Disney shuts down production on The Lone Ranger

In a thoroughly surprisingly move, Disney has shut down production on The Lone Ranger , the Johnny Depp-starrer that was set to be a winter 2012 tentpole.

Deadline broke the news, citing budgetary concerns as the main halting factor. Apparently the budget, which has been reduced to somewhere north of $200m, was still too high for Disney.

It seems there are other projects sapping the Disney dollar, with John Carter requiring considerable reshoots, and Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great And Powerful also needing a hefty amount of financial backing (again, circling the $200m mark).

It seems that The Lone Ranger was the easiest project to kill, even though it had already racked up pre-production expenses, and Johnny Depp's 'pay or play' contract means he'll still be picking up his cheque even if the film doesn't go ahead.

This cancellation still comes as a huge surprise though, not least because it reunites the Pirates Of The Caribbean team of Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

And that's not to mention the cast they had in place, with Armie Hammer set to play the title character, and Helena Bonham Carter on board as a brothel madam.

Right now, it's uncertain whether or not Bruckheimer will try to shop the project to another studio.

A number of ambitious projects have been dumped recently, including Guillermo del Toro's At The Mountains Of Madness and Ron Howard's The Dark Tower , but none seemed as bankable as Ranger .

If we get any news on a potential saviour for this project, you'll here about it here.