Walt Disney Pictures has halted production on The Lone Ranger, Deadline reports. This comes as surprising news as the project has been fully cast and was planned to begin shooting this fall.
Described by Verbinksi as "'Don Quixote' told from Sancho Panza's point of view," the film was to star Armie Hammer as the titular western hero with Johnny Depp as his Native American sidekick, Tonto. The supporting cast was to include Ruth Wilson, Dwight Yoakam, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale and Barry Pepper.
The reason for the move is said to be due to ballooning production costs and an increasingly expensive upcoming slate for the studio. Still, the most recent collaboration between Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, has grossed more than a billion dollars internationally. That film also belonged to a franchise launched by Verbinski.
Though planned for a December 21, 2012 release, the future of The Lone Ranger is now uncertain.
UPDATE:Variety is now reporting that Disney still plans to move forward on the project but is in the process of bringing down costs in order to do so. Whether this will result in a delay of production remains to be seen, but check back for updates as they become available.