It appears now that not even Disney is safe from the economic crisis that has gripped the world economy as of late. Up until a few days ago, the studio giant was poised to start production on a modern adaptation of the classic 1930s radio and tv show The Lone Ranger. However apparently the film’s extremely swollen budget of $250 million was just a tad bit outside of Disney’s budgetary comfort zone. The film, which was already deep into the casting process, and had so far locked down Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the film’s masked crusader, and Johnny Depp as his, now politically correct, sidekick Tonto. Now it seems that the production is on a brief hiatus while Producers struggle to trim so of the budgetary fat.
The Lone Ranger is set to be the 4th feature collaboration between Depp and all star Director Gore Verbinski. This same duo had already pulled in billions of dollars in net profit for Disney with their first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and their latest effort, Rango, also grossed over $240 million. With the odds of financial success so heavily in their favor, it makes one wonder why in the world the Disney is scared to bank of another tentpole film. Perhaps the thought of having to compete with the Hobbit in 2012 was just too much for even Depp and Verbinski to overcome, or maybe they just wanted to wait and see if John Carter flops before making any other $200 million dollar decisions.
All things considered, perhaps this really was the best course of action. $250 million dollars is way too much for a movie of any genre let alone a western. Film budgets these days have just gotten way out of control and perhaps these economic hardships are exactly the wake up call the industry needs. John Ford shot The Searchers for under $5 million and still managed to rope in John Wayne! There’s no justification for shelling out 20 million just to have Johnny Depp in your film when there are hoards of unknown talents just waiting to be discovered. This new scaled back approach is the same thing that hopefully saved Akira from disaster, and I can only imagine we’ll see a similar result here. Variety reported earlier that Disney was only looking to cut about $30 million dollars bringing the whole budget down to around $200 million. This budget could easily be scaled down another $100 million and still be quite profitable. The film is set in a desert, it doesn’t need a $100 million in special effects (unless they are planning a tie in with Cowboys & Aliens that is). You could save at least $80 million by weeding out some of your overpaid above the line actors! Do yourself a favor Disney, cut your budget in half. You’ll thank me later.