Disney’s proposed movie retooling of “The Lone Ranger” – a movie that nobody asked for, in a genre that doesn’t make money, whose two most-recent comparative cousins (Green Hornet and Cowboys & Aliens) both bombed spectacularly, being reworked in such a fashion as to alienate the dwindling fanbase that none the less compromises the ONLY people likely to give a shit, so troubled as a production as to have become an industry-wide laughingstock – is apparently close to getting a second lease on life, according to Deadline.
Why? Mainly because the good citizens of Earth just handed Disney another boatload of cash to watch Johnny Depp mug his way through a shitty fourth “Pirates” movie, also a little bit because (supposedly) Depp actually wants to bring some kind of mystic/main-character version of Tonto to the big screen.
But I’d say it’s ALSO probably because Disney’s non-animated/non-Pixar tentpole slate isn’t in spectacular shape right now. It’s hard to notice because nobody spins bad news like The Mouse; but the fact is Disney doesn’t have an all-but garaunteed blockbuster on the schedule other than “The Avengers” this coming May. Their other “big” projects – “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and “John Carter” – are both HUGE question-marks at this point: “Oz” has James Franco, not himself a proven boxoffice draw, in an “origin-story” for the Wizard of Oz being directed by Sam Raimi, who’s had some difficulty getting back on his feet after getting sucker-punched off the “Spider-Man” franchise… the only place up to this point where he’s been able to back up his considerable fanboy street-cred with serious boxoffice. “John Carter,” meanwhile, is supposedly seriously overbudget ($250 Million officially, said to be waaaaay more than that unofficially) had a trailer that interested pre-aware fans but confused the crap out of everyone else; capped off by a reception at D23 that was largely described as underwhelming-to-disasterous by the very web-press most eager to get a look at it.
That’s two potential big-budget duds in the offing, and it’ll be doubly-humiliating for The Mouse if “Avengers” is the only project that makes money – since it was already in planning/production before Marvel was part of Team Mickey, the narrative will be that while the subdivisions (Marvel and Pixar) are hitmakers “Disney proper” doesn’t know what it’s doing. Incidentally; “Oz,” “Carter” and “Ranger” all “belong” to the same producer team; Rich Ross and Sean Bailey. Thus, however much of an expensive mess “Lone Ranger’s” production might already be, the aforementioned knowledge that audiences evidently cannot get enough of Johnny Depp galavanting through bloated CGI setpieces is hard to ignore from a financial standpoint.
Incidentally, how likely do you suppose it is that someone at The Mouse has already floated the idea of trying to fit Depp into “Tron 3” as some kind of waaaaaaaacky program?