this stuff -- "Men In Black III" had disaster written all over it and is now one of the biggest money earners of the year. And Depp was able to bring the thorougly awful "Alice In Wonderland" to a billion dollars worldwide, so anything is possible. In short, there is still a long, long way to go until the film's July 3, 2013 release date, but there is no doubt the road to get there will be a bumpy one.

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  • holly | June 16, 2012 11:03 AMReply

    Depp is an over rated diva

  • Ari | June 14, 2012 1:55 AMReply

    None of the Hollywood Reporter story was from any kind of reliable source. It was all "insiders" who refuse to give their names. This is how rumors escalate. Someone posts unverifed "rumors" and other sites pick up the ball and run. Pretty soon, it's all looked at as facts. Very poor reporting.

  • Lee | June 14, 2012 1:50 AMReply

    I'm already prepared for the worst.

  • Mr. Ford | June 14, 2012 1:44 AMReply

    Depp is a brilliant and worldwide popular actor. When he is on the field anything could be possible. I think "The Lone Ranger" director and producer doing great job reconfiguring this movie once again. Thanks

  • Mr Anonymous | June 13, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    Another fucking disaster alongside World War Z. Expect another John Mars style flop. Script re-writes should be banned when any film is in production. If you do not have a full A-B-C working script then you should NOT go in front of cameras until you do. Basic common sense!

  • Russell | June 13, 2012 6:13 PM

    If script rewrites were banned, no movies would ever get made. From Se7en to Annie Hall, every movie goes under some type of rewrite before the final produced product is realized --- either just a couple of scenes or entire structures of the film.

    Disney is just having a string of very costly screw-ups happening one after the other.

  • PapushiSun | June 13, 2012 1:20 PMReply

    "that some say will see Depp giving a kick to the western genre"

    I think Django Unchained is far more likely to do that.

  • Huffy | June 13, 2012 10:47 AMReply

    When is Hollywood going to realize that people don't give two shits about westerns any more? I'm a massive western fan but for most young people they're old, archaic relics. Quality ones targeting older demographics can do well (3:10 to Yuma, True Grit) but to throw money at a western on this scale after how well Wild Wild West and Cowboys and Aliens preformed takes some balls. Or a lack of brains. Of course this has Depp but if Dark Shadows is any indication people are growing tired of his schtick.

  • Huffy | June 13, 2012 11:15 AM

    Did you read anything I wrote? I even mentioned that True Grit did well because A) It was on a much smaller scale and B) It was aimed at an older demographic more likely to be familiar with the genre. Expecting the teenage demographic to turn out in droves for one is a much dicier proposition even with a Scifi/fantasy gimmick as Universal will attest to.

  • Edward Davis | June 13, 2012 10:51 AM

    The Coen Brothers' dark, dramatic Western, True Grit: $251 million worldwide.

  • joe | June 13, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    Verbinksi is a good director .I trust to him and Depp.

  • Christ | June 13, 2012 10:20 AMReply

    What the hell is wrong with these Hollywood hacks lately? Trouble much?

  • cirkusfolk | June 13, 2012 10:14 AMReply

    250 million? Thats the same budget as The Dark Knight Rises and The Dark Knight Rises this is not. I'm gonna go ahead and call flop here...Wild Wild West anyone?

  • Raz Cunningham | June 13, 2012 10:09 AMReply

    This just seems like "The Green Hornet" again in so many ways. Stories like this for Projects like this always just seem like a big "F*ck You" to the indie world. However, it's also reassuring to know that with all their money, their solutions aren't any better. I started out working on Studio films- they lack that sense of community problem solving.

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