Los Angeles, Aug 14: Johnny Depp won't be riding onto the big screen as Tonto after all. His role in a Disney reboot of “The Lone Ranger” would have prominently featured him as the Indian sidekick.
But in a stunning reversal of fortunes, Disney pulled the plug on the production, despite an all-star lineup that included Depp and Director Gore Verbinski, according to Deadline Hollywood.
The weak economy and high cost of the picture, said to range between $200 million and $250 million, were cited as factors, plus Disney did not have a lot of confidence the public was ready for another Western.
But Depp is said to really want to make the movie.
“I remember watching it as a kid, with Jay Silverheels and Clayton Moore, and going: ‘Why is the fucking Lone Ranger telling Tonto what to do?'” Depp told EW when his role was announced in May.
“When the idea came up, I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to — eliminate isn't possible — but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head,” he explained.
More importantly, what Johnny wants, he usually gets from Disney. Four of the top-10 grossing films worldwide are Disney productions and he starred in three of them.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,” which Verbinski directed, is its latest blockbuster, It grossed $1.06 billion globally, and it's been Depp's personal franchise.
Disney already has several big-budget movies in production and could find itself over-extended if the economy continues to deteriorate and possibly slide into a second recession.
“The Lone Ranger”was scheduled to start shooting in October, and Disney is already on the hook to pay Depp whether the production goes forward or not.
Coincidentally, or maybe not, “The Lone Ranger” was shut down after western, “Cowboys & Aliens,” had a so-so response from movie goers.
But with production yet to start, it was also a logical target to save money.
Insiders have told the Web site a chance still exists that the picture might get made.