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.
According 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.