THE LONE RANGER Budget Spirals Out of Control; Filming Undergoing Rewrites and Running Behind Schedule

     June 13, 2012

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Last summer, Disney halted The Lone Ranger until the production was willing to reduce the budget from $250 million to $215 million.  After removing sequences and principal players Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director Gore Verbinski agreed to rework their deals (less salary up front, more on the back-end), the trio reached the $215 million budget, and Disney gave the movie a green light.  So naturally, the production has ballooned back up to $250 million if not more.

Hit the jump for more on what ails The Lone Ranger, which also stars Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, and Helena Bonham Carter. The film is due out July 3, 2013.

the-lone-ranger-tontoAccording to THR, the film “is not only running days or possibly weeks behind its 120-day shooting schedule, it’s also over its revised budget.”  Running behind schedule isn’t entirely the fault of the production, as there have been “severe weather disruptions, including wind and dust storms that damaged the pricey set.”  However, Verbinski still knows how to drive up a price tag, and sources say that rather than refitting existing train cars, the director decided to construct his own period trains, which are reportedly a huge element in the film.

I’m sure Disney is already having flashbacks to John Carter even though The Lone Ranger has Depp as the lead (although Dark Shadows‘ box office proves he’s not as invulnerable as he once was).   Rewrites are currently underway to combat the rising budget, and new Disney head Alan Horn (his predecessor Rich Ross gave the project a green light) will have to figure out how to proceed on his first big challenge as the company’s new Chairman.  With John Carter, the studio eventually hit a tipping point where they felt they couldn’t pull the plug or replace director Andrew Stanton.  Disney is unlikely to yank Verbinski especially since he has the support of Depp (who wouldn’t make the movie without his Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango director), they studio doesn’t want another movie where the only thing any industry reporter can talk about is the price tag to the neglect of the film’s actual quality.

The only upside for Disney is that those who have seen some footage say “Verbinski has a chance to do for Westerns what he did for pirate movies — make the genre popular internationally.”  He also has the same tough sale ahead of him.  Back in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl had to overcome the stigma of being based on an amusement park ride.  It became a hit based not only on the marketing, but on strong word of mouth.  It’s going to take that same combination to help a movie based on a 1950s serial western.

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  • Realistic

    Collider/Goldberg – lay off Depp.

    Your are always bad mouthing him/his films. You clearly don’t like the man, are you making it your mission to provide bad publicity for everything he does.

    You suck, loser!

  • Tey

    I respect Collider for criticizing Depp. I mean there are far a lot more actors today who are as talented if not more than Johnny himself.

  • rukia

    How is it unfair? Depp hasn’t done well in over a decade.

  • l4bomb4

    I don’t understand the $250 million price tag. I remember people scoffing at the notion of Avatar exceeding $400 million. Clearly this movie is no where near the production quality of Avatar…at best it seems like a gimmicky movie with Depp playing dress-up with some idiotic accent making the main protagonist (the Lone Ranger) out to be a racist. Isn’t that why Depp took this role, so he could stomp all over the notion that the hero was honest and good…and instead replace that image with an indian counterpart who is in charge and every bit as equal (if not moreso than the Lone Ranger himself). Might as well call it Tonto and the hijinx of the Lone Ranger….and how Tonto saves his ass everytime. Seems like a movie that should easily stay under 150 million. So sick of divas and half-assed thought up scripts/movie re-makes based on half-assed tv shows. NOONE can relate to the Lone Ranger anymore…and I had Lone Ranger toys when I was 6. So if I’m not jacked-up about this film, then I really don’t see how America at-large is.

    • Muh

      What makes you think Depp is doing this to make The Lone Ranger out to be a racist? You seem like one of those old-ass white dudes who are mad that they don’t run every single thing anymore. And how do you know they movie could stay under 150 million, do you know what they’re doing? Do you know what sets and efefcts and action they have? If not, then what the fuck do you know?

    • EvolNYR

      Avatar = 90% CGI, The Lone Rangers = 10% CGI. Technically the production quality in this movie will be groundbreaking, showing “REAL BACKGROUNDS” for once. Incredible feat, just please watch their “Making of Lone Ranger” videos, you’ll get a better appreciation for this movie!!

    • EvolNYR

      Avatar = 90% CGI, The Lone Rangers = 10% CGI. Technically the production quality in this movie will be groundbreaking, showing “REAL BACKGROUNDS” for once. Incredible feat, just please watch their “Making of Lone Ranger” videos, you’ll get a better appreciation for this movie!!

  • Jeff

    I like Johnny but he has never been a box office draw unless he’s wearing a pirate costume. And often he does well with Tim Burton but it’s hit and miss. So “Dark Shadows” is not a shocker.

    • Jay

      Nobody would even want to watch Dark Shadows if not because of Johnny Depp. Do you think anybody will want to watch a film like that without a star like him and with strong competition from The Avengers? Dark Shadows would’ve made at least $300 million worldwide if not because it is opening right after The Avengers, who took in $100 million the second weekend. Dark Shadows wasn’t a very appealing film to begin with!

  • AlexHeyNa

    They should shut the movie down. If they can’t make a freakin’ Lone Ranger movie for under $200mil, they’re clearly going overboard and are just doing it because they want to. It’s the freaking Lone Ranger, not Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or some other big property that requires digital effects out the ass. And honestly, Johnny Depp really isn’t worth all the money he’s asking for. He’s fantastic in Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands. Other than that, he’s really not that great. And he definitely doesn’t fit the character of Tonto. Find someone else. Someone better AND cheaper.

    Disney, for your own sake, SHUT THE MOVIE DOWN.

    • A

      Couldn’t agree more. Who in the HELL is gonna even know what the Lone Ranger is?!?! Unless your over 55 right now. This is gonna bomb, and bomb HARD.

      • darrin

        this is gore verbinski people, this guy sold an audience on a crazy lizard , i pretty sure it would be much easier to sell the lone ranger. i am keeping a positive vibe cause this guy knows adventure, pirates 2 and 3 may not have the good script but on directing , gore knows how to deliver an experience

      • yeti murphy

        rango actually never made its budget back domestically. a lot of audiences thought it was far too bizarre and scary for young children, coupled with the fact that most westerns do not attract huge audiences. i dont think this movie will change anything about the latter. Armie Hammer is NOT a movie star, and the fact that he has a mask on wont help on that front. i agree with other posters, this movie should be killed before it’s too late

  • mattedscreen

    I love westerns, but this is getting nutty. You can’t go high concept with a simple western, as Cowboys and Aliens and Wild Wild West have proven. You can get clever like Westworld, or Outland, spin the archetypes but this movie is starting to smell of overthought and under developed. Action set pieces should be at the service of the story, not the other way around.

    • Daniel

      Glad to see everybody here on the filmmaker’s side. Guys, what if Verbinski is actually making an awesome western? Has anyone here seen the footage? No? Then can we hold off on the rush to judgment? You could lob the same criticisms at pirate movies before “Pirates of the Carribean” — high-concept ones don’t work; look at “Cutthtroat Island.” Right? Personally, I’m excited to see what the guy who made “Rango” will do with a big-budget, insane western. And honestly, who f***ing cares if Disney loses money on a crazy high-concept gamble? Worst that can happen: it sucks, we forget about it, life goes on. Best that can happen: it’s a bonkers thrill ride in the western genre, the first of its kind that works. All I know is, I’d rather bet on the director than the studio.

      • Sean

        I’d love for my cynicism to be proven wrong, but this project seems to epitomize everything that’s wrong with Hollywood right now.

        * Adapting a property no one was waiting to be adapted
        * Out of control spending which no one outside of the film industry understands
        * The token mega-star being attached to a role which they shouldn’t be playing

        The whole thing feels like the studio is out of touch with what people want.

        The director is out of touch with reality. $215 million is an enormous amount of money…and he needed $35 million more to make a Western.

        The star seems to be more interested in pay checks and amusing himself than doing something which truly makes sense.

      • mattedscreen

        Thats just it, if Verbinski is doing like what he did with Pirates, where the action sequences last for so long to no purpose or end, there’s no reason for it to cost that much. In the POTC some of those sword fights were so ridiculously paced, you could leave your seat, go to the bathroom, get more concessions and NOTHING would have happened or been resolved and still have another 10 minutes of fighting.

  • alk

    gosh, $250 million for a western!? Based on a tv show nobody under 55 will know of?
    i feel really bad for Gore, he created a marvelous thing with the Pirate movies, but this just doesn’t have the same going for it….
    what could possibly cause the budget to balloon back to $250 million? it should be no more than $90 million, tops.

  • Albert

    I smell a “John Carter” in Disney’s hands once again.
    Gosh, they didn’t learn anything, did they?

  • Deepak

    Who are these people who have seen footage and are saying that it’s gonna revolutionize the hybrid Western genre (or whatever the hell it belongs to)? People at the studio?

    I just don’t see how the hell a Western can cost THIS much money. Verbinski is a fantastic visual artist and he knows how to make fun movies, but his movies always lack compelling storylines to go along with them (Rango being an exception; I was never fond of the Pirates series).

    Disney needs to stop gambling on huge productions aimed for the PG-13 crowd — I guarantee you, no matter how cool a movie looks, any preteen-twenties guy will immediately lose most interest when he sees the title at the end of the trailer go “Disney’s (fill in the blank).” Imagine if it was “Disney’s The Avengers”… yikes.

    I hope the movie’s good, but at this point it’s tough to see how it’ll break even (at least stateside). And Johnny Depp needs to get back to making real movies where he’s not playing Tim Burton’s gothic alter-ego or Verbinski’s charming weirdo. Public Enemies was his best film and performance in years; I’m waiting for more like that…

    • 1

      Disney owns Marvel, Jackass. It was “Disney’s The Avengers.”

      • Jordan N.

        Owned.

      • Deepak

        Yeah no shit, the point was that if Disney had its name in the title, it wouldn’t be the third highest-grossing film of all-time.

  • Dave

    JUst write about the cool stuff. Don’t write this garbage to get traffic. Who cares?

  • junierizzle

    Man, what did Depp steal your girlfriend’s. Crazy hate on a Guy that just does movies and stays out of the spotlight.

  • Singularity

    Armie Hammer is still an untested property. He was good in Social Network… but as a sniveling yuppie.

    Despite seeming like a nice guy, I get a Hayden Christenson vibe from him, which doesn’t translate well into a movie career.

  • ozzie

    depp plays the same lame character in all his movies just like wil smith and jim carrey do … he hasn’t done any decent work in years.

  • Rich

    It irritates me when critics don’t do their homework. “Based upon a 1950′s serial western”??? Before the tv show, the LR was a hugely popular radio show, a series of 18 novels, several film serials, a comic strip that ran from the 30′s to the 70′s, a comic book that ran from the 40′s until the 70′s, etc. His comment is like saying that Superman was “based upon a 50′s tv show” or Tarzan was ‘based upon a 60′s tv series”. The Lone Ranger is one of the few iconic fictional characters (Zorro, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Robin Hood, Tarzan, etc.) whose notoriety spans generations and transcends national boundaries. Even the William Tell Overture is more commonly known as the “Lone Ranger theme”.

    • Lucas

      Too bad I never heard of him then. And I’m 35.
      But that only means that I would see ‘the lone ranger’ as a new character. If movies with entirely new characters can be good, than the “remake” of an old forgotten one obviously can be good too. Especially if they do their own thing with it. I just hope it feels modern.

  • Travis

    Pull the plug- it was a bad idea to begin with, only made worse by a $250+ million budget. It should have been made with a budget of between $75 million to $125 million in mind and directed by Martin Campbell (Mask of Zorro) instead. I’m a fan of the Lone Ranger and Tonto characters and find myself certain that the filmmakers have destroyed them- at least for the rest of my lifetime.

  • BrandonHeat07

    This is just hilarious… $250 million? Will it be anywhere near as entertaining as “The Good, the Bad, the Weird”? That one had a 10 million production budget and put most of the Hollywood westerns to shame…

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