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When Disney pulled the plug on the Johnny Depp-starring adaptation of The Lone Ranger just days before it was supposed to go into production, it seemed kind of foolishly optimistic when sources said they would try and work it out. The throwback western was already budgeted for somewhere in the $250-$300 million range, and even if they brought it down to Disney's requested $200 million, it was still a massively expensive movie and a gamble, even if they had all the Pirates of the Caribbean brain trust back for it.

But work on the budget they did, and Deadline reports today that they seem to have finally reached a deal. Apparently the budget is down to a "manageable" $215 million, which still makes it more expensive than the entire worldwide gross of the last Western-themed blockbuster, Cowboys & Aliens. Sure, that movie had a bunch of other problems that had nothing to do with the Western setting, but the fact remains that Westerns are hard to sell no matter how many Johnny Depps you cast.

Of course, everyone said that pirate movies were hard to sell back in 2003, when director Gore Verbinski and Depp made one of the best blockbusters in recent memory with the first Pirates of the Caribbean. That movie was expensive at $140 million, but still not quite this expensive. Despite all this skepticism I really am glad they're going forward with The Lone Ranger, if nothing other than to give Armie Hammer to show of his cowboy chops in the title role. I'm impressed that enough inflated egos could pull it together and slash the budget to make this work-- but I'll only be truly impressed if they manage to take this much money and studio anticipation and actually turn out something good.

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