October 28, 2016
        "Live By Night', "Passengers", and "Silence": What still hasn't screened this year?                Justin Timberlake to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards: “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!”                Ten Contenders will compete for Best Documentary Short Subject                "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"        

Disney pulls the plug on Johnny Depp’s “The Lone Ranger”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Disney reportedly has shut down Gore Verbinski’s planned production of “The Lone Ranger,” which had cast Armie Hammer as the hand of justice and Johnny Depp as the Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto.

Budget concerns were cited by a source speaking to THR, who said that the director “balked” at the tight budget number set by the studio.

“One concern for the studio, according to an insider, is that even though Depp is the biggest star in the world, the project is a western, and the genre is having some dark days, particularly in light of the recent poor showing of ‘Cowboys & Aliens,’” the trade reports.

I find it a little hard to believe that the poor showing of Jon Favreau’s fizzled tentpole scared Disney, which hasn’t stopped counting its “Pirates” money from this summer’s “On Stranger Tides.” And Verbinski certainly showed that he and Depp have the power to lure massive audiences with odd material, as evidenced by the first three “Pirates” films they told together.

Also, Verbinski and Depp just collaborated on “Rango,” an animated Western – of sorts – that won over crowds.

Something else seems fishy here. Could the project have script problems? Did Disney blink in the face of stiff competition for next December, when “Lone Ranger” was due to open alongside Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi?”

Either way, this is a shocker. And as THR notes, it raises questions regarding the health of Disney’s relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and its most bankable star, Depp, whom they wanted to film a fifth “Pirates” film … and soon.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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