“Hi-ho, Silver! Away!” Disney’s Lone Ranger film may not be dead after all. According to new reports, Disney has given director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer a week to bring the project to a more reasonable budget.

As we reported last week, Disney canceled The Lone Ranger after the film’s budget bloomed to an unbelievable $250 million. At the time, everyone was scratching their head wondering how a Western (even a Verbinski Western) could be so expensive. Earlier this week, we found out why: werewolves (or, more accurately, supernatural computer-generated werewolves).

Needless to say, the thought of The Lone Ranger and Tonto going all Twilight on us wasn’t very appealing to anyone, especially since it meant the Johnny Depp-starring film wouldn’t get made at all. Luckily, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the werewolf angle has now been cut thanks to Disney’s ultimatum.

Of course, it’s going to take a lot more than a few silver bullets to save The Lone Ranger. As THR reports, there are still plenty of big action set-pieces that are costing the film major dollars, including one that a source describes as “the biggest train sequence in film history.” Can Verbinski bring the budget down on the film without giving up his action scenes? So far, he’s been able to knock the film down to between $242-$244 million.

If Verbinski can’t rein in the budget, and it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to bring it down to the $215-$220 million budget that Disney wants, the project will either be canceled or redeveloped with a new director. If it’s the latter, it’s unclear whether Johnny Depp will stay on-board.

Depp and Verbinski worked closely together on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, so it’s possible that Depp would drop out if Verbinski was forced off the project. However, Depp also has a close relationship with Disney, and has been attached to this project for a number of years, so it’s possible he may stick through no matter what.

Whatever the case, one thing is for certain. If Depp does decide to leave the project, it’s as good as dead. There are only a few movie stars in Hollywood who can get a major project off the ground and Depp is one of them. Without a big-time star, it’s hard to imagine Disney making enough money to justify this film.

If Gore Verbinski is kicked off the project, will Johnny Depp follow?

All things considered, it might be best for Disney to walk away from The Lone Ranger. While the movie has blockbuster potential, it would have to make a ton of money to be profitable. The Hollywood Reporter article claims that the film would have to make at least $800 million worldwide after marketing and backend payments to Depp, Verbinski, and Bruckheimer just to turn a profit.

What do you think of Disney’s ultimatum? If Verbinski can cut the budget down to Disney standards, would you be interested in seeing it?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter