Disney's <i>Lone Ranger</i> Lassos December 2012 Release Date

Disney announced today that  Lone Ranger will open on Dec. 21, 2012, riding into theaters only a week after The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Deadline reports.

The Gore Verbinski-directed adaptation, which begins production this fall, stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) in the title role as a Texas Ranger left for dead and Johnny Depp as Tonto, the Comanche who saves him and becomes his partner.

Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio wrote the script, which Depp has said reinvents the relationship between the Lone Ranger and Tonto, with Jerry Bruckheimer producing.

Based on the long-running radio serial turned television series about a masked Texas Ranger who fights injustice with his Native American companion, the current Lone Ranger movie languished for five years in development hell until 2007, when Bruckheimer set up the project at Disney. Depp has been attached to the movie since 2008, with Hammer cast just last month.

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