Is Dwight Yoakam Exiting ‘The Lone Ranger’ a Bad Omen?

There’s some more bad news for director Gore Verbinski’s seemingly cursed venture The Lone Ranger. This film, that Verbinski is making with Disney, has been in development for quite a while now, and it’s sure seen its share of ups and downs. Though it has a proven successful actor/director duo in Johnny Depp and Mr. Verbinski, and it’s dealing with the sort of  already-established source material that Hollywood feels most comfortable with, this film was also, at one point, coming in with a $250m budget. Five years ago, when the world was in considerably better shape, that might not have been a problem, but in today’s dicey climate, Disney decided that the financial risk was too great, and they ended up shelving the thing.

That wasn’t the end of the road, however. Verbinski vowed to do whatever it takes, including making big budget cuts, to get some form of this film onto the big screen. It seemed like a long shot, but eventually it worked, and the once-$250m  movie got the go-ahead to move forward with a new, slightly tweaked script and a new, slightly trimmed budget of more around the $215m mark.

When the new go-ahead was announced, it was said that the whole of the cast was still going to be in place, despite the extreme shift in scheduling, and that the film was going to begin shooting in February (which is now). At the time I had my doubts. Could a movie with names like Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Barry Pepper, and Dwight Yoakam really be delayed for such a radical amount of months and still have everyone freed up to stay on board?

It turns out, this time, my skepticism was founded. According to Deadline Pikeville, Yoakam has now opted to bow out of the project, and he’s citing scheduling conflicts as his reason why. Seeing as the film was scheduled to start shooting in a month that we’re already half through, isn’t this sort of a last minute thing? Does this mean that Yoakam had something sudden come up, or is work on this picture not moving along as quickly as it was supposed to? Will Verbinski be able to quickly replace Yoakam with somebody else capable of playing a mean hillbilly, maybe a Woody Harrelson, or is this just the first of many dominoes that are ready to once again start falling when it comes to this movie?

That’s a lot of questions I just threw at you, so I’m just going to let you sit there with them for a moment.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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