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Lone Ranger Rides Into Budget Problems Again

You might think massively budgeted misfires like John Carter and Battleship would have filmmakers wary of expensive pictures that require record-breaking box office to garner any profit. But with ongoing news of costly production problems on World War Z and The Lone Ranger, it seems Hollywood is still rolling the dice on movies with fast sinking prospects of profitability.

In the case of Disney's The Lone Ranger, the studio blanched and shut down production late last summer when its producers insisted the action adventure—which reunites Pirates of the Caribbean's director Gore Verbinski with Johnny Depp—would be around the $250 million mark. Estimates at the time figured that after print and advertising costs, the pic would have to make more than $800 million worldwide to be in the black. So Disney demanded the producers find some way to bring the cost down or else The Lone Ranger would not ride again.

From there, Depp and Verbinski took paycuts, which shaved off $10 million, and the script was rewritten, reportedly cutting out effects-heavy elements, including werewolves and " a massive train sequence." This brought the projected cost to $215 million, and Disney gave The Lone Ranger the greenlight once more. But now, THR reports that the production, which began on February 28th, is dragging along, days and possibly even weeks behind schedule, pulling it back up—and possibly over—the $250 million mark. Because of this, backers are forcing Verbinksi to make more cuts—during production—as on-set rewrites attempt to smooth the edges.

Though Verbinksi has a reputation for "budget-busting," he is not entirely to blame for this skyrocketing cost, as the production was repeatedly delayed by severe wind and dust storms that marred the costly set. (It's like Lost in La Mancha all over again!) As it stands now, The Lone Ranger is not expected to wrap production until August, meaning it'll have taken nearly half a year to get this behemoth through its shoot. While this still allows ample time to hit the film's scheduled release date of July 3, 2013, there's really no telling how much more money will be spent along the way, and by extension, how massive an opening The Lone Ranger will require to not be DOA.

Staff writer at CinemaBlend.