Last we reported, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp‘s take on The Lone Ranger was put out to pasture because of concerns of a huge budget. Now Deadline Hollywood is reporting that the film has finally got a contained budget and is going to try to start shooting in 2012, with an official announcement due next week.

The bottom line on this story is that big budget blockbusters have hit critical mass. A film like Pirates of the Caribbean 4 was stripped down and smaller than its previous entry, and still cost over $200 Million dollars. But most summer event films this year cost at least if not more than $200 Million – even if their listed production budget was much less. That means that a film needs to do about a half a billion worldwide to be profitable.

On top of that, there aren’t that many available brand names to pillage any more, so where investing $300 Million in a film like Transformers 3 seems reasonable, it’s much less so for a franchise that doesn’t have the same sort of innate appeal to audiences. Harry Potter is done.The more obvious step would be to invest in new original material to grow new franchises, but that’s not the current thinking – especially after something like Cowboys and Aliens.

But summer and winter need their event films, and Johnny Depp is still great internationally. And so it seems we’re getting a better budgeted blockbuster. With a date change, it’s hard to say if Armie Hammer will still be available, we’ll know more next week.

Are you excited for Johnny Depp as Tonto?