Disney Shuts Down The Lone Ranger, or, Why Does it Cost $250 Million to Make a Western?

Well, they’ve shut down production now, but who knows, they could start it back up again in a day or week or a month from now. Like Ron Howard’s “The Dark Towers”, which is currently looking for a home because Universal thought the film’s budget was too outrageously high for their liking, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced “Lone Ranger” was a tad too expensive for Disney, the original budget clocking in at $250 million. Which makes you wonder why it would cost that much to film a Western. What, are there alien invaders in this thing or something?

According to Deadline, Disney is asking for a $200 million budget, something that apparently Bruckheimer and company couldn’t get done to the studio’s satisfaction. And thus, the brakes have been applied on the big-budget Western, which would have starred Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the titular masked man, with Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski doing the honors behind the camera.

“The Lone Ranger” was previously scheduled for a December 21, 2012 release date, which is still a long ways off. I imagine there wouldn’t be extensive CGI or anything that would require a lengthy post-production schedule (unlike, say, another big-budget Western involving aliens), so Disney could reverse their decision soon and still get the film into theaters by the original December date.

After all, hasn’t Depp made Disney a bazillion dollars in the last few years? I believe all three of his “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies are all pretty high on the highest grossing movies of all time list…