Rumours then began circulating that Disney were thinking of removing Verbinski from the equation and going ahead with the project with a new director, but at the start of the month, Depp did what I really think he deserves a fair bit of credit for. He stood by Verbinski, saying that he wouldn’t make the film without him in the director’s chair.
With that ultimatum in place, Disney really only had two options. Keep Verbinski and work on cutting the budget down to a figure they could accept, or scrap the project entirely. And, as you can imagine, they’ve made the right choice.
News now comes from Deadline that Disney have all but resolved their problems, with an official announcement saying so expected next week, and production for the movie will soon be back on track, with the studio eyeing January/February next year for the start of production.
The film was originally scheduled for a 21st December, 2012 release, at least in the States, and it’s not yet known whether or not the late start will affect that release date, so it’s possible we won’t be seeing the finished product until early 2013 at the earliest. However, given that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is coming out on 14th December next year, followed quickly by Brad Pitt’s World War Z and Judd Apatow’s This Is Forty on the 21st, and then Tarantino’s Django Unchained on 25th, in my eyes, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if the release date was pushed back until January 2013.
Disney clearly already has concerns about whether or not the film will find an audience, given its Western nature, following up from the not-so-solid performance of Cowboys & Aliens at this summer’s box office. So if a late production means a late release that would stop it from being up against some other incredibly big films, then so be it.
Either way, it’s terrific news that the project seems to have had its issues resolved in the past month and a half. A Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, Verbinski-directed, and Depp-starring film is a damn solid combination. And with production set to get underway early next year, it should only be a matter of months before we start seeing photos of Johnny Depp on the set as Tonto, The Lone Ranger’s sidekick.