With The Lone Ranger budget trimmed and back on track Disney, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director Gore Verbinski are now aiming to begin filming in February with Armie Hammer as the title character and Johnny Depp as the Ranger’s Native American companion Tonto.
In a new interview Bruckheimer revealed it was “a shock” when Disney halted production back in August, but the team have now reduced the budget to $215m from $260m with most scenes left intact, so as to compete with the “fierce” competition.
How did you do it?
…we bunched the sequences that were big together, and for the smaller scenes [we] laid off the extras, the effects people, the makeup people. It costs an enormous amount with 150 extras on the set. It’s not the extras, it’s the people that support the extras. You’re still carrying all the wardrobe, makeup and hair people. We bunched together scenes with Tonto and the Lone Ranger, so we had a much smaller crew. We saved about $10 million just by doing that.
Then we looked for the best break in tax incentives. We found that Louisiana gave us a better tax incentive than New Mexico — that was another $8 million. We’re still shooting in New Mexico, and we might [also] go to Louisiana.
Did you have to lose sequences from the script? There was talk that some train sequences were cut back.
We cut a sequence involving a coyote attack — supernatural coyotes — and a small animated segment. The train [scenes] are intact. We trimmed it a little bit. Gore made some sacrifices creatively, but nothing that would hurt the film.
Disney would have much preferred us cutting stuff out of the script. But the competition is fierce. You can’t compete with The Hobbit, you can’t compete with Transformers if you do that. The audience will stay home.
Because you missed your original start date, how do you feel about Disney moving the release from December 2012 to May 31, 2013?
It’s a better date. Before, we were up against The Hobbit and World War Z. Now we’re a week after Fast and Furious and a couple weeks before Superman. The competition is not as bad. There are a lot of movies jammed in at Christmas. In the summer, you have a longer run. You’re cut off after the first of the year on a Christmas release.
As well as Depp and Hammer, The Lone Ranger will also feature Ruth Wilson, Dwight Yoakam, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale and Barry Pepper.
Bruckheimer also said they were at “the outline phase” with Pirates of the Caribbean 5, but “decided we could do better” with the script, so re-writes will likely take place before it moves forward. I felt the script for On Stranger Tides was pretty weak, so improving the next film (which is coming whether we like it or not) will be better for everyone.