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Disney Scraps Depp and Verbinski’s ‘Lone Ranger’

In a surprising and unforseen move, Disney has halted production of Lone Ranger, the new film adaptation of the famed Western hero starring Johnny Depp and helmed by original “Pirates of the Caribbean” director Gore Verbinski.

The reason, Deadline has learned, is because of an oversized budget. Disney intended to spend $200 million on the project, but filmmakers estimated the budget at $250 million and couldn’t swing it any lower than about $230 million. How in the world they planned to sink that much money into an Western (not much CGI needed, unless you add aliens to the mix … ) will — for the moment — remain a mystery.

Deadline has since amended its report to say that everyone behind Lone Ranger wants to get it done, but some major sacrifice would likely need to be made at this point. If nothing else, the film will most definitely not be delivered on December 21, 2012, especially with World War Z having just announced the same release date.

The decision to close shop means Depp’s co-star Armie Hammer, who was set to play the titular ranger but in a second-fiddle capacity based on the nature of Justin Haythe‘s script, is now available for a new project. Studios will likely jump at the chance to fit the rising star into one of their 2013 tentpoles. Hammer was set to star along with Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale and Dwight Yoakam.

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