With Cowboys And Aliens having ruined supernatural Westerns for everybody, two more high-profile, equally expensive films in that strangely specific genre have now fallen apart. As previously reported, Universal balked at mounting Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s sprawling, three-film-and-two-TV-series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, while Disney just pulled the plug on its already-slotted The Lone Ranger, despite its seemingly can’t-miss formula of nostalgia, Johnny Depp, and digital werewolves. Still, not all hope is lost for either project, apparently, according to stories that both hit today.
First up, Howard and Grazer tell the New York Post that they’re currently looking for outside funding for The Dark Tower, and that they still plan to release it through a major studio while also going ahead with the planned TV versions on a different, non-NBCUniversal network or Netflix. However, while Javier Bardem is still reportedly attached to the project and the scripts are supposedly ready to go, don’t expect to see it anytime soon. The earliest Grazer expects that they can begin working on it is June of next year, owing to the way Howard began snatching up projects when it looked like Tower was falling apart. In other words, they’ve given you an entire year to forget they ever brought it up.
There’s not as much leeway with The Lone Ranger, as Disney has only given the Pirates Of The Caribbean team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski a week to salvage their project by scaling back all of the things that made it Pirates Of The Caribbean on horses, basically, which probably sounded like a great idea until about mid-July. As suggested earlier, all of the supernatural elements from the early drafts of the script—all the myriad werewolves and vengeful Native American spirits—have already been cut, leaving only the huge, hugely expensive action set-pieces to contend with, including one The Hollywood Reporter describes as “the biggest train sequence in film history.” Of course, it definitely looks like Verbinski and Bruckheimer are being set up to fail here, as if they were to remove the set-pieces, all that would be left is the story—and clearly, Disney doesn’t want that.