"In a stunning development, Disney has shut down production on ‘The Lone Ranger,’ the Gore Verbinski-directed period Western that was to star Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the title character," writes Mike Fleming at Deadline.com.
Fleming continues, "Disney pulled the plug because the budget, which I’ve heard the filmmakers were trying to reduce from $250 million–I’ve heard from insider that they’d gotten down to $232 million, but whatever the number, it wasn’t close to the $200 million that Disney wanted to spend."
The article adds, " ‘Lone Ranger’ wasn’t starting production until October…even though money has been spent as the picture is in pre-production (Depp is pay or play)….The shoot was set for New Mexico. Between Depp, [producer Jerry] Bruckheimer and Verbinski, the gross outlay on the film is substantial. The film was still casting up, with Ruth Wilson, the serial killer from the BBC’s ‘Luther’ series, set for the female lead.
Though the principals have an excellent track record for Disney, Fleming asks the question, "Is it coincidence that ‘The Lone Ranger’ halted right after another Western, ‘Cowboys & Aliens,’ proved to be a pricey disappointment for DreamWorks and Universal?" Of course neither group is necessarily
However, unlike "Cowboys and Aliens," we would point out, "The Lone Ranger" elicits fond memories from millions of male baby boomers who watched it on TV as a kid, and from those even older who remember the series warmly from when it was on radio. Of course neither group is Disney’s primary theatrical movie-going target.