Back in August, we heard reports that Disney was fixing to shut down Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger due to its extraordinary budget (upwards of $250 million). Verbinski, along with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, were amenable – offering to deliver their film closer to a more affordable $215 million. Production’s been underway since late February and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, things aren’t going as planned:
“Insiders say the movie, which began shooting Feb. 28 in New Mexico, is not only running days or possibly weeks behind its 120-day shooting schedule, it’s also over its revised budget. Several sources say the effects-heavy Lone Ranger is now back at its original cost of $250 million, while one source close to the production says it has surpassed that figure.”
The piece goes on to say that Disney is pressing Verbinski to cut some of the costlier scenes, a move no doubt intended to suppress the bleeding.
Disney has a real situation on their hands. They’re in a transitional phase with studio head Rich Ross’ removal a few months back. I’d imagine new chief Alan Horn (formerly President and COO at Warner Bros.) is still getting accustomed to the Mouse House’s way of doing things, making it easier for Gore and Bruckheimer’s production to get off track and out of control.
All of this sounds very similar to John Carter – another recent Disney film with a notoriously inflated budget (that probably cost Ross his job, in part). Complicating matters is the fact that this has also been something of a passion project for Johhny Depp, whose role as Native-American sidekick Tonto is a performance he’s been angling towards for quite a long time. I suspect that if Depp were playing the Ranger himself (Armie Hammer is in the role), many of Disney’s concerns would float away. That’s no disrespect to Hammer mind you, but Disney’s biggest star not sharing the name on the title card makes for a confusing way to sell a picture – you can bet that The Lone Ranger will be marginalized in his own trailer.
This has proven to be a very bizarre take on a character that most moviegoers have limited familiarity with anyways. It’s been reported that the film’s plot is firmly entrenched in the supernatural. At one time the production even called for ghost-coyotes (great band name), which have since been 86’d. Regardless of the film Verbinski, Bruckheimer and Depp had intended, this is the second time Disney has stepped in to put their foot down – so it wouldn’t be a total shock if the team behind Pirates of the Caribbean takes a very real hit if the film proves to be a hatchet job.
Even with all of John Carter‘s problems, Andrew Stanton and Co. delivered a film that was at the very least serviceable (if not particularly profitable). Do you think Verbinski and his team can do the same? Or is this another in a line of live-action struggles at Disney?