Director Gore Verbinski’s revisionist The Lone Ranger required a lot of money to make – possibly as much as $250 million – and that contributed to the Disney film winding up stalled during pre-production for several months (along with an early script draft’s questionable elements). However, later this week, audiences will finally be able to decided for themselves whether or not the western blockbuster was worth all the development brouhaha.

The movie stars Armie Hammer as a law-abiding man, who becomes the titular cowboy vigilante and joins forces with Tonto (Johnny Depp), who is a very unusual warrior from the Camanche tribe. Hammer has a deal that would bring him back for any future Lone Ranger sequels, should the first installment prove successful enough to start a franchise; likewise, Depp is ready to continue his relation$hip with Disney, when it comes to potential Lone Ranger followups.

Multi-pictures deals are standard for this breed of Disney blockbuster (see: Oz the Great and Powerful), but Hammer cautioned E! Online that the potential Lone Ranger sequel (and beyond) “depends on this one.” Similarly, the female lead Ruth Wilson – who plays the Ranger’s ex-sweetheart turned sister-in-law – confirmed that she’s contractually set to appear in a Lone Ranger trilogy, but she then added that “So if there is another one, it would be lovely to be in it but you never know.”

By comparison, Depp said that “If they started talking sequel on this I’d be ready to go in a second,” but is not contractually required to do so (unlike his peers). Such are the fringe benefits that come when you’ve collected several $1 billion hits under your belt, which frees up Depp’s reps to secure him an even heftier payday for a Lone Ranger sequel (like they did for Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and should manage to do again on the Alice in Wonderland followup).

Without spoiling anything, we can confirm that Disney’s Lone Ranger wraps up on a note that allows for future adventures with the Ranger and Tonto. Problem is, Verbinski’s western is more thematically self-contained than his first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (look for a feature on that subject to arrive in the near future), and as such, Verbinski might not be so inclined to return for a sequel as he was on his previous Depp franchise.

Disney would probably be willing to replace Verbinski with another director on a Lone Ranger sequel, but when that happened on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the final result was a hollow shell of Verbinski’s ambitious second and third installments in that Disney franchise (flaws and all). For now, though, it’s best to wait and see how Lone Ranger does at the box office, before spending more time speculating about what could go wrong in a sequel.

The Lone Ranger arrives in theaters on July 3rd, 2013.

Source: E! Online