In a developing story, sources have told The Hollywood Reporter that Disney has shut down production of The Lone Ranger. The decision comes as a direct result of the studio clashing with mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer over the budget for the tentpole, which already had a December 21, 2012 release date in place.
What’s interesting is that this comes three months after Bruckheimer gave the studio another billion-dollar grosser in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Overall, the franchise has grossed over $3.5 billion worldwide.
The Lone Ranger was thought to have the potential to be another winning franchise for the studio. Johnny Depp was to have been the headline attraction, despite playing The Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto. The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer was slated to be the titular hero. And Gore Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films (and most recently Rango) was to helm the picture.
But the studio had concerns and rightfully so. The budget Disney gave Verbinski was one that had the director balking. Also, westerns aren’t strong money-earners. Johnny Depp may be the biggest attraction in the world when he’s in pirate garb, but even him in a western environment doesn’t necessarily equate success. Just look at Cowboys & Aliens. Even names like Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Iron Man director Jon Favreau couldn’t light the box office on fire.
So we are left with a number of questions. Some of the what-if variety. Will this dustup be enough for Johnny Depp to hold out in reprising his role as Capt. Jack Sparrow in another POTC adventure? Also, with Disney already pouring $250 million into John Carter, a sci-fi fantasy adventure without a proven lead in Taylor Kitsch (TV’s Friday Night Lights, Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and probably another $200 million into Oz: The Great and Powerful, perhaps the studio should reevaluate what projects it invests heavily.
Though something else to consider is Jerry Bruckheimer’s cold streak, POTC franchise aside, when it comes to making a hit film for the Mickey Mouse house. Since 2006, he’s produced the features Glory Road, Deja Vu, G-Force, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Of those, National Treasure: BOS was a sequel to a hit movie and both Apprentice and Prince of Persia were thought to be franchise starters. Also, all films except for Glory Road took in more overseas than in the States.
To be honest, Bruckheimer might as well as be better off having his brand with a different studio. When Don Simpson was still living they had a six picture stretch in the ’80s with Paramount (the same studio that still distributes such Bruckheimer-produced TV shows as CSI and The Amazing Race). Since 1994, Bruckheimer has had a long standing relationship with Disney, though a few times he would work with Sony Pictures (Bad Boys franchise and Black Hawk Down) and Warner Bros. (Kangaroo Jack).
Considering that The Lone Ranger is a project that Depp has been involved since 2008, I’m sure the film will get done in some form or fashion. As to whether or not Bruckheimer will bolt once his POTC commitments are done – who knows?
Tags: Disney, Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, Johnny Depp, The Lone Ranger
Source: The Hollywood Reporter