In a forum Rossio runs, he responded to postings by the media and forum members. Alas, his responses raise as many questions as they answer.
Below are the postings, Rossio's responses (in italics), and my responses to him.
No. Completely inaccurate in every detail, save a bit at the end ... you can't do a film with a Native American character and not 'flavor' it with some doses of spirituality. Other than that, a rather complete mischaracterization.
Admittedly, Native movies often mention spirituality these days. But it's usually pretty mild: a few references to ceremonies, beliefs, or spirits. And it's certainly not a requirement. Depending on how Rossio defines spirituality, some Native movies lack it.
Tonto not the star?
As for Tonto's role...Tonto isn't the dominant one of the pair? That's not what people have been saying. Some quotes on the subject:
The Lone Ranger as Don Quixote?
"Tonto needs to be in charge," says Depp, who is part Cherokee Indian. "The Lone Ranger should be a fool, a lovable one, but a fool nonetheless."
As for the werewolves, "no werewolves" is potentially misleading, since the movie could have hundreds of supernatural creatures or spirits that aren't werewolves. Skinwalkers, Wendigos, sasquatches, shapeshifters, demons, spirits, and other things that go bump in the night. If the movie has no supernatural element whatsoever, where did the rumors come from?
Let's not even get into how there's no such thing as a generic "Native American spirituality." Rather, there are hundreds of tribal cultures with hundreds of versions of spirituality. Rossio's reference to the generic doesn't inspire confidence.
Why the $250 million budget?
You would have said the same thing before the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and you would have turned out to be wrong.
The Pirates movies had Johnny Depp in the role of a lifetime. A dozen other movies starring Depp didn't do nearly as well. The Lone Ranger might be another Pirates, or another The Tourist, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, or From Hell.
Here you make the mistake that the script, or screenwriter, can control a budget. Scripts get written and designed on the desires of studios, directors, producers, and stars. And studios feel more comfortable making big spectacle bets these days; a mid-level budget is harder to green light than an upper budget event film.
Most action/adventure and superhero movies are budgeted in the $150-$200 million range these days, at most. But a Western needs to exceed them all by 20-30%? How do you figure?
Disney may not greenlight mid-range movies, but they also don't greenlight high-end movies at $250 million. They're negotiating for a budget of $200 million, which suggests they prefer spending in the same $150-$200 million range. So who's missing the boat here: the commenter above, or Rossio and company?
I do like how Rossio is shifting the
No special effects?
It's incorrect for you to presume a high budgeted film has many special effects. The budget of the (now cancelled) Lone Ranger was high because of plans to shoot on location, with lots of extras. I don't know that there was a single effects shot planned; probably, but the usual 'enhance the background' stuff. (Actually I take that back, I think there were some animal shots planned to be done as effects.)
The studio would not proceed with the film at any budget without Johnny Depp.
The success of "POTC" came from creating a single character that captured our imaginations.
This is an utterly false premise. You've discounted Geoffrey Rush. You've discounted Kiera Knightly and Orlando Bloom. You've discounted the thrill of swordfighting skeletons in the moonlight.
I agree with Rossio's critics about the success of Pirates. Nice of him to spread the credit to the other actors, but try selling Pirates V without Depp and see what happens. Every actor in the franchise is replaceable except him.
Disney understands this, which is why they wouldn't do The Lone Ranger without Depp. They clearly hope to replicate the success of Pirates. I'm confident they're looking for lots of swashbuckling stunts and SFX a la Pirates, Zorro, National Treasure, Indiana Jones, etc. If there's a quiet scene of Tonto saying a prayer or performing a ritual, I'll fall out of my chair in surprise.
Lone Ranger = Zorro
Rossio disagreed with the posting that said The Lone Ranger wasn't going to be another Zorro. That means it is going to be another Zorro. Unless Rossio didn't understand what he was saying.
The Mask of Zorro is a good point of comparison. The character is a nostalgic pulp hero in an Old West setting. The charismatic Antonio Banderas played him with style and panache. The movie cost $95 million and earned $250 million worldwide. That probably makes it a moderate success.
The Lone Ranger supposedly has none of the swordfighting skeletons that made Pirates a hit. Unless Rossio is misleading us, as I said. It's going for big live-action scenes a la Zorro. Again, why in the world would you expect The Lone Ranger to perform like Pirates and not like Zorro or From Hell (a period thriller starring Depp that earned only $75 million worldwide)?
I'm still not seeing a justification for the budget or for casting Depp. A $100 million movie with Armie Hammer and a Native actor could take off like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, etc. None of these franchises required big-name actors to carry them. Like the Lone Ranger, they relied on the audience's familiarity with the characters and concepts. That approach would work for this movie too.
For more on the subject, see Disney May Revive Lone Ranger and Werewolves Doomed Lone Ranger, and Disney Shuts Down Lone Ranger.
Below: A movie where Natives have no spirituality because they're bloodthirsty savages who eat people. Co-written by Terry Rossio.