A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! In New York City on Wednesday evening, Disney unveiled 20 minutes of footage from Gore Verbinski's upcoming summer blockbuster "The Lone Ranger," starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the title law enforcer.
"I'm excited to be here and show it to you," producer Jerry Bruckheimer told an audience that included journalists, industry workers and two "Lone Ranger" co-stars: Hammer and Ruth Wilson. "What you're about to see is still very rough," Bruckheimer continued, before showing two extended sequences from the film's first act. "You're getting in our kitchen before it's fully cooked. We're very confident about what we're showing you, otherwise we wouldn't be showing it to you."
Bruckheimer stood in for Verbinski, who is still "working very hard trying to finish the movie," according to the producer. Disney is set to release "The Lone Ranger" on July 3, less than three months from now. "It's always a labor of love and you don't want to give it up, so he's not giving it up for a while," Bruckheimer noted.
Simply getting to the point where Disney could screen any footage of "The Lone Ranger" has been something of a task. The film was initially set up with Depp and Bruckheimer back in 2008, but it wasn't until 2010 that Verbinski -- who worked with Bruckheimer and Depp on the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films -- came onboard to direct. "The Lone Ranger" was set for release in December of 2012, but that date was scrapped when the production was shut down in August of 2011 because of concerns that the film would cost upward of $250 million. Just over one month later, however, "The Lone Ranger" was back on track thanks to what THR reported were monetary concessions made by Depp, Bruckheimer and Verbinski. In the end, it didn't necessarily matter: By June of last year, THR reported that "The Lone Ranger" budget was, once again, nearing $250 million as production extended to almost five months. ("It was a long, long shoot," remarked Wilson.)
Judging from the footage screened on Wednesday, though, Verbinski and Bruckheimer spent every penny. The first sequence, which Bruckheimer said occurred about 15 minutes into the film, focused on Hammer's John Reid -- a recently graduated lawyer heading back home -- and Depp's Tonto fighting with a group of outlaws on top of a runaway train. There was a playfulness to the sequence thanks to Depp (his Tonto is like some combination of Charlie Chaplin and Captain Jack Sparrow), but the scale and effects are massive. It's the kind of set piece you might expect to see in the final hour of a blockbuster, not the first 15 minutes. (As Bruckheimer warned, however, the effects were not yet completed.)
The rest of the scenes shown on Wednesday weren't as epic, instead focusing on the key relationships in the film: Reid and his older brother Dan (James Badge Dale), a beloved Texas Ranger; Reid and his ex-girlfriend (Wilson), who's now married to Dan; and Reid and Tonto. That last pairing worked best in the footage, with Depp treating Hammer like R2D2 treats C3PO: as a friendly and neurotic nuisance. (The effectiveness of Hammer's chemistry with Wilson was much harder to discern.)
Depp "was ceremonially adopted into the Comanche Nation during filming" (he has identified as having "some Native American" ancestry), but his portrayal of Tonto is sure to raise some eyebrows. (Depp-as-Tonto says "kemo sabe" exactly how you would expect Depp-as-Tonto to say "kemo sabe.") Neither Bruckheimer, Wilson or Hammer discussed the decision to cast Depp in the role of a Native American at the event on Wednesday, but Hammer did talk about his onscreen partner with the Los Angeles Times last week.
"It's so funny, because every Native American we talked to was like, 'This is awesome! I'm so excited.' And every white person we talked to was like, 'How dare you cast a non-Native American?'" Hammer said. "It's like, the white people are the one who have the problem, but the Indians -- the Native Americans -- are like, 'This is great. We love it.'"
"The Lone Ranger" rides into theaters on July 3. Watch the film's newest trailer above.