Disney Sets Rebudgeted 'The Lone Ranger' for May 2013

Thursday, 13 October 2011 08:12 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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Disney Sets Rebudgeted 'The Lone Ranger' for May 2013

Since August, Disney's The Lone Ranger has been embroiled in a surprisingly public and seemingly endless budgetary retooling, ever since the studio put preproduction on hold due to an untenably massive budget in the neighborhood of $250 million.  While it looked for some time like the virtually guaranteed blockbuster might not happen, the last several weeks saw promising reports assuring the world that the creative team, including stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, director Gore Verbinski, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer were working to bring the budget down to level Disney found acceptable.  Well, they're done just that, and Disney has officially announced a new May 31, 2013 release date for The Lone Ranger.

That release date was made official over at The Hollywood Reporter, and it marks a shift of just about five months from the original December 21, 2012.  The previously-announced date was predicated on production getting underway in New Mexico this Fall, but the negotiations over budget, which included alterations to the story and action setpieces, has necessitated a new start date in February of next year, according to Variety.

The Lone Ranger, which will star Hammer as the masked western hero who has endured since his serialized radio debut in 1933, while Depp will play his sidekick Tonto.  Verbinski, Depp, and Bruckheimer all previously teamed on the massively successful first three installments in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and early drafts of the screenplay were written by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott, the writing duo responsible for those films.  Subsequent drafts are written by Justin Haythe, and in order to reduce the budget, certain costly visual effects sequences were apparently reworked.

Perhaps more importantly, the core players agreed to reduce their upfront fees in order to get the movie made at a budget of $215 million.  Verbinski, Depp, Hammer, and Bruckheimer all reportedly reduced their fees by 20%, and also to defer selected payments until the film actually crosses certain marks commercially. 

Additionally, mega-producer Bruckheimer will cover any costs if the production goes over budget.  Bruckheimer, a driving force behind films such as Top Gun, National Treasure, The Rock, and, of course, the Pirates films, shared his enthusiasm for The Lone Ranger's new lease on life from his Twitter handle @BRUCKHEIMERJB, tweeting, " #THELONERANGER....and Tonto...will ride again. Excited for another adventure with Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski. Hi-Yo Silver, Away."

Given that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the first in the series not directed by Verbinski, made more than a billion dollars globally this summer, Disney was naturally eager to kickstart another franchise with Depp, and he's been involved with this one since 2008.  Depp and Verbinski cut their teeth in the western genre back in the spring with Verbinski's animated feature Rango, in which Depp voiced the title character.

Variety also confirms that Tom Wilkinson and Ruth Wilson will still be appearing in the film, despite the rescheduled start date.  No word, however, on Dwight Yoakam and Helena Bonhan Carter, both of whom were associated with the project before Disney put a stop to set construction and whatnot.

So, months after reports that Disney pulled the plug on the inevitably blockbuster, The Lone Ranger is ready to ride yet again, with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer as the heroic duo.  Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer deliver the film to a mutiplex near you on May 31, 2013.  Always seemed like more of a summer movie anyways, didn't it?

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