This is a great article about some recent complications that have arisen during the development of the Disney film, The Lone Ranger.
Production on a big budget Hollywood film can be a Catch-22. The film needs to be produced at a major studio in order to have adequate funding. However, studio executives will provide input about the project and put certain limitations on the production based on their experience and calculated returns on the project. This input can often change the nature and intent of the screenplay.
In the case of The Lone Ranger. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross asked the director of the project, Gore Verbinski, to trim the budget from $275 to $200 million. Since westerns do not typically yield a large gross at the international box office and Cowboys and Aliens did not do well this year, the Disney executives wanted to cover themselves should the project fail at the box office. This is completely understandable because the executives are running a business in a very risky industry. Ross and his team at Disney calculated that the return for the Lone Ranger only justified a $200 million budget.
In order to cut the budget to appease the executives at Disney, Verbinski had to rethink and restructure many of the stunts and spectacles in the script. The cuts that he made to the script changed the nature and intent of the film. Yet, they needed to be made in order for the project to get produced at Disney.
This is a major dilemma that producers in Hollywood often face. With each cut, the nature, quality and intent of the film changes. So, it becomes the producer’s job to ensure that the original intent of the film remains intact amidst the flurry of input from executives and directors. At the end of the day, the producer’s role in the project is to insure that a quality film is made that appeases everyone’s interests in the project. Doing this can be extremely difficult, which is why I have great respect for all producers working in Hollywood.