The buccaneer genre was a Hollywood castaway before Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer proved the skeptics wrong with their “Pirates of the Caribbean” mega-success — now the same trio and rising star Armie Hammer want to disprove the conventional view that Westerns are snakebit when it comes to attracting young moviegoers.
Producer Bruckheimer used Twitter on Thursday morning to give the world the first look at director Verbinski’s “The Lone Ranger,” the Disney film that overcame some oddly public budget shoot-outs and will ride against the industry assumption that the Hollywood Western long ago rode off into the sunset as a viable popcorn prospect with young audiences. Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens” experiment didn’t do anything to change that view, although Verbinski’s “Rango” put up an animated argument against the perception.
The photo shows Depp as Tonto — described by Disney as “a spirit warrior on a personal quest” — and Hammer as the masked man who became a pop-culture sensation with radio and television audiences of past generations. Verbinski (now a newly minted Oscar winner) told Hero Complex in early 2011 that he would be taking the mythology in a very different direction and that this version of Tonto (just like Jack Sparrow in “Pirates”) would use Depp’s nimble charisma to add a touch of the absurd to the straight-faced screen traditions.
“The only version of ‘The Lone Ranger’ I’m interested in doing is ‘Don Quixote’ told from Sancho Panza’s point of view,” Verbinski said. “And hence I was honest early on with Johnny that Tonto is the part. We’re not going to do it [straight]. Everyone knows that story. I don’t want to tell that story.”
— Geoff Boucher
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