Director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp are ready to team up again on another period adventure tale. This time, however, it won’t involve swashbucklers and magical creatures; rather, it’ll feature action out in the Old West, with a possibly delusional Texan Ranger and his American Indian compatriot Tonto (Depp) – otherwise known as Walt Disney Picture’s Lone Ranger movie.

Disney has gone ahead and selected an official release date for its new Depp vehicle, which is now set to hit theaters before the all-but-inevitable Pirates of the Caribbean 5 arrives – thanks in part to Depp (basically) wanting to take a breather from playing his iconic pirate character, Jack Sparrow, for now.

Deadline has learned that Lone Ranger is now scheduled to reach theaters on December 21st, 2012 [insert obligatory joke about the apocalypse here]. That means the project will reach theaters a week after Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and is going to open against the likes of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi adaptation and Judd Apatow’s This Is Forty (a.k.a. his Knocked Up spinoff).

Up to now, early talk about the new cinematic incarnation of The Lone Ranger has left fans of the old-fashioned cowboy hero less than pleased. Passing over details like the removal of “The” from the title, or questions about exactly how much Cherokee heritage Depp really has, the red flag for a lot of people has been that Verbinski wants to rework the Ranger’s story into a more unconventional adventure tale about a man (Armie Hammer) whose sanity may not be a given.

Over the course of directing the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and this year’s Rango, Verbinski has established himself as a filmmaker who is adept at making big-budget popcorn movies – but who often likes to throw incongruous philosophical and sometimes surreal material into the mix. That he seems intent on doing the same with Lone Ranger – rather than delivering a more straightforward western adventure tale – has left a number of fans either puzzled or simply frustrated. The question of whether or not Verbinski’s vision will actually work is another matter.

We shall see how it all turns out when Lone Ranger hits theaters on December 21st, 2012.

Source: Deadline