March 08, 2012 8:35am PT by Jordan Zakarin
PHOTO: First Look at 'The Lone Ranger' Stars Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer in Costume From Jerry Bruckheimer
In the initial 1949 episode of the TV series of The Lone Ranger, each and every one of the Texas Rangers is killed in an ambush -- except for one. Gravely wounded, he's nursed back to health by a friendly Native American named Tonto, and together they would ride on to grand adventures, taking on the evil Butch Cavendish and his gang as well as loads of other bad guys.
In a strange parallel, the blockbuster movie retelling of the famed western also nearly died, only to be saved in part by Johnny Depp -- the man who had long sought to take on and redefine the role of Tonto.
After production shut down on the Disney film in August due to its sky-high price tag, budget cuts and a few compromises earned it another ride in front of the camera by late September, with a May 31, 2013 release date. Filming began in late February, with director Gore Verbinski, the director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, settling in with stars Depp and Armie Hammer, who plays the title hero, in New Mexico.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who was instrumental in getting the film back on target, tweeted a photo from the set on Thursday morning, providing the first look at Depp and Hammer in their costumes. More authentic -- and ostentatious -- than the original TV series, the two stars look out into the rocky horizon, hardened by the challenges of the wild west. Or, so it can be assumed.
As for what the film lost in cuts, Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter back in October that filmgoers shouldn't be worried about a compromise in quality.
"We cut a sequence involving a coyote attack -- supernatural coyotes -- and a small animated segment," he said. "The train [scenes] are intact. We trimmed it a little bit. Gore made some sacrifices creatively, but nothing that would hurt the film. We had to work it out. The studio set a number, and it was always our responsibility to get to the number."