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Johnny Depp, “Lone Ranger” get new start date

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: UPDATE! And now “The Lone Ranger” has a release date. Disney has programmed Gore Verbinski’s film for May 31, 2013, giving he and hi team plenty of time to perfect the special effects that will go into this remade Western.

EARLIER: The on-again, off-again production of “The Lone Ranger” that director Gore Verbinski plans to film with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer appears to be back on. Again.

Though Disney put the project on ice due to budget concerns, Deadline now says that Feb. 6 has been selected as a production-start date, with all of the major players on board for the show.

In Verbinski’s “Ranger,” Hammer would play the masked lawman, while Depp would play his faithful sidekick, Tonto. Rumors at the time of the production shutdown said the plot centered around Tonto (no surprise, with Depp in the part), and may have involved heavy doses of Indian mysticism and werewolves. Yes, you heard that right. Werewolves.

The studio hesitated when Universal’s “Cowboys & Aliens,” which also blended sci-fi and Western tropes, struggled to lure massive crowds over the summer. So even though Verbinski and Depp delivered the strange but lucrative “Pirates” franchise, Disney was reluctant to cut the duo a blank check.

Deadline wasn’t sure if Verbinski would be able to keep the previously announced Dec. 21, 2012 release date. I’d say it’s unlikely, and “Lone Ranger” will become a summer tentpole for 2013. But we’ll report whatever we hear as soon as the studio solidifies its plans.

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Photo courtesy of PRPhotos.com.

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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