After almost being cancelled over budgetary issues, Disney has finally given the go ahead to their long in-development The Lone Ranger. Production is set to begin on February 6.
The film reunites Johnny Depp with his Pirates Of The Caribbean director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. While that trio had earned over $2 billion with the first three Pirates films, the studio was balking at the projected $250 million price tag for the adaption of the iconic western character. In the wake of the science-fiction-western genre mashup Cowboys & Aliens flopping at the box office, Disney halted pre-production on Lone Ranger in August. Bruckheimer and Verbinski set to work cutting the film’s budget down to a point where Disney felt more secure in giving a greenlight to the film, with a reported goal of somewhere in the neighborhood of $215 million.
Armie Hammer is still set to star in the film as the masked Texas Ranger who fights for justice after his lawman brother is savagely gunned down by outlaws with Depp as his faithful friend Tonto.
The Lone Ranger is one of three upcoming blockbusters that Disney is heavily betting on. Their live-action adaption of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s pulp hero John Carter which is set to come out next March is looking to cost some $250 million or more while Sam Raimi’s Oz, The Great And Powerful currently in production seems like a bargain with only a $200 million price tag.
Although there is no concrete news, it is doubtful that the film’s original release date of next December 21st will stand firm. A fall start date would have allowed enough time to get things finished, but starting in February doesn’t leave enough of room to comfortably finish the film in time to met that date. Expect the release date to be pushed into 2013.