Johnny Depp has been hi-yo'd away!
Disney will not be moving forward with a big-screen version of The Lone Ranger that was to have starred the Oscar nominee as a retooled-for-modern-times Tonto alongside up-and-comer Armie Hammer as the titular Western hero, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Guess the foundering economy doesn't discriminate among superstars.
Disney had no comment for E! News, but word is, budget concerns were the primary reason production will not be going forth on what was originally hailed as a possible franchise starter.
A source told THR that attached director Gore Verbinski, who as the helmer of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films certainly knows how to go big, was unwilling to compromise his vision for the film (i.e. work with a smaller budget). Pirates producer Jerry Bruckheimer was the deep-pocketed guy behind the scenes for this one, as well.
Disney also may have balked due to the recent lack of success of the much-hyped but lukewarmly received Cowboys and Aliens, even though the tried-and-true Lone Ranger burned up screens big and small back in the 1940s, '50s and '60s (not to mention radio in the '30s).
But while this is a blow to Western fans and probably to a few egos, as well, Depp fans won't be going without. He recently finished shooting The Rum Diaries, he's starring in the gothic vampire tale Dark Shadows, and he's got a cameo in the upcoming 21 Jump Street movie.