Director Gore Verbinski is reportedly scrambling to slash costs on The Lone Ranger after Disney pulled the reins on the $250-million Western.
According to Heat Vision, the budget has been whittled down to between $242 million and $244 million, not nearly enough for studio executives, who would like to see it at $215 million or less. Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are said to have given up $10 million of their fees, but that won't be enough to bridge what's characterized as a "substantial budget gap." The director supposedly has a week to make the necessary cuts to hit the studio's target figure.
The Lone Ranger would seem like a sure bet for Disney, as it reunited the Pirates of the Caribbean team of Verbinski, Bruckheimer and Depp on a beloved franchise, but the underwhelming opening of Cowboys & Aliens and the studio's $300-million investment in John Carter apparently made executives extremely nervous about a Western with a Texas-sized budget.
Heat Vision also seems to confirm online scuttlebutt that the screenplay contained, at least at one point, werewolves and other supernatural elements that contributed to the movie's costs. Those are gone, but recent drafts are said to have included "three massive action set pieces involving trains remain, including one described as the biggest train sequence in film history."
The Lone Ranger, which features Armie Hammer in the title role, is -- or at least had been -- scheduled to begin filming in mid-October for release on Dec. 21, 2012.