Walt Disney Pictures has at last gotten its troubled Lone Ranger adaptation back on track and has now selected an official February 2012 start date for production on the Johnny Depp-starring western - along with a new theatrical release date.
The Mouse House has done some additional re-shuffling of its release docket - specifically, with respect to the comic book sequel, Thor 2. While that film was previously slated to arrive in late July 2013, it has now been pushed back to November of that year... though Marvel's other big release of 2013, Iron Man 3, remains set for a summer launch.
Lone Ranger was originally supposed to have already begun principal photography at the time of writing this, in order to make a Winter 2012 release. Disney's concerns over the film's intimidating budget ($250 million) nearly killed director Gore Verbinski's controversial take on the classic American character - though, things were finally worked out after the three big names connected with the project (Verbinski, Depp, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer) dropped their "standard" $10-20 million salaries and helped lower the estimated cost to $215 million. Now, the still-expensive western is scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on May 31st, 2013.
For more about Lone Ranger - the plot of which may still include werewolves and what has been described as "the biggest train sequence in film history" - read our most recent production update.
THR confirmed the new Lone Ranger release date, but did not indicate whether or not Disney had pushed back the Thor followup - which is now scheduled for release on November 15th, 2013 - as a direct result of the Ranger re-scheduling. Thor 2 has yet to officially lock down a director (UPDATE: Patty Jenkins has officially landed the job), so it's certainly possible the superhero adventure was pushed back a bit because it has not yet progressed as far along the production pipeline as Disney heads originally expected. Remember, though, that's pure speculation.
On that note - does this mean a solo venture featuring one of the less-popular Marvel characters will take the God of Thunder flick's previous spot in July 2013? The studio's plan has reportedly been to release two "major" titles on an annual basis, but that doesn't mean Marvel universe heroes like Ant-Man or Dr. Strange - whose respective movies are rumored to be in the "active" stage of development - won't be making the jump to the big screen in 2013.
Moviegoers still get to see Chris Hemsworth reprise his turn as the blonde bruiser Thor in The Avengers, which (at this point) is guaranteed to be the only Marvel in-house production arriving over the upcoming twelve months. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out The Avengers trailer as well.
To reiterate: Lone Ranger is now prepped to gallop into U.S. theaters on May 31st, 2013.
Thor 2 will soar into U.S. theaters nearly six months later on November 15th, 2013.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures (via THR)