Disney Drops Johnny Depp's 'Lone Ranger?!'

[caption id="attachment_13109" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Getty Images"]Johnny Depp[/caption]

Is it possible that the Lone Ranger and Tonto are riding off into the sunset once and for all?

Over the weekend,Disney took aim and fired at the expensive production of "The Lone Ranger," which would star Armie Hammer as the Ranger and Johnny Depp as his sidekick, Tonto. The illustrious cast was set to include Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter, Dwight Yoakam and Barry Pepper, with more to come. That's a lot of silver bullets.

Deadline reports that the big budget was to blame; even with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski trying to wrangle the budget down to $232 million, that was still $32 million more than the studio wanted to spend.

Another twist is that Johnny Depp wanted the movie to focus more on Tonto, something that may have contributed to the movie's cost in a roundabout way. He told Entertainment Weekly in May, "When the idea came up [for the movie], I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try to — 'eliminate' isn’t possible — but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in 'The Lone Ranger,' but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head."

Reports have surfaced that an earlier draft of the script included werewolves because of the focus on Tonto, which would have been pricey and dicey indeed. Would people buy a more serious "Lone Ranger" with a supernatural twist?

We're still watching to see how this all plays out. As Deadline notes, the movie could be pushed back from its December 2012 release date or end up at another studio.

Are you bummed to see the Lone Ranger and Tonto get taken down from Disney's silver bullets? Or did "Cowboys and Aliens" sour you on Westerns for the time being?

Or do you just want to see more Depp, no matter what? If that's the case, you're in luck. Here's the stud's Hot People Looking Hot gallery!