News that Disney’s The Lone Ranger was abruptly canceled last month came as a huge shock to film fans everywhere, but not as big a shock as the reason – the budget had ballooned to $250 million, partly due to the subject material involving werewolves.

Soon after, word on the street was that producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski, and star Johnny Depp were hard at work cutting the budget because they really, really wanted to make their Lone Ranger film with werewolves. Now comes word that they’re incredibly close to making that deal, and production will start in early 2012.

According to Deadline, the deal will likely be sealed next week, and all the major players who were previously onboard– Johnny Depp as Tonto, Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger, Ruth Wilson as the love interest, Bruckheimer producing, and Verbinski directing – will still be in the picture. The reason for Disney’s change of heart? Verbinski and company have managed to bring the budget down from $250 million plus to $215 million. As to whether or not the project will make its originally scheduled release date of December 2012, that’s still to be decided.

In fairness, Gore Verbinski is an occasionally great director, and a Lone Ranger about werewolves and mysticism could – emphasis on “could” – genuinely be excellent. If the writing’s there, the direction’s there, and the talent’s there, nothing else really matters. Right?

Of course, we’re left wondering what was so bad about the original Lone Ranger story in the first place:

‘Six Texas Rangers are ambushed by Butch Cavendish and his band of dastardly outlaws. One – Dan Reid – survives and is nursed back to health by a Native American named Tonto. John Reid and Tonto dig six graves so Cavendish will believe Reid to be dead, then Reid fashions a black mask out of his dead brother’s vest and becomes The Lone Ranger. Together, he and Tonto hunt down Cavendish and his outlaws.’

Honestly, that sounds like a pretty darn good movie. Simple, yes, but timeless, too.

What are you feelings on this film? Do you want to see a Lone Ranger with Tonto as the main protagonist and werewolves as the villains? Or does even the presence of Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp not make up for the fact that there are werewolves in The Lone Ranger for no discernable reason? Let us know in the comments.

Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

The Lone Ranger is expected to start production in January or February 2012.

Source: Deadline