Variety is reporting that Disney is having budget issues with The Lone Ranger, the classic western which has The Social Network actor Armie Hammer playing the title character and Johnny Depp playing the Ranger’s Native American companion Tonto. The studio apparently wants to “trim the film’s escalating budget to get it closer to the $200 million that Disney was looking to spend to make the movie”.
THR earlier reported that production had been halted, with the studio wary about producing a big-budget western following the poor box office performance of Cowboys and Aliens. However Variety insists the project “is far from dead at the studio”, and Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are “trying to rein in the costs of the actioner before the price to produce the pic gallops away from them.”
The Lone Ranger, which has Pirates of the Caribbean‘s Gore Verbinski as director, was looking to shooting in October in New Mexico, which will offer the studio tax breaks. Whether these budget issues delay production remains to be seen, but the studio may still aim to meet the December 21, 2012 release date.
As well as Depp and Hammer, the movie is also set to star Ruth Wilson, Dwight Yoakam, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale and Barry Pepper.