EXCLUSIVE: Deadline told you a week ago that things were looking up for The Lone Ranger for the first time since we broke the shocking news on Aug. 12 that Disney had pulled the plug over budget. I’m hearing that the studio is likely to have everything resolved by next week, and can start rehiring crew so that the picture will be ready to begin production in January or February. How that late start impacts the Dec. 21, 2012 release date remains to be seen, but Johnny Depp will get to play Tonto (Disney wouldn’t make the movie without him), and Armie Hammer will be back in as the title character. Ruth Wilson, the scene-stealing killer from Idris Elba’s British cop series Luther, is also expected back as the female lead.
Disney has gotten to this point after a painful overhaul of the movie by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski to bring to $215 million a budget the studio feared could reach $250 or more. Verbinski’s struggle has been to reach that number while retaining enough of the spectacle that made them say yes in the first place. The cutting process has included the reworking of deals for Depp, Verbinski and Bruckheimer, and trimming the production budget and the long shoot. That would enable Depp, Gore and Bruckheimer to re-team after making the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films together. The Lone Ranger is one of several huge-budget films that Disney’s Rich Ross and Sean Bailey are managing. The others include John Carter, the Andrew Stanton-directed adaptation of John Carter of Mars with Friday Night Lights‘ Taylor Kitsch in the lead role, which has a budget around $250 million; and The Great and Powerful Oz, the Sam Raimi-directed James Franco-starrer, which is hovering around $200 million. READ MORE »
EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Renner, who received an Oscar nomination for the Ben Affleck-directed heist film The Town, is back in bank robbery mode. Renner is attached to star in King of Heists, an adaptation of the J. North Conway nonfiction book from Lion Press about one of the greatest bank robberies in American history. He’ll play George Leslie, who came to New York appearing to be a mannered gent, but secretly put together a crew and masterminded a heist of nearly $3 million in cash and securities from the Manhattan Savings Institution in 1878. Renner and his The Combine partner Don Handfield will produce with Black Bear Pictures’ Teddy Schwarzman. Black Bear Pictures optioned the book and plans to finance development and production.
Will Staples will write the script. Staples most recently sold the science fiction pitch Myth to Fox with Sam Worthington attached and Lorenzo di Bonaventura and James Cameron producing. Staples, who until recently wrote with partner Sean O’Keefe, is teamed with him on an adaptation of the Lorenzo Carcaterra novel Apaches for Jerry Bruckheimer, the pitch World’s Most Wanted at Universal and Kings of the Trail at Walden Media with Gavin Hood attached to direct. Black Bear Pictures is in production on the untitled Ramin Bahrani-directed pic that stars Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid, and begins filming A.C.O.D. with Adam Scott next spring. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: For the first time since Deadline broke the shocking news that Disney had pulled the plug because of a huge budget on the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, insiders tell me that things … Read More »
Forbes has come out with its annual list of the highest-paid men in entertainment. Tyler Perry leads the pack this year with $130 million earned between May 2010 and May 2011, with five movies and two TV series to … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: This is the kind of Maalox moment that explains why studio moguls get paid the big bucks. Because Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross now has a very public decision to make about whether to go forward with The Lone … Read More »
NBC is getting in the ring with a put pilot commitment to a drama about the 1980s professional wrestling boom that is executive produced by one of the biggest ’90s wrestling stars, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. The fictional drama set in the world of wrestling in the ’80s hails from Bruckheimer TV, marking a departure from the company’s signature brand of procedurals. It will be written by Brent Fletcher and Seamus Kevin Fahey (Spartacus: Gods of the Arena), who will co-executive produce alongside KristieAnne Reed. Johnson, Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are executive producing.
The ’80s, often called “the golden age of wrestling”, marked a surge in the popularity of professional wrestling in the U.S. fueled by the growth of cable television and pay-per-view and the efforts of hot-shot promoters like Vince McMahon. During that period, pro wrestling shifted from a system controlled by numerous regional companies to a system dominated by two nationwide companies: Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling and McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. It featured the launch of WrestleMania and the emergence of wrestling’s first crop of superstars led by Hulk Hugan. The project extends the popularity of period dramas among the broadcast networks, which have two such series, the 1960s-set Pan Am on ABC and The Playboy Club on NBC, premiering this fall. It also expands wrestling’s presence at NBCUniversal. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In an exclusive to Deadline’s Pete Hammond during Disney’s D23 Expo, Rich Ross made his first comment on The Lone Ranger since I revealed the film had been halted for budgetary reasons. “I’m hoping to do it. I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” The surprise is that Ross mentioned Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer but not the film’s director Gore Verbinski. Would Disney be happier making The Lone Ranger without him?
The rumblings I’ve heard since my first story on the stoppage are as follows: Verbinski and Bruckheimer have been working hard to tone down or lose some of the budget-busting spectacular scenes in Justin Haythe’s script. At the same time, Bruckheimer as well as reps for Depp and Verbinski have been discussing ways to defer big chunks of their upfront paydays. Salary among all three likely accounts for $30 million or more. And if the trio’s backend deals weren’t at cash break before, they likely will be now if the film moves forward. Because simply adjusting above-the-line salaries isn’t enough to bring down what insiders told Deadline nine days ago was a $75 million budget gap to get to the $200 million Disney wants to spend on the Western. I’ve heard since that the studio will agree to make The Lone Ranger at $215 million. One major question is whether Verbinski can deliver at that number and retain enough spectacle “wow” factor to give The Lone Ranger a shot at a big overseas gross and sequels.
If Ross’s comments indicate that Disney would be open to making The Lone Ranger with another director, that is taking a big risk with Depp. Outside of Tim Burton, no director has made as many movies with Depp as Verbinski, with three Pirates of the Caribbean films and Rango. Would Depp continue in the movie if Verbinski was moved aside or quit? Good question. The Lone Ranger is a giant risk in the first place because Westerns don’t traditionally perform well overseas. In a DVD-collapsed world, a $275 million film is back to grossing three times its budget to earn out, and that can’t be done without a big overseas reward. Without Depp — arguably the biggest star in the world right now with three of the all-time Top 10 worldwide grossing films — there is no Lone Ranger. Read More »
UPDATE: Johnny Depp is in Europe right now, but really wanted to make The Lone Ranger. According to one insider, “Let’s see how it all shakes out on Monday. There’s always a chance that it could go. You never know until you know.” The deeper story behind this production stoppage is about how movies are costing too much, studios are giving major pushback, and today’s backdrop of a crazy economy. Everyone involved is still intent on the project and still in discussions to see what can be done. But the studio’s concern is spending over $200M on a Western, even with Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp and a comedic slant. So clearly Disney took drastic action. Now the studio and filmmakers are trying to figure out the next step, either to shop it elsewhere or put it back together at a later date at a lower budget.
EXCLUSIVE: In a stunning development, Disney has shut down production on The Lone Ranger, the Gore Verbinski-directed period Western that was to star Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the title character. Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer and the script is by Justin Haythe. I’m told this all just happened, and Disney pulled the plug because of the budget. I’ve heard the filmmakers were trying to reduce the film’s cost from $250 million (some even say $275 million) down to $232 million. But it wasn’t the $200 million that Disney wanted to spend. And between Depp, Bruckheimer, and Verbinski, the gross outlay on the film is substantial.
When the plug was pulled, the film was still casting up, with Ruth Wilson, the serial killer from the BBC’s Luther series, set for the female lead. And The Lone Ranger was scheduled to be released Dec. 21, 2012, smack up against The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens Dec. 14, and the Brad Pitt-starrer World War Z, which was just slated for Dec. 21. This becomes the second major Western-themed project to bite the dust, after Universal halted a mammoth adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. And is it coincidence that The Lone Ranger halted right after another Western, Cowboys & Aliens, proved a pricey disappointment for DreamWorks and Universal? Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ruth Wilson is in negotiations to play the female lead in Disney’s Lone Ranger, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film that stars Armie Hammer as the Masked Man and Johnny Depp as Tonto. Details of her role are sketchy, but it … Read More »
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, … Read More »
Timed to the opening of Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, filmmaker Nathan Gotsch wrote and directed a video with some friends that spoofs the lack of originality in Jerry Bruckheimer’s recent movies. This afternoon, Gotsch saw this email sent to one of the actresses from Tonia Davis, director of development … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Social Network’s Armie Hammer is in early talks to star opposite Johnny Depp in the title role of The Lone Ranger, the Gore Verbinski-directed film for Disney. I expect he’ll soon be shouting “Hi Yo Silver! Away!” on … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After being dormant for the past 2 years, the Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay-produced drama project for HBO Cocaine Cowboys is shifting into high gear with a new writer. Michelle Ashford (The Pacific) has been tapped to write a … Read More »
After promising early showings for Winter Wipeout in the challenging for ABC Thursday 8 PM slot, the network is sticking with reality in the hour for the rest of the season. After Winter Wipeout finishes its run, ABC will launch … Read More »
Gore Verbinski In Talks To Reteam With Johnny Depp On ‘Lone Ranger’
EXCLUSIVE: When we last left this project, Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3 director Gore … Read More »
The writing had been on the wall for the low-rated cop drama but TNT made it official today – Dark Blue will not be returning for a third season. The series starring Dylan McDermott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Warner Horizon TV never found its footing and its renewal after … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has nabbed a drama project from writer Jeffrey Lieber and Jerry Bruckheimer Television. The project, tentatively titled Full Nelson, is set in the music industry in the 1980s and follows a woman as she rises in the business. … Read More »