Disney’s The Lone Ranger, their adaption of the classic radio series starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, almost never got a greenlight due to an astronomical $250 million budget and concerns that director Gore Verbinski would exceed that amount. Well, after some trimming of the screenplay, Verbinski managed to get the budget down to $215 million and Disney gave the go-ahead. Unfortunately, while they seemingly solved one problem, they weren’t able to fix the second as The Hollywood Reporter is quoting unnamed sources closet to the film’s production that the project has now gone overbudget to a point that has brought it back to at least the original $250 million price tag.
The cost overruns stem from the on location shooting running days perhaps even weeks behind schedule.The delays were in part due to inclement weather that not only delayed filming but also damaged sets. An additional cost came from Verbinski’s insistence on building props he may not have had to build –
Period trains are a huge element in the movie, say sources, and Verbinski opted for the production to construct its own locomotives from scratch rather than employ existing railroad vehicle.
At this point, I couldn’t help to start to be reminded of another runaway production of a western – the infamous Heaven’s Gate. Shot by The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino, the film’s original budget of $11.6 million skyrocketed to nearly $40 million mostly due to Cimino reshooting scenes upwards of 50 times. The film would only barely pull $3 million in ticket sales and would drive studio United Artists into bankruptcy.
Now I don’t think that when it does finally hit theaters The Lone Ranger will bomb as badly. Depp’s name on the marquee will definitely sell some tickets even if the film isn’t that good. (Witness Alice In Wonderland.) But it will certainly impact Disney’s chances of making a profit on the film, which some would say are already pretty low. And while Disney has been having a rough time with their large budget tent pole pics (Prince Of Persia and John Carter), I don’t think that Lone Ranger will be quite the studio wrecker that Deer Hunter turned out to be.