Disney Cancels Johnny Depp’s ‘Lone Ranger’

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2011 at 4:54 am,

Lone Ranger Movie Cancelled Disney Cancels Johnny Depps Lone Ranger

One of the biggest properties in development at Disney was that of The Lone Ranger (with or without the “the”), a film that has long had Johnny Depp attached attached, with recent casting additions including Armie Hammer as the title character and supporting cast members to be played by Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper and Tom Wilkinson.

This new Lone Ranger remake was to be directed by Gore Verbinski, whose ideas for a new take on the character and story had long-time fans of the character on edge. They don’t have to worry any longer however, as Disney just put an end to the project. That’s right folks, The Lone Ranger isn’t happening anymore. Hi-ho, Silver, away (from theaters!)

Why would Disney cancel a movie starring money-maker Johnny Depp who made it rain gold for the studio with another Pirates of the Caribbean movie earlier this year which wasn’t even good (it made over a billion dollars)? Well, because he and other money makers cost too much money it seems.

According to Deadline’s scoop, Disney put an early end to the project due to its increasingly high budget, which was estimated to be upwards of $250 million, despite Disney loyalists Verbinski, Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer being involved. Apparently, the filmmakers were able to reduce it to $232 million, but Disney wanted it around $200 million or lower. How ridiculous it that?

How does a western,  a remake of The Lone Ranger, cost that much money to make? Transformers: Dark of the Moon didn’t even cost that much, and it’s a movie loaded with giant alien robots destroying the world, sporting some of the best special effects ever!

Lone Ranger movie cancellation reaction Disney Cancels Johnny Depps Lone Ranger

What I imagine Johnny Depp's facial expression to be in reaction to 'Lone Ranger' being cancelled.

The studio has already invested in several big budget tentpole risks, including John Carter, which they hope will launch another long-term franchise a la Pirates, and The Great and Powerful Oz, so due to scheduling, The Lone Ranger was the easiest for Disney to end from a business standpoint, at least for now. What happens next is still up in the air as the project can still get the greenlight in the future with a lower budget and it can even be offered to other studios if the players involved are game.

Or, perhaps studios are just shy of the Western genre at the moment with Cowboys & Aliens under-performing at the box office and the eagerly anticipated Dark Tower adaptation being canned by Universal Pictures before getting off the ground.

We’ve been reporting on this Lone Ranger project since early 2008, so it’s rather strange and unsettling to see it end all of a sudden, especially considering those involved (Depp’s been attached for three years!) and the work and hype already put into it. One thing’s for sure, and it’s that the costs associated with this movie need to be tightened up big time. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have turned a profit in theaters even at $250 million, but that’s just way too much money for this type of film.

We can only assume that Bruckheimer, Depp and perhaps even Verbinski will now focus on Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and use that money for another Captain Jack Sparrow adventure… Let’s hope Armie Hammer gets another career-making lead role elsewhere in the meantime.

Stay tuned as this develops and we’ll let you know when we hear from Disney!

The Lone Ranger was supposed to hit theaters on December 21st, 2012, but not anymore!


Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Deadline

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  1. I am royally pissed off about this. I was so looking forward to this movie…..a big epic Western! At least we get Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” in the meantime. I only hope that this project does not fully die out and it has new life somewhere and somewhere FAST! I’m mainly disappointed because I was so excited to see Armie Hammer lead a huge tentpole movie. Hopefully it’s not just wishful thinking and another studio will buy this ASAP.

  2. I feel bad for Armie… this isn’t the first big role he’s had for a movie that was cancelled.

  3. This is the single bit of good news
    I have read about this planned fiasco.
    The Lone Ranger has dodged a silver bullet.

    The budget for this film was as out of whack as
    Gore Verbinski’s bone-headed vision for The Lone Ranger.
    Putting things in perspective, True Grit had a budget of 38 million.

    Whatever was envisioned to spend upwards of 250 million on was all wrong.

    • I’m in full agreement.

      How exactly could a Hollywood studio even consider a $200+ million budget to begin with for that kind of movie?

      That movie could easily be made for $100 million or less. They could even make it for $50 million or less if they really wanted to.

      It just goes to show that Hollywood is run by a ship of fools. The first half of this year is proof.

      Just think. These people are paid big, big bucks to know their industry. And all the top executives are directly responsible for all the flops and lukewarm movies that have come out this year. But they’re too busy blaming everyone else.

      Even many of us here could see, from miles away, what was wrong with many of the big-budgeted flops that came out this summer. But, of course, we’re not big-wig corporate execs pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so our opinions don’t matter much.

      • With the way some movies have performed I don’t think they are going to be giving out hundreds of millions of dollars for movies just because actor A and director B happen to be attached to the project.

        • I and just about everyone else here aren’t paid a penny for our insights… we’re not Hollywood insiders… we don’t pull in six digit salaries… and yet many of us could see that many of the movies that came out this year (Green Lantern, Cowboys & Aliens, Sucker Punch, etc.) were going to be stinkers. And they were.

          Why in THE WORLD would a family Western cost anywhere near $200 million?? Why would it cost $250 million, Johnny Depp or not??

          And, besides, just watching the tastes of young people over the past several years, I could see they’re not so much about the star names as generations past. Give them a good hook and some belief in that hook by the people making the film, and you’ll have a hit. But too many movies nowadays ring false.

          I think a big reason why the Transformers movies do so well (despite being questionably bad in terms of quality) is because they have a wild-eyed director who taps into his inner child, who believes in the glossy, action-packed junk he’s pushing.

          Yes, of course it’s still Hollywood product, but too many other products coming out smell of corporate greed and manipulation. It’s more like the school teacher or principal who pulls out some low-budget, third-tier skateboarding video because he/she knows that “kids love skateboarding.” Might as well throw in the fake Bruce Lee (Li? Lo?) movie while you’re at it because “kids love kung fu.”

          • Maybe the studio people who make six figures are so out of touch they don’t realize that the money they are spending may not be worth it. The excuse of inflation goes only so far when these movies are costing way more then movies from ten years ago and are not of better quality for the money being spent.

            The idea that spending 200 million is going to bring in a return of 500-600 million sounds good but, the reality seems to be that a movies performing like that is the exception not the rule. 200 + million for a Western just because they are trying to sell it like another Pirates might have worked before this summer movie season. Now those people making six figures are probably in danger of losing their own insane salaries and have to be accountable for spending money on an investment that might not pay off.

  4. Contrary to skeptics, I felt all the pieces were indeed coming together for this. Verbinski has proven himself as a ‘master of all genres’ and coming right off of ‘Rango’ which really nailed the spirit of classic spaghetti westerns, the long standing working relationship with Depp and Bruckhimer.

    I’m let down by this. Guess I’ll have to re-watch Rango instead.

  5. This news is jumping the gun a bit. According to Variety, they are in discussions about the budget. Also, all this information is coming from unknown sources. It might be wise to wait until there is actual news from Disney or Bruckheimer.

  6. How in buggery does this film cost five times the amount of films like True Grit and 3:10 to Yuma? Hell, Cowboys & Aliens had an alien invasion and it’s still $100 million cheaper than that.

    Well, it’s about time Hollywood started gaining control of their spending, but $200 million is still far too much.

  7. I guess I have to wait for a red dead redemption flick and if it is ever made I want to see Karl Urban as John Marston

  8. A 250 million dollar budget for the LONE RANGER!! This is NOT Superman here, it’s a guy wearing a mask that rides on a HORSE! Now, I can imagine some of said budget would have been actor’s salaries but still 250 Million, for a WESTERN! Heck, I’d rather see a Zorro reboot.

  9. Disney is spending $300 million on JOHN CARTER OF MARS. That is going to be one of the biggest bombs in history. I can see how having so much money tied up in that and OZ have made Disney gun shy right now. But LONE RANGER sounded like a winner to me.

    • I agree. Carter isn’t going to do well at all. The first trailer was horrible and taking out ‘of Mars’ made it all even more confusing and underwhelming.

      • l likethat they took out the mars part of the title. it sounds ridiculous

      • I don’t think it will bomb if they advertise it well. I liked the first trailer and I think it will be an entertaining sci fi movie. I think it will be able to gather around 130-170 mill in its US run.

      • As they say in the corporate world, too many wheels turning to stop it. So, they’re going to throw in good money after bad, to fulfill all the contracts they signed.

        It looked ridiculous from the start, and I sense it’s going to bomb hard. With that big of a budget, it’s going to have to make, at the very least, $600 million to have made it all worth it.

    • I couldn’t believe that number for John Carter, but it’s true. That’s an insane amount of money for any kind of movie. It’s not like John Carter is a well known pop culture icon. I mean, Dark of the Moon cost $195 million.

      I’m looking forward to seeing John Carter because it looks like it could be an entertaining sci-fi film, but Disney’s going to have to do a lot of work to make that budget back. Depp & Bruckheimer seem like a surer bet.

      Having said that, $232 million for a western is outrageous too.

      • I don’t know where he has gotten 300 million from. From what i’ve read it’s 250. But that is still an outrages number. However with all the marketing it’ll probably reach 300 million. They need to marked the hell out of it. But I’m looking forward to it as well.

    • Where are you getting numbers like that? I have seen nothing myself.

      And I disagree it will be the biggest bombs in history. If it’s done correctly and follows the book and all its unique flora and fauna it could be as exciting and interesting as Avatar. Remember that “little” movie that really had nothing going for it except Cameron’s name, a rehashed storyline and a beautiful CGI world? If Disney can match the epic visual quality and it get’s positive word of mouth, then it will do awesome.

    • If you ask me, John Carter is a giant joke. It feels like spending $300 million on a “Flash Gordon” remake, just without the great music by Queen. The trailer felt a lot like these cheese 80s space romps, just with improved SFX this time round. And that’s the sad thing. At least all these 80s flick were low-budget B-movies not to be taken too seriously. This time, they seem to take it very seriously in quest for another Avatar.

  10. Disney realized that the Avengers deserves more money so they cancelled this movie. SMOOTH MOVE DISNEY!

  11. I think it was scheduling and budget we will see It go through around 2013 or 2014

  12. Did we really need another remake of a so called “classic” anyway?

    Let’s get with the making of some new,fresh ideas instead of rehashing the same old tired ones.

  13. I honestly never cared for this.

  14. I’m not surprised one bit. For two reasons mainly.

    1. 2011 has proven, that it’s a lot more profitable to invest in sequels to existing movie franchises (POTC, Transformers, Harry Potter)…Why risking a bomb with Johnny Depp if you can spend the money on more POTC movies, guaranteed to make 1 billion each worldwide?

    2. Western fantasy stuff hasn’t proven successful either. Jonah Hex, Priest, Cowboys & Aliens…none of these movies managed to attract a wide audience. With The Dark Tower already cancelled by Universal, Disney wouldn’t risk losing money. They want to move on with POTC 5+6 ASAP because this is where the profit lies…

    • Funny. I never thought of “Lone Ranger” being planned as a classic western movie like “True Grit” or “3:10 to Yuma”…Given Verbinski’s previous take on the pirates genre I am absolutely sure he wanted to do the same with the western material, i.e. turning it into a huge-scale fantasy epic.

      So yeah, I guess they were planning on showing armies of undead cowboys and soldiers as well as a depiction of hell itself…The term “Ghost Town” should have had a completely different meaning. I was actually quite looking forward to this.

      Anyway, the $250 million budget comes not as a surprise for this was never meant to be just a plain old western flick…

    • BTW…
      “but that was a factor in the downfall of the Pirates films”

      Downfall? What downfall are you referring to? The POTC franchise is alive and well as far as box office gross is concerned. The last three may have been panned by the critics but who cares? All three Transformers movies were critically panned, too, but they still made a billion with the third one.
      So no, no “downfall” here, at least not in an economic sense. Quite the opposite is the case. POTC4 has been so insanely successful they want to get it on with POTC 5+6 instead of risking hundreds of millions with this project. They need POTC 5+6 to establish a new lead character next to Jack Sparrow and Russel Brand is the man. After POTC 6, Johnny Depp will leave the series if it works out and Russel Brand will go on with POTC 7,8,9 etc…

  15. I (and the spirit of Tonto) thank you from the bottom of our hearts for not going through with this movie.

  16. This is a new generation that will not go to a movie just becaue a star is in it. if u cant have a good story hollywood, ur movie will fail.

  17. 250 Million for a Disney remake?? Come on! You can get a decent director and no-name actors to play the leading roles for under 100 million without the CG (if they were going to use CG). Decent movies were made for under 50 mil and grossed 3 or 4 times as much such as 300 by Zach Snyder.

  18. Thank you! I didn’t want to see the Lone Ranger as the dumb white man with a Tonto “too cool for you” sidekick.

  19. Nah it probably had to do with Kate Moss trying to spill the beans on her relation during his bad boy years

  20. Somewhere out there Terry Gilliam is peeing himself with laughter (and rage).

    • The problem with this story is it’s not accurate. Disney is still discussing budget with the producers. Things were temperarily halted…the film hasn’t been cancelled. This is what happened when a site, such as Deadline, jumps at running with a story by “insiders,” instead of waiting for official word from the studio. This kind of reporting is so tiresome.

      • …because Gilliam made up the whole thing.

      • So you’re saying that it wasn’t because there were werewolves in the movie? :-)

  21. GOOD! whitewashing tonto by casting depp as tonto and the main character in movie was a stupid idea and having the lone ranger as his sidekick.
    i met the lone ranger way back in elementary and iam glad his body won’t roll over in his grave. he had fond things to say about the series and his costar tonto. hip hip hurrah for no DEMENTED version of the LONE RANGER.

    • Don’t bet the ranch on this not happening. Might want to save you hurrah’s for a bit. Depp would make a great Tonto.

  22. There were NOT werewolves in the script. Just more of the craziness of believing anything someone throws out there. The guy who wrote an early verson of the script (and one of the movie’s producers) said that was not true. Mr Rossio, who wrote several of the Pirate films is very close to this production and spoke about this on his screenwriters blog.

  23. If Disney has BRAINZ find way to get the longe ranger bak U dont hav problems afording other moviez or showz that aint worth the $ pple spend do U want a reputation that stinks knockin out good shows just to keep worthless shows b’n made this wuld b nsult to Clayton Moore, Disney yor gettn F’s with me and how meny otherz, U’ve cancelled alot of good shows in the past just for wothless showz pple dont need to C get brain adjustment