Disney Shut Down The Lone Ranger Because of...Werewolves?
08.16.11 by BJSprecher
The news that Disney was pulling the plug on producer Jerry Bruckheimer's planned adaptation of The Lone Ranger came as quite a surprise when Deadline reported it last Friday. Not only is the Lone Ranger an iconic character whose popularity (or, at least familiarity) spans generations, but the team assembled to bring it to life — Bruckheimer producing, Gore Verbinski directing and Johnny Depp starring as Tonto — have made billions of dollars for Disney with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and other movies.
Disney apparently made the decision to shut it down because the projected budget was well above the $200 million that they were willing to put up to make the movie. Even with Bruckheimer behind it, it seemed pretty strange that the budget for what is essentially a Western would be that high. Now, however, it appears that the reason for the huge budget has been explained. According to Hollywood-Elsewhere, the primary antagonists in the movie were going to be werewolves.
Citing a draft of the script written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio before Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) was hired to rewrite it, Hollywood-Elsewhere described it as "an effects-heavy CG thing due to being a kind of an Indian-spirituality werewolf movie — a.k.a., The Lone Ranger Meets the Wolfman." Further explanation was offered by an anonymous "gadfly" who frequents the same professional writers-only site that Elliot has posted on in the past:
It was never going to be a semi-traditional western...it was never going to be Zorro. It was going to be a Tonto show mainly. Tonto as the top dog and more dominant than the Lone Ranger. Tonto and the Indian spirits like Obi Wan Kenobi and the force. The driving engine was going to be Native American occult aspects worked in with werewolves and special effects. But flavored with doses of Native American spirituality in a serious way.
As cool as it may sound to some to have the Lone Ranger and Tonto fighting mystical Native American werewolves, the fact that the movie is a Fantasy-Western genre mash-up may have had more to do with the movie's undoing than the price tag. To find evidence that audiences may not be up for this type of a pairing or blending, Disney execs would have to look no further than the current box office numbers for director Jon Favreau's sci-fi and Western mash-up, Cowboys and Aliens, which is languishing in theaters despite the combined star power of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.