EXCLUSIVE: For the first time since Deadline broke the shocking news that Disney had pulled the plug because of a huge budget on the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, insiders tell me that things are starting to look up for the film and there is now optimism that the picture might actually get made. Back on August 12, Disney derailed a film that had a December 21, 2012, release date because the budget had gone to the stratosphere. Insiders feared the film could cost $275 million, though my sources at that time said the filmmakers had already taken $10 million out and got it to $232 million. No matter which of those numbers you embrace, that’s a lot of dough for a Western, and it’s probably not coincidence this standoff happened after the mega-budget Cowboys & Aliens tanked, and proved to be one of the summer’s biggest debacles.
Disney pulled the plug and initially demanded the film be brought down to $200 million; producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Verbinski have been trying for a number closer to $215 million. Deadline has reported Depp won’t make the movie without Verbinski, his director on the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films and Rango, so it is an all or nothing proposition because this film would never get made without the world’s most bankable male star. Verbinski’s difficult challenge has been to pare costs while retaining the spectacle that made the movie worth making in the first place. Bruckheimer, Depp and Verbinski have all made salary concessions to get the film made. We should have an answer shortly, but don’t be surprised if The Lone Ranger rides again.
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Shocker! Disney Halts ‘The Lone Ranger’ With Johnny Depp And Gore Verbinski