'The Lone Ranger': $215 Million Budget Decision For Depp, Disney

Johnny Depp's $200 Million Bet

The showdown over "The Lone Ranger" is coming down to a final financial shootout three sunsets from Saturday.

A few weeks back, Disney shut down the pre-production on the planned Johnny Depp-starring big screen remake, unhappy with a proposed $250 million budget coming from director Gore Verbinski.

The film called for Depp to star as Tonto, the Lone Ranger's traditional sidekick, in a kind of role reversal in which the Native American character would take the lead in the pursuit of justice. Armie Hammer, best known for his dual work in "The Social Network" and a co-star in the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar Hoover biopic, was set to play the title character.

Depp and Verbinski have worked to pare down the budget, though the high-powered actor refuses to go ahead without Verbinski, eschewing suggestions that perhaps a less ambitious director would help with cost-cutting. Now, Variety reports that the two sides are set to meet early next week, following the Labor Day holiday, to hash out whether they can get on the same financial page and move forward with the film.

The shutdown was an unexpected turn of events, given the studio's massively successful partnership with Depp and Verbinski on the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, which together grossed over $2.5 billion worldwide. But with Disney pouring big money into films such as "John Carter" and "Oz: The Great and Powerful," word was that they were uncomfortable putting a quarter billion dollars into production, and more into promotion, of a film based on a radio serial and 50s TV series.

The movie is a passion project for Depp, who has spoken of his love of the series and his desire to portray the famous sidekick in a more fair, powerful light.

Depp has a long line of other films on the docket, even if this one doesn't work out. He just signed on to produce and star in a remake of the classic noir book/film series, "The Thin Man," and is currently filming a big screen adaptation of the bizarre goth TV series, "Dark Shadows." There's also word that he'll adapt the TV show "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" into a film, as well as develop and star in a film based on Paul Revere.

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