The Lone Ranger Delays Explained by Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
10.19.11 by Ryan
At first, Disney's adaptation of The Lone Ranger seemed to be going swimmingly. Armie Hammer was cast in May to star in the title role alongside Johnny Depp as Tonto, the Lone Ranger's sidekick, and, weeks later, Disney gave the movie a prime release date of December 21, 2012. Then, just as more actors were being added to the movie's cast, Disney shut down production after the studio balked at the movie's $250 million (and growing) price tag.
Depp recently admitted that the budget bargaining was part of the plan, and, in an interview with THR, producer Jerry Bruckheimer explained why the delay wasn't the biggest surprise.
We had a script that we kept working on. It was evolving. You start looking at locations, you look at the menu and say: "I like all these desserts. I want 'em all." And you hit a number and they say, "We can't afford that." Then you start cutting it back. Disney wanted to stop the spending unless they felt the budget corresponded to the number that the boss [Disney CEO Robert Iger] wanted. They had set a deadline [Aug. 12] for us to submit a budget, and we didn't hit their number. They said, "Can you hit it?" We didn't have enough time to really vet the budget, and we said we couldn't hit it right away. And they said, "We have to stop the bleeding." We understood what they were doing, but we wanted to keep working.
Bruckheimer said that it took "four to six weeks" to get the budget down to size (reportedly, $215 million), at which point Disney put the movie back in production. The new budget required that Bruckheimer, Depp, and director Gore Verbinski all took deferred paychecks, while other budget finagling, regarding things like locations and extras, took some careful planning. What Bruckheimer did not want to do cut was much from the script written by Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road). "We cut a sequence involving a coyote attack — supernatural coyotes — and a small animated segment," explained Bruckheimer, confirming the rumor of said coyotes. "The train [scenes] are intact. Gore made some sacrifices creatively, but nothing that would hurt the film."
The budget woes behind them, The Lone Ranger is now set for a May 2013 release date, which Bruckheimer says works in the movie's favor.
It's a better date. Before, we were up against The Hobbit and World War Z. Now we're a week after Fast and Furious  and a couple weeks before Superman. The competition is not as bad. There are a lot of movies jammed in at Christmas. In the summer, you have a longer run. You're cut off after the first of the year on a Christmas release.