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'The Lone Ranger': Johnny Depp's Film May Ride Again

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JOHNNY DEPP
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If and when "The Lone Ranger" actually hits theaters, it's getting to the point that the pre-roll could feature a prologue with enough drama to rival the film's actual story arc.

Back in August, Disney confirmed that they had shut down production on Depp's big screen revival of the classic radio and TV western, balking at a $250 million price tag put forward by the star, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The move pitted the studio against its "Pirates of the Caribbean" team, with Hollywood keeping close tabs on whether or not they'd find a happy medium.

Word was that, earlier in the month, the two sides were set to meet to discuss a pared down budget, and according to Deadline, the studio now has "guarded optimism" that the film may get made.

What that means, budget wise, remains to be seen; Disney wants a $200 million film, while Depp and co. may not have come down that far. One bone of contention -- and whether or not it has been shaved down, remains to be seen -- is its supernatural aspects, according to the website Hollywood-Elsewhere.

"It was going to be a Tonto show mainly. Tonto as the top dog and more dominant than the Lone Ranger," a screenwriter tracking the film told the site. Depp would play Tonto, while "The Social Network" and "J. Edgar" star Armie Hammer would play 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."

That would, indeed, make sense; for Depp, the film is a passion project meant to make right the injustice of the sidekick role to which Tonto was relegated in the original series.

"I liked Tonto, even at that tender age, and knew Tonto was getting the unpleasant end of the stick here. That's stuck with me," Depp told Entertainment Weekly earlier in the year of his childhood affinity for the show. "And when the idea came up [for the movie], I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to -- 'eliminate' isn't possible -- but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in 'The Lone Ranger,' but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head."

Depp will next be seen in this fall's Hunter S. Thompson adaptation, "The Rum Diary," and is currently filming a remake of the hit 60s and 70s show, "The Dark Shadow."

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