Disney Pulls the Plug on Johnny Depp's “Lone Ranger”

Say so long to the anticipated "Lone Ranger" movie that was set to star Johnny Depp.

Walt Disney Co. has halted production of its planned retelling of the western classic, which was set to start shooting in just two months — despite its major star, a tested director in "Pirates of the Caribbean" chief Gore Verbinski and a big-name producer in Jerry Bruckheimer.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the studio still wants to make the movie but couldn't accomodate its ballooning budget right now.

One source told The Hollywood Reporter that Verbinski "doesn't want to budge" on budget requirements and producers wouldn't accomodate those demands.

Disney might also be wary of committing its resources to a genre as generally unpopular as the western, especially after "Cowboys & Aliens" made an unexpectedly mild box office showing last month.

But Hollywood hasn't tested a genuine, big-budget western on American audiences in some time, with the exception of critical and commercial success "True Grit" last year.

Depp had been set to play not the Lone Ranger himself — Armie Hammer, who played the Winklevoss twins in "The Social Network," landed that role — but rather his sidekick Tonto. Reportedly Disney had hoped to make a franchise of the movie.

Meanwhile, the scuttling of plans to start shooting in October could complicate the future of the "Pirates" franchise, The Hollywood Reporter suggested.

Selected reading: Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, E! Online

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