Over the weekend, it was announced that Disney had shelved its plans for a remake of "The Lone Ranger," which was supposed to have starred Johnny Depp as Tonto and was being made by Jerry Bruckheimer, because of budget concerns.
The project, based on the original radio series that later became a TV series starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, had people excited as a classic property that had potential to be re-told in the modern age. Think "Mask of Zorro" (and hopefully not "Legend of Zorro.")
Disney wanted to make the movie for $200 million, but the budget had soared to $250 million, leading to the studio pulling the plug.
It's an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, a quarter-billion is a lot to sink into any film. On the other hand, Bruckheimer usually delivers for the studio, as can be attested by the "Pirates of the Carribean" franchise. It helps that both franchises have Depp, one of the world's most bankable stars.
Movie costs have been spiraling upward for years now, thanks to added special effects and things like 3-D. And that doesn't include more marketing dollars being spent (what Hollywood calls soft money) that usually aren't counted in the announced cost of the film (hard money). Thus, the hard money for "Lone Ranger" would have been $250 million for actors, prop men, costume designers, horses, sets, etc.
Every summer, the movies have to be "bigger" than the previous summer's fare, which ultimately leads to the law of diminishing returns. Filmmakers and studios try to cram too much into movies visually these days, sacrificing a good story in its stead.
I'm not really sure what the extra $50 million would have bought on "Lone Ranger," but it seems that the studio and the producers should be able to make a movie these days for $200 million that can satisfy moviegoers.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "Teen Wolf" (MTV, 10 p.m.) wraps up its first season, which has been pretty satisfying. It's not the best show of the summer or of its genre, but there's enough mix of horror and comedy to make it watchable.
ABC Family has "Secret Life of an American Teenager" and "The Lying Game" from 8-10 p.m., while SyFy has three hours of "Eureka," "Warehouse 13," and "Alphas" from 8-11 p.m.
Showtime has "Weeds" and "The Big C" from 10-11 p.m. On TNT, "The Closer" and "Rizzoli & Isles" are new, beginning at 9 p.m.
On the networks, "The Bachelor Pad" (ABC, 8 p.m.) is new. Fox has "Hell's Kitchen" and "MasterChef."