Disney has set aside Jerry Bruckheimer’s big tentpole The Lone Ranger due to budget concerns; the film was looking to cost $250 million and director Gore Verbinski couldn’t get it down to 200. How the fuck, you may wonder (and we all have wondered), would a Lone Ranger movie cost that much? The franchise is about a masked man showing up and shooting bad guys, leaving behind a silver bullet as his calling card.
And that’s where the cost comes in. See, somebody - be it Bruckheimer, be it original screenwriters and patron saints of shitty blockbusters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio - decided to put werewolves in the movie. You can see where this connection comes in, right? Silver bullets, werewolves.. of course!
The film, at least the 2009 draft before Justin Haythe came on, would be a very Pirates of the Caribbean style thing, with elements of Native American mysticism and the occult taking the forefront.
“It was never going to be a semi-traditional western…it was never going to be Zorro,” an insider tells Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere.
“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.”
The stuff about Tonto really gibes with what I’ve been hearing for YEARS, that this was a Green Hornet and Kato kind of relationship. The occult business makes sense when you look at the players involved. Skinwalkers and wendigos and all that stuff - this is what sells toys, not just bad guys in black hats.
The other interesting thing that Wells’ informant tells him is that Depp intended his Tonto to be the exact opposite of his Captain Jack Sparrow. “Depp’s interest in playing Tonto is about fulfilling his Marlon Brando legacy,” the director-writer believes. “Deep is partly Native American himself and he was partly mentored by Brando, who was a big Indians’ rights advocate. So he didn’t want to do any kind of jaunty performance that plays it light and spoofy with the Native American thing. No Captain Jack crap this time around.”
It’s possible that once the stink of Cowboys & Aliens is off the land Disney may try this one again, or maybe it’ll go into turnaround and another studio could pick it up. Paramount loves Verbinski after Rango, I’m sure. I sort of hope it just goes away; I’d love to see a more traditional Lone Ranger film, maybe one with a tie to the masked avenger tradition that created superheroes, but I don’t need the origin of the Lone Ranger’s silver bullets to be from lycanthropes.