The troubled production history of Gore Verbinski’s upcoming Johnny Depp– and Armie Hammer-starring The Lone Ranger is far too lengthy to fully recap yet again. Suffice to say, Verbinski wants to spend way too much money on the film, he and Disney have gone back and forth on a budget numerous times, and the whole project has almost been killed already due to the disagreements. But eventually concessions were made (including the cutting of an expensive sequence involving a train), and eventually the two sides were able to come to an agreement on a budget of $215m. Back in February we finally got word that production on the film had actually started. It looked like things had finally fallen in place for Disney’s latest crack at making a successful live action feature film, and everything was going to be okay.
But that was in February. Now there are reports coming from THR that claim the film is behind schedule and once again over budget. How behind schedule is the movie? Somewhere between days and weeks. And how much have they gone over budget? Reports say that expenses may have swelled to $250m, which was the figure that Disney balked at originally.
Seeing as $250m is somewhere around the astronomical number that the studio recently gambled with and lost on with the budget of John Carter, one can imagine that executives are probably furious over this situation. It conjures up images of Verbinski as the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, or as the drunk teen calling dad to ask for bail money.
With the recent dismissal of Disney studio-head Rich Ross (which came largely due to the John Carter debacle) and his replacement by Alan Horn, it will be interesting to see how this new regime handles the problem of having a big project over budget. Already more rewrites have been ordered – presumably to cut out more of the big, effects-heavy action sequences – but with the company’s recent cutthroat shelving of their Order of the Seven live-action Snow White project, which they had already spent quite a bit of money developing, might there be some more severe repercussions coming this long-troubled project’s way? Depp has a bird on his head…Verbinski is out there operating without any decent restraint…the horror, the horror…