We can’t imagine that the mood around the conference table with Disney execs, star Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer is all that cheery. With the studio revealing this week that they’re getting ready to take a $190 million hit on “The Lone Ranger,” it seems to have resulted in the stars of the film lashing out at the press, with both Depp and Armie Hammer accusing critics of having their knives out for the movie before it even opened. As silly as that suggestion is, at the end of the day, money talks and right now Disney isn’t ready to risk a couple hundred million more on what could be a costly mess from Depp and Bruckheimer.
The Wrap is reporting that the studio wants to restructure their agreement with Bruckheimer, to lower the budget and take away final cut on the brewing “Pirates Of The Caribbean 5.” Nope, Bruckheimer isn’t the director, but he’s been the longstanding producer on the series, and really, this all seems to be about a power struggle at the moment. Bruckheimer’s deal with the studio ends next year, which wound seem to be the time to renegotiate, but Disney wants to put their foot down early. They’re hoping to keep the budget on ‘Pirates 5’ closer to $200 million instead of $250 million (though really, at those figures, does $50 million really make a difference?), but really their main priority is to have tighter control. Moreover, there isn’t even a finished script for the movie yet, though perhaps locking down the budget limit will determine how wild that script can get.
“Kon-Tiki” helmers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg are currently slated to direct, potentially cheaper duo than previous ‘Pirates’ veterans Gore Verbinski (who wound up going over-budget anyway on the slimmed down ‘Ranger’) and Rob Marshall. That said, it could be a nasty intro to Hollywood for the Norwegian filmmakers if these talks get ugly.
But you know what? Say what you want about authorial control, but the last couple of movies in ‘Pirates’ series certainly could’ve used someone stepping in and saying, “Hey, this might be a bit insane.” They both ran well over two hours and stretched budgets to the bursting point (‘At World’s End’ cost a ridiculous $300 million). So you know what? It makes total sense for Disney to try and get their own grip on the $3.7 billion (worldwide box office haul for the entire series) brand. Because after all, Hollywood is a business and every dollar counts.