Thread: "The Lone Ranger" shut down
08-14-2011 03:58 PM #1Banned
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"The Lone Ranger" shut down
Over budgetary concerns.
It was just this week Iger noted the soft Home Video market impacting their studios. Of course, there are those who state that Blu-ray is "sustaining" new release revenue despite studio lay-offs and shifts in projects getting green-lit (or shut down in this case).
You know things are bad when a Johhny Depp / Bruckheimer film has the plug pulled.
Disney on Home Video declines:
Benjamin Swinburne - Morgan Stanley
Bob, on the film business, you were one of the earliest ones to out call the trends in home video. You made a lot of changes in the cost structure. Can you just update us today on where all that stands? You've brought distribution together at the studio. Is there more to come on the expense front in terms of overhead reduction at the film business, given the trends there? Or do you think you've rightsized it?
Well, I think we'll continue to watch trends. I don't think they've necessarily been heading in any more positive direction. I think the attention that we're paying right now, the costs is more in the production of films than necessarily in the structure of the studio. And it's our intention to take a very careful look at what films cost. And if we can't get them to a level that we're comfortable with, we think that we're better off actually reducing the size of our slate than making films that are bigger and increasingly more risky.
Perhaps they can revive it with a lower budget. Considering the box office had a record July 2011 (and international is doing well) they can still get this going despite the declines in sell through for new releases.
08-14-2011 04:03 PM #2Banned
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We all know failing OD is causing delays/budget cuts/shut downs. Blu-ray is not picking up the slack like they thought it would. 3D also tumbled this week...so that "savior" didn't pan out.
08-14-2011 04:15 PM #3
(original breaking source)
UPDATE: Johnny Depp is in Europe right now, but really wanted to make The Lone Ranger. According to one insider, "Let's see how it all shakes out on Monday. There's always a chance that it could go. You never know until you know." The deeper story behind this production stoppage is about how movies are costing too much, studios are giving major pushback, and today's backdrop of a crazy economy. Everyone involved is still intent on the project and still in discussions to see what can be done. But the studio's concern is spending over $200M on a Western, even with Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp and a comedic slant. So clearly Disney took drastic action. Now the studio and filmmakers are trying to figure out the next step, either to shop it elsewhere or put it back together at a later date at a lower budget.
EXCLUSIVE: In a stunning development, Disney has shut down production on The Lone Ranger, the Gore Verbinski-directed period Western that was to star Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the title character. Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer and the script is by Justin Haythe. I'm told this all just happened, and Disney pulled the plug because of the budget. I've heard the filmmakers were trying to reduce the film's cost from $250 million (some even say $275 million) down to $232 million. But it wasn't the $200 million that Disney wanted to spend. And between Depp, Bruckheimer, and Verbinski, the gross outlay on the film is substantial.
When the plug was pulled, the film was still casting up, with Ruth Wilson, the serial killer from the BBC's Luther series, set for the female lead. And The Lone Ranger was scheduled to be released Dec. 21, 2012, smack up against The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens Dec. 14, and the Brad Pitt-starrer World War Z, which was just slated for Dec. 21. This becomes the second major Western-themed project to bite the dust, after Universal halted a mammoth adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower. And is it coincidence that The Lone Ranger halted right after another Western, Cowboys & Aliens, proved a pricey disappointment for DreamWorks and Universal?
Halting tentpole movies is certainly is happening with more regularity in Hollywood lately. Universal recently halted production on a version of At The Mountains Of Madness that Guillermo del Toro was going to direct with Tom Cruise starring, and it also halted an adaptation of King's The Dark Tower that Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Akiva Goldsman were ready to do, in a trilogy of movies and two limited run TV series. And just this week, DreamWorks halted Southpaw, a boxing drama that has Eminem set to star in his first role since 2002's 8 Mile with Antoine Fuqua directing. It's clear that studios are making their bets more shrewdly, particularly with the economic uncertainty that has rocked the stock prices of parent companies of film studios. Even if it means bruised feelings from stars, directors and producers accustomed to having it their way.
This had to be an incredibly tough call for Disney's Rich Ross and Sean Bailey, but they have several huge live-action bets on the table already. Budgetbusters include John Carter, the Andrew Stanton-directed adaptation of John Carter of Mars with Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch in the lead role, which has a budget that has ballooned to around $250 million; and The Great and Powerful Oz, the Sam Raimi-directed James Franco-starrer, is hovering around $200 milllion. But principals Bruckheimer, Verbinski, and Depp have minted money when they've worked together for Disney. Bruckheimer is the longtime cornerstone producer on the Disney lot. Depp has starred in the studio's all-time biggest films including Alice in Wonderland and the four Bruckheimer-produced Pirates of the Caribbean films. Depp and Verbinski teamed for three Pirates installments, grossing billions of dollars for the studio. And Verbinski most recently directed Rango, the Paramount film that is a frontrunner for Best Animated Film Oscar and which grossed $243 million worldwide. Disney has four of the 10 all-time top worldwide grossing films in Hollywood history, and three of them starred Depp. That includes Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which Verbinski directed and which grossed $1.066 billion. The most recent Pirates installment also cracked the $1 billion mark this summer, and Disney's only other film on that all-time Top 10 list is Toy Story 3.
The Lone Ranger has a long history, but Disney counted on Depp to make it relevant with a comedic twist. The series began on the radio in 1933, then became a TV series that ran from 1949-1957, and both were wildly popular as the masked Lone Ranger and Tonto fought crime in the Old West, with the Lone Ranger calling out "Hi Yo, Silver! Away!" as his horse took off.
08-14-2011 04:21 PM #4
I can see why. A quarter of a BILLION dollars for a western? As much as I love the genre, it's all star salary. Unless they get stupid with it and turn it into steampunk.
08-14-2011 04:31 PM #5Member
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- Aug 2011
Just to be clear, despite the existence of "high margin" VOD and EST, this project was cancelled.
It is quite clear that VOD and EST are not contributing what they were expected to contribute if projects are getting cancelled.
Interesting...when Netflix and Redbox are at their peak, the studios are hurting the worst. Surely there must be a correlation between the prevalence of cheap rentals and declining purchases. It's almost as if Netflix and Redbox have jointly killed the purchasing model.
08-14-2011 04:52 PM #6
With so many random twists and turns making everyone want to take their money back, it feels like the stock market is being directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Fears of a double-dip recession accelerated this week due to the downgrading of American credit and wild fluctuations on Wall Street, and businesses everywhere are on edge, waiting to see whether the hardships that hit in 2008 will strike again. Hollywood is no different, though the traditional view is that entertainment is recession proof. People still want to be entertained, perhaps more so in tough times… um, right?
“Yes and no,” says Karie Bible, box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “People always say, ‘Everyone went to the movies in the Great Depression to escape their troubles,’ but really there was only one studio [MGM] in the black back then. Everyone else was bleeding red.”
Though box office rose in 2009 after the economic collapse in late 2008, studios across the board have clearly felt the pain, suffering layoffs, and cutting back on more risky big-budget pictures to maintain fiscal austerity. (MGM, coincidentally, has struggled to remain in existence.)
We’ve already seen budget-wary Universal kill pricey projects like a trilogy and TV show based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness. Studios are still making movies, but they’re also taking fewer chances.
Escapism does fare well, but … “[Films] about the thing that’s bothering everyone? Not so much,” says Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners.
So maybe that Wall Street sequel wasn’t the best idea. (The original hit in boom times, remember.) And Margin Call, opening this fall, may have its work cut out for it.
Image Credit: Barry Wetcher
So what’s behind that idea that movies are recession-proof?
“Generally, when economic downturns hit, we have seen an increase in box office and attendance in six of the eight last recessions,” Corcoran says. “People seek relief in forgetting their problems, so they go to the movies, and it is the least expensive form of entertainment.”
Do you scoff at that assertion, because ticket prices have been rising? Okay, that’s true, but so have the costs of everything: sporting events, stage shows, and pretty much all types of outside-the-home amusement. When money becomes tight, “people tend to cut back on big-ticket things, like theme parks and concerts,” Corcoran says.
Movie tickets have had a steady creep upward, particularly when the premium of 3-D is added in (and the always overpriced popcorn and a package of Skittles still requires a second mortgage on your home,) but they are still are on the low end of the cost spectrum when compared to other diversions.
Box office rose 0.6 percent in 2009 and was up 5 percent in 2010. In the midst of a seeming recovery, sales have been down this year, 4.8 percent, according to Bible. Corcoran says this summer has been better, thanks to Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the final Harry Potter movie, but even if tough times presage better box office, theaters aren’t immune to the crisis, particularly in the way it dried up credit. “We’re in the middle of a big digital transition and some of that involves financing,” says Corcoran. “We would be farther along than we are if it weren’t for difficulties in the economy.”
Another sector of the film industry that can be hard hit: indie flicks. Studios can finance their own pictures, but those scrappy, upstart filmmakers trying to convince outside investors to take a chance on their stories have found a lot less of that money in recent years, and fewer studios willing to spend on acquiring the next Napoleon Dynamite or Blair Witch Project.
It also hurt that there was a kind of “indie bubble” thanks to that movie and others, which led studios to pick up some movies for wide distribution that just wouldn’t have a mainstream appeal. “Historically, funding for independent film has suffered in times of economic hardship, and a part of that is, in flush times, there’s a rush into that space,” says Keri Putnam, former production chief at Miramax and current executive director of the Sundance Institute. “That certainly happened in the 2000s.”
Sales picked up at this January’s Sundance Film Festival, with movies like the bittersweet romance Like Crazy and the cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene getting distribution, though the price tag ($4 million and a little less than $2 million, respectively) were a lot less than the record $10.5 million paid for Little Miss Sunshine in 2006.
Right now, Putnam says it’s too soon to gauge what broader investor fears will do to the indie market. “I haven’t heard of any deals falling through,” she said. “It’s way too soon to worry.”
When it comes to a shaky economy, it’s the one time Hollywood is just fine with an anti-climax.
08-14-2011 06:45 PM #7
This seems VERY foolish. Doesn't Iger know that UltraViolet will save home video by the time this movie comes out?
08-14-2011 06:51 PM #8
awwww, really wanted to see Dwight Yoakum as Butch Cavendish. He was great in Slingblade.... but I don't think he was really "acting" in that movie.You better call Kenny Loggins. 'Cause you in the DANGER ZONE!
08-14-2011 07:04 PM #9Banned
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Bob Iger has been very forthcoming about the declining conversion rates for Home Video (calling the decline "sobering") as well as stating very clearly that there is a secular shift in Home Video not related to the economy.
Disney pulling the plug on this project (especially in light of record Box Office in July 2011) is another clear and unambiguous sign of how Hollywood is suffering from the very real decline in new release sell through for Home Video. Again, one that Disney themselves have characterized as beyond the economy.
I know that even with this latest news (beyond the other discussion of projects not getting green lit and the layoffs at studios) that people will try and point the finger outside of the OD sell through decline for new releases.
That trend (just like the secular shift in Home Video) is not one I expect to change.
08-14-2011 07:34 PM #10Banned
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08-14-2011 07:50 PM #11Member
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- Jan 2008
Believe it or not films were being made before the 'home video' market existed and projects got axed all the time then too.
Maybe they should try a novel concept like making actually good films with a thing once called acting, instead of big budget crap. Just a thought.
08-14-2011 08:27 PM #12
Lol, it may have something to do with Disney's stock price and the uncertainty with the economy. Their stock took a beating recently and their theme parks are very much impacted during tough economic times. No doubt home video is not helping, but it is much deeper than just home video.
And UV won't save Disney because they are not a member.
08-14-2011 08:33 PM #13
Negative growth for EST ain't paying the bills either..
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08-14-2011 08:39 PM #14Banned
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Unfortunately, Disney is in the same boat with the rest of the studios. Blu-ray is simply not sustaining new release revenue for the Home Video market. Blu-ray is the cross-industry supported and anointed successor to DVD.
Indeed, it is the ONLY active cross-industry standard other than DVD. I am sure when the studios look at YoY growth for an entire half that is under 10% then they are rightfully concerned about the growth rate and patterns.
You know there are serious issues when a Bruckheimer / Depp film loses support just a couple of months before production was to begin. The industry is adjusting to the secular changes and not even a record breaking box office month can offset the impact of the industry supported format showing such anemic growth.
08-14-2011 08:46 PM #15
It's very obvious it's secular AND economy.
Ultimately, the result is the same, economy/secular changes causing people to choose cheaper buying options which have better value as well + buying habit changes that are long term.
This basically fucks over all of home media revenue, digital/OD or otherwise. At least OD has an inherent value at this point and time. Digital does not and needs to work from the ground up. It's going to have to compete against tough options. Redbox/Netflix right out of the cages.
Unfortunately, I think digital/UV will be too little/too late. DOA until proven otherwise.