In March 2002, Columbia Pictures announced their intention to make a Lone Ranger film with Classic Media, who owned the film rights at the time. Husband and wife producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher joined the project. The tone was to be similar to The Mask of Zorro, and Columbia suggested that Tonto be re-written as a female love interest. The projected budget was set at $70 million. In May 2003, David and Janet Peoples were hired to write the script. By January 2005, the Peoples script was rewritten by Laeta Kalogridis, with Jonathan Mostow to direct.
The Lone Ranger languished in development hell. In January 2007, The Weinstein Company was interested in purchasing the film rights from Classic Media. However, the deal fell through, and Entertainment Rights eventually optioned the property. By May 2007, producer Jerry Bruckheimer (alongside Entertainment Rights) set The Lone Ranger up at Walt Disney Pictures. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who had worked with Bruckheimer and Disney on the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, were being considered to write the script. In late March 2008, Elliott and Rossio were in final negotiations. Disney then announced in September 2008 that Johnny Depp would be portraying Tonto.
The Elliot/Rossio script had a supernatural tone, and has since been rewritten by Justin Haythe. In May 2009, Mike Newell, who was then directing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time for Bruckheimer and Disney, entered negotiations to direct The Lone Ranger. However, Bruckheimer explained the following June that he wanted to wait on hiring a director until Newell completed Prince of Persia, and until Depp finished filming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. "The priority is most definitely Pirates 4," Bruckheimer commented. "They are going to cast the title role once they get a director and Disney greenlights. We don't have a director yet." In September of 2010, Gore Verbinski was hired to direct. Filming was slated to begin after Depp finished work in Dark Shadows. Actor Armie Hammer will play the role of The Lone Ranger. It was announced in July 2011 that British actress Ruth Wilson has been cast as Rebecca, the female lead in the movie. Dwight Yoakam, Helena Bonham Carter and Barry Pepper are all currently in negotiations for the movie.
On August 12, 2011, Disney announced that production on The Lone Ranger would be delayed due to budget concerns. However, on August 15, 2011, it was revealed that The Lone Ranger had been shelved for the foreseeable future due to said budgetary concerns, as well as the under-performance of another Western-genre film, Cowboys & Aliens.
On October 13th, 2011, Disney confirmed that Johnny Depp's The Lone Ranger is back on track with a projected release date of May 31st, 2013.
Helen Bonham Carter