It’s been a long, winding road to get Disney’s new version of The Lone Ranger to the big screen. We went through the whole casting process, we went through a phase where everybody was waiting to see if Gore Verbinski would come on to direct, we were told that Disney had canned the movie due to its budget being out of control, and then there was a whole series of will-they-won’t-they back and forths where Verbinski kept trying to cut money from the budget to save the film and nobody knew whether or not each cut would be enough to do the job. But, finally, after what feels like years of reporting on this movie already, Deadline Tioga is saying that it’s actually set to go in front of cameras in February.
The amazing thing is, despite all of the delays and uncertainty, The Lone Ranger still has the original cast it put together in place. Armie Hammer is still going to be the title character, Johnny Depp is still going to be Tonto, and they’ve even now got Tom Wilkinson signed, sealed, and delivered to play the film’s villain, Latham Cole, and Ruth Wilson locked in to play the female lead, Rebecca Reid. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s also a strong supporting cast featuring names like Barry Pepper and Dwight Yoakam that are still on board.
I always figured that Disney had too much invested in this project for it to just go away completely, but I imagined the version we would eventually get would have had a different director and a radically different cast from the original plan. Without even seeing how this movie turns out, I think a lot of credit has to be given both to the suits at Disney for taking a stand against the escalating cost of summer blockbusters and Verbinski and crew for sticking with this project and getting it down to a reasonable cost rather than moving on to the next bloated summer whatever for another studio. The astronomical numbers we were seeing thrown around that were going to be spent on a remake of a cowboy show from the ’50s was absurd, and I’m more than happy to watch a version with some huge train crashes and CG werewolves or whatever taken out.
Maybe they can even make up for the loss in spectacle by focusing a bit more on the stories and the characters, you know? Okay, probably not, let’s not get crazy.