Phillip Noyce Leaves HUNTER KILLER; Will THE LONE RANGER Ride without Gore Verbinski?

     August 22, 2011

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We have a few director-related stories for you this morning.  First up, Moviehole is reporting that Phillip Noyce (Salt) has left the submarine action-thriller Hunter Killer.  Noyce had been officially on board since February, but apparently just realized that the story—which is about an American sub commander and a Navy SEAL team that must rescue the Russian president and defeat a renegade admiral who’s attempting a coup—was too similar to his previous films (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger).  He’ll now turn his focus to the time-travel romance Timeless and newly-announced project, Above Suspicion, a thriller written by Chris Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning).  We previously reported that Noyce was also attached to a remake of Bloodsport, an adaptation of Tim Winton’s Dirt Music, and the drama Our Wild Life.

Hit the jump for more intrigue revolving around The Lone Ranger.

Gore Verbinski Rango premiereWe previously reported that Gore Verbinski’s adaptation of The Lone Ranger had come to an abrupt halt over budget issues.  The movie had a cast lined-up, led by Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Ranger, but Disney wanted to cut the budget down from $250 million to $215 – $220 million.  However, there seemed to be some friction in getting Verbinski to sign off on cutting that $30 – 35 million from his movie.

Now Disney chairman Rich Ross tells Deadline “I’m hoping to do it. I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry [Bruckheimer] and Johnny more than me so we’ll see how it works.”  So that’s the star and the producer…and no director, who’s usually considered to be an important participant in most movies.  However, Verbinski may be the key to keeping Depp on board since the actor has made four movies with the director and Disney wants to keep arguably the world’s biggest movie star happy.

Personally, I’m wondering if there’s a resolution in the near future.  Disney can’t keep dragging its feet on the project since it will undoubtedly be a tentpole for 2013, but with John Carter and Oz the Great and Powerful already bearing $250 million and $200 million budgets, respectively, it’s easy to understand the studio’s caution.

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