When last we left The Lone Ranger, it wasn't with a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-Yo, Silver!" No, the big-screen adaptation was in peril, with Disney pulling the reins on the rumored $275-million movie, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski scrambling to slash the budget to a size the studio finds more manageable -- somewhere south of $215 million.
As we rejoin the adventure we learn, courtesy of Deadline, that the duo is presenting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross a budget that's somewhere in that $215-million range, lower than the $220-million comprise figure that apparently had been bandied about, but not the $200 million or so the studio really wanted.
Will Ross shoot down the new proposal, which required Bruckheimer and Verbinski to give up a combined $10 million in fees, or saddle up for the big-budget Western? Tune in next week when -- wait! There's a twist to this cliffhanger!
"Insiders" tell Deadline that Johnny Depp, who's long best set to star as Tonto, still wants to make The Lone Ranger, but won't do it without Verbinski, with whom he worked on three installments of The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as well as Rango. So Disney may be in a corner: It can't risking pushing the director too much more on the budget without risking his involvement -- and if Verbinski leaves, so will Depp.