Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz

For a movie that’s nearly out of theaters, The Lone Ranger has raised a lot of commotion lately. Not only did the filmmakers take a chance to slam critics for the film’s failure, but Disney has reported that the film may lose them somewhere around $170-$200 Million dollars. There’s definitely fallout from this, and the biggest thing seems to be the fate of Pirates of the Caribbean 5, which will now be a smaller movie, and less under the thumb of producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

The Wrap is reporting that not only may Bruckheimer lose final cut privileges, but the budget of the film will be slashed.  As the script is being worked on right now, it doesn’t appear that there’s a proposed budget, but it will likely be much less than the previous film’s $250 Million, and less than The Lone Ranger‘s reported $215 Million budget.

My read on this situation is this: Disney did all they could to not make The Lone Ranger because they knew it might be a bad idea, but the combination of Johnny Depp, Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski meant that the three could make any movie they wanted — as long as the budget wasn’t too bloated — because of their success with the first three Pirates movies. And as much as the trio and Armie Hammer want to blame American critics for jumping on the film early (and to be fair, some of the early reporting compared the film to John Carter, another expensive Disney bomb), some of the failings may have had more to do with a lackluster ad campaign, on top of pop culture awareness of the character being marginal at best.

So what the studio can do now is probably what they always wanted to do: get more control away from Bruckheimer, who’s had a number of high profile flops in recent years (including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), and who may be frustrated working within the PG-13 confines of the Disney machine. Disney may have also been frustrated with Bruck over Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as that was the lowest grossing Pirates movie domestically, but that film made over a billion worldwide (partly because of 3D). The Lone Ranger was something of a victory lap for the Pirates guys, it was a film they got to make because of their previous success, but the system likes keeping people humbled, and this was their humble pie. And now Disney is making sure that both Bruckheimer and Depp eat it.

But seriously, does anyone care about Pirates 5?