For a while there The Lone Ranger looked DOA, but today it’s actually in production. In fact, it’s shooting right now. Though the film reunited the Pirates of the Caribbean creative team of Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, (now Academy Award winning) director Gore Verbinski and writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio with Disney, it looked to be too expensive for their tastes, and they passed. But budgets were shuffled and now they’re going forward for a May 31, 2013 release.

The film also stars Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale , Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter. Hammer will be the titular Ranger – though it’s likely he’s playing it slightly comic, and that Depp’s Tonto is the real lead of the piece. Fichtner is the bad guy, and it seems likely that Ruth Wilson is the love interest. But, as Wilson played a slightly off but likeable serial killer in the BBC series Luther, it’s also possible that she’s playing a femme fatale.

Disney sent out a press release about the film, calling it “Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer films epic adventure” which suggest co-ownership – though the Bruck has had a shingle at Disney for a while. Perhaps 2010′s double failings of Prince of Persia and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice has made that shingle a bit looser.

Here’s their plot description:

The Lone Ranger is a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

May 31 seems like an odd date, though the way summers are prepared now, it’s what they’ve got. The first week offers Iron Man 3, the second Pacific Rim, then comes Star Trek 2 a week later, which is followed by Fast and Furious 6. There are also two wide releases for the 4th of July. It’s possible we could see one of these bump to a winter release date before 2013.

The problems Disney was facing when this nearly didn’t happen are the same: it’s still a western, which proved disastrous for Cowboys And Aliens, and it’s an expensive redress of a cultural figure that has no great weight to youth culture. Now they have new problems: Armie Hammer is a couple years off of The Social Network at this point, J. Edgar didn’t help, and Mirror Mirror looks like a bomb in the making. And it’s interesting to note that Fichtner joined the cast about a week ago, so some decisions were very last minute.

The good news is that Verbinski is a very talented filmmaker, and he seems to understand Depp, so we’ll probably get an interesting movie regardless.

Are you happy they’re making a Lone Ranger movie?