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Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger' resumes production

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Johnny Depp
Juan Naharro Gimenez/WireImage.com

Maybe there’ll be a little less silver in those bullets, but The Lone Ranger has cut costs enough for Disney to give the movie the green light. Disney announced today that the film is back on track, and the new release date is May 31, 2013. “Johnny Depp, Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski are such a talented combination and we’re thrilled to get back to work with them on The Lone Ranger,” a Disney spokesperson said.

The update on the classic cowboy epic was set to star The Social Network’s Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp as Indian scout Tonto, but when the budget soared to $250-million-plus, and Universal/DreamWorks’ Cowboys & Aliens underperformed at the box office, studio heads cried “Whoa!” In mid-August, two months before shooting was set to begin, the film faced the possibility of being scrapped completely.

Since then, director Gore Verbinski (the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have been negotiating with the studio in a bid to lower projected costs to a more manageable $215 million and keep the movie alive. The script, which adds heavy supernatural elements to the Western, was tweaked to reduce visual effects costs, and the stars are said to have accepted upfront salary concessions (likely to be repaid on the back end if the movie is a hit.)

The current target is for a February start date, when we will once again hear: Hi-yo, Silver! Away!

On Twitter: @Breznican

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