After a public struggle between Disney and director Gore Verbinski to bring down the budget for The Lone Ranger, it appears the two sides have found a way to move forward and are eyeing an early 2012 start date. Deadline reports that in order for Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and star Johnny Depp (who is playing Tonto), “the cutting process has included the reworking of deals…and trimming the production budget and the long shoot.” It looks like Disney decided that they’d rather make an expensive movie with Depp and acquiesce to his demand of keeping Verbinski rather than scrapping the project all together. If you’re wondering what real star power looks like, that’s it.
Armie Hammer is still on board to play the title character and Ruth Wilson (Luther) is still likely to play the female lead. It’s unknown if other actors who were cast—Helena Bonham Carter, Dwight Yoakam, Barry Pepper, and Tom Wilkinson—are still on board or if the new start date has created a scheduling conflict. It’s also unknown if Disney will try to hold onto its original December 21, 2012 release date, but I think that’s a highly-optimistic time crunch for a movie that with a budget of $215 million. Mr. Verbinski loves his special effects and making FX houses work overtime to get the movie finished by December will only cost Disney more money.