Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Disney will release Lone Ranger on December 21, 2012, giving the studio a big holiday entry in a crowding field. The film, directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Armie Hammer as the title character and Johnny Depp as Tonto, takes place in 1869. A Texas Ranger, left for dead, is saved by the Comanche Tonto, who gives his new partner the masked identity of Lone Ranger. Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio wrote the script and Jerry Bruckheimer is producing. The film begins production later this year.

The holiday corridor of 2012 is getting more competitive. Warner Bros recently set a December 14, 2012 release date for the Peter Jackson-directed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and on December 21, the Ang Lee-directed Life of Pi opens against Universal’s untitled Judd Apatow film as well as Relativity Media’s Hunter-Killer. Of course, date shifting is allowed.

Coming off the success of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, this is the second major film dated by Disney in the past two weeks. The Sam Raimi-directed  Oz: The Great and Powerful was set for March 8, 2013 release.

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