Articles from September 2011

Latest rumor: LONE RANGER to begin shooting in early 2012?

Another Friday afternoon brings yet another rumor from the Disney studios about the fate of the Jerry Bruckheimer-Gore Verbinski Lone Ranger reboot; fortunately, after the shocking mid-August announcement that Disney was shutting down production on the film, the official leaks have grown steadily more positive. Now Mike Fleming at reports that Disney is likely to have its budget stalemate resolved “by next week, and can start rehiring crew so that the picture will be ready to begin production in January or February.” That’s great news! Fleming has consistently had the inside track on this story, so we will hope his sources are as good as ever.

If Lone Ranger can’t start shooting until early next year, how will that affect its personnel and release date? Will Verbinski be able to keep his intriguing cast intact? “How that late start impacts the December 21, 2012 release date remains to be seen,” Fleming writes, “but Johnny Depp will get to play Tonto (Disney wouldn’t make the movie without him), and Armie Hammer will be back in as the title character. Ruth Wilson, the scene-stealing killer from Idris Elba’s British cop series Luther, is also expected back as the female lead.” We hope the other announced supporting players will also be able to continue with their roles.

The Zone thanks Chocolat for sharing the news; you can read much more about Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Mike Fleming’s article is available HERE.

Here’s Barnabas! ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY has official DARK SHADOWS cast portrait

The photo at left is the first official image of Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabas Collins in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, and Zoners with good memories will detect more than a passing resemblance to the creator of the Barnabas Collins role, Jonathan Frid. The new issue of Entertainment Weekly features a stately portrait of the decidedly eccentric Dark Shadows cast in poses which mimic a cast photo of the original ABC cast. The resemblance, director Burton assures EW’s Anthony Breznican, is intentional: “I remember seeing a group photograph of the cast of the original series. [. . .] For me it captured the weird Dark Shadows vibe in a single image. I had a brief window of opportunity to have our cast present at the same time, the day before principal photography began. We decided to stage a similar picture instead of rehearsing, to see if we captured the Dark Shadows feeling.”

You can see Burton’s Dark Shadows cast photo HERE. Pictured from left to right are Helena Bonham Carter (Dr. Julia Hoffman), Chloë Moretz (Carolyn Stoddard), Eva Green (the witch Angelique Bouchard), Gulliver McGrath (David Collins), Bella Heathcote (governess Victoria Winters), Johnny Depp (the vampire Barnabas Collins), Ray Shirley (the maid Mrs. Johnson, seated), Jackie Earle Haley (groundskeeper Willie Loomis), Jonny Lee Miller (Roger Collins), and Michelle Pfeiffer (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard). You can compare today’s cast to the 1960s version HERE.

The Zone thanks Emma, Lu, and Theresa for sharing news and pictures. You can read more about Dark Shadows on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Two new posters for THE RUM DIARY!

In a sure sign that promotion for Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp, is just around the corner, two brand new and decidedly different posters for the film have just been released in the U.S. The first image places its emphasis on the “diary” aspect of the title, showing Johnny’s Paul Kemp character in a professional mode, as a sharply-dressed and keen-eyed reporter. To see the first poster, CLICK HERE. The second poster definitely emphasizes the “rum” aspect of the title, and stresses the personal (we won’t say unprofessional) side of Paul Kemp. Here he’s barely dressed and presumably bleary-eyed as he stares out the window. To see the second poster, CLICK HERE.

The Zone thanks Dosya, Emma, and Theresa for sharing the posters; you can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

The Rum Diary opens in North America on October 28th.


Here’s a video to put a grin on your face–a few bloopers from Rob Marshall’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp as the iconic Captain Jack Sparrow:

This is just a hint of the fun to come with the North American release of On Stranger Tides on Blu-ray and DVD on October 18, 2011. Current pre-order prices at are $16.99 for the DVD and $31.99 for the 5-disc Blu-ray combo pack.

The Zone thanks Shawn Cauthen at for sharing the blooper video. You can read more about the Blu-ray and DVD release of On Stranger Tides on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Latest rumor: “Guarded optimism” for LONE RANGER to ride again

Disney’s final decision regarding the fate of the Jerry Bruckheimer production Lone Ranger, to be directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, was expected after the Labor Day weekend, according to knowledgeable industry sources . . . yet all has been eerily quiet on the Lone Ranger front. Until now. Mike Fleming, who was the first to announce that production on Lone Ranger had shut down, reported this on Friday: “For the first time since Deadline broke the shocking news that Disney had pulled the plug because of a huge budget on the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger [. . .], insiders tell me that things are starting to look up for the film and there is now optimism that the picture might actually get made.”

That’s great news! Fleming gives no other details from his inside sources, but his track record on this story is solid. “Don’t be surprised if The Lone Ranger rides again,” he concludes, and we certainly hope he’s right. You can read Fleming’s article HERE.

The Zone thanks SeaGoddessCalypso for sharing the good news; you can read more about the ups and downs of Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

THE RUM DIARY to premiere in Los Angeles on October 13th!

The world premiere of Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and Aaron Eckhart, will take place in Los Angeles on October 13, 2011. The Rum Diary premiere will launch the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, presented by the New York Times, and will screen at the Bing Theater of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Director Bruce Robinson and actors Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and Aaron Eckhart are scheduled to attend.

Here’s what the press release had to say about The Rum Diary: “Director Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I) returns to the screen with an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, a gonzo-eye’s view of a world first charted by Graham Greene. Writer Paul Kemp hits the streets of Puerto Rico only to find true emotional instability at the newspaper where he works. The Rum Diary is a passion project produced by its star, Johnny Depp, and co-stars Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins.”

The Rum Diary will be released nationwide on October 28, 2011.

The Zone thanks Emma for breaking the news; you can read more about The Rum Diary premiere on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

First photos of Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in DARK SHADOWS!

As the filming of Tim Burton’s re-imagining of Dark Shadows draws to a close, location shooting in Devon has brought us our first glimpse of Johnny Depp in character as Barnabas Collins — well-bundled-up in suit, coat, fedora, and dark glasses. Well, vampires need protection from the sun (and paparazzi). To see a larger view of the photo of Johnny as Barnabas, CLICK HERE, and to see full-length photos, CLICK HERE, and HERE. For photos of Johnny alone on the rocky shore and talking with a crew member, CLICK HERE and HERE.

The Zone thanks Emma and Theresa for sharing the photos. You can read more about Dark Shadows on the Zone’s News & Views forum, and a lively discussion of the pictures on the Pit General Discussion forum.

“You don’t recognize how lucky you are”–catching up with Freddie Highmore

The photo at left shows a ten-year-old Freddie Highmore playing Peter to Johnny Depp’s J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. Now Freddie (real name Alfred) has completed his first year at Cambridge, where he is studying Spanish and Arabic, but he still has Johnny Depp on speed-dial. “At that age you don’t recognize how lucky you are,” Freddie recently told Hannah Nathanson of the London Evening Standard. While working with Johnny and Kate Winslet on Finding Neverland, “You’re not aware of their celebrity. I just saw them as friends.”

And did Johnny specifically request that Freddie be cast as Charlie Bucket in Tim Burton’s blockbuster Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which Johnny played Willy Wonka? “I’ve never been told that directly by anyone who worked on Charlie,” Freddie said, “but a lot of people seem to say how good it was to work with me. It was great to work with Johnny twice. He doesn’t see himself as being better than anybody else because he’s a better actor.”

Regarding the craft of acting, Freddie says, “Johnny didn’t give me particular words of advice [. . .]. There was never a moment when he sat me down and said, ‘Now, Freddie, this is what you’ve got to do.'” Instead, the young actor learned by osmosis. “It was more stuff I picked up. If you watch people, like your friends, they have a big impact on you.”

Although Freddie’s film career continues to flourish, and he has moved from child roles to young leading man without missing a beat (his latest film, The Art of Getting By, was just released in the UK), he hasn’t acted in any student theatre productions at Cambridge because he prefers to keep his work separate from his private life. “It’s nice that acting is not always present in my life,” he said — a refreshing change from those celebrities desperate to be in the spotlight every minute.

To see a recent photo of Freddie, CLICK HERE. You can read Hannah Nathanson’s profile of Freddie HERE.

Johnny Depp to appear in documentary on artist Ralph Steadman

What does Johnny Depp do on a Sunday off from Dark Shadows filming? Why, he goes to Kent to visit his friend Ralph Steadman, whose unique art illustrates many works of Hunter S. Thompson, to contribute an interview for a documentary on Steadman’s work. The documentary, For No Good Reason, will debut in 2012; you can view a trailer for it HERE. The photo of Johnny was taken during the interview on Sunday, September 4; to see a larger version, CLICK HERE. That charming fellow sitting next to Johnny on the couch is Ralph Steadman.

“Johnny’s a hell of a nice guy,” Steadman told reporter Chris Hunter of the Kent Messenger, who notes that the artist and the actor “got to know each other through a mutual friend, the writer Hunter S. Thompson.”

Clearly they share a continuing deep affection for the Good Doctor, who died in 2005. “We spent a lot of time on Sunday talking about Hunter,” Steadman told the reporter. “He idolized Hunter.” Steadman described Johnny’s decision to purchase the archive of Hunter’s work as “marvelous,” and said, “I couldn’t wish for anyone better to have it.”

The Zone thanks Ron Mexico and Emma for news and photos about the Steadman documentary; you can read more on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

THE RUM DIARY featured in autumn issue of UK’s Port Magazine

Port Magazine‘s autumn issue includes a feature on The Rum Diary and an interview with director Bruce Robinson! To see a larger version of that glorious cover shot of Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp and Amber Heard as Chenault, CLICK HERE. Robinson explains how he was enticed back to filmmaking after a long hiatus. First, he was offered the opportunity to adapt Hunter S. Thompson’s novel: “Johnny initially got in touch because he liked Withnail [Robinson’s cult classic Withnail and I] . . . .He somehow found me whilst I was on holiday with my family in Spain, and just said ‘Do you want to write the movie?’ So I said, ‘Yes.'”

Directing the film, at that time, was not on Robinson’s agenda. Soured by a nasty experience on his previous feature, Jennifer Eight, Robinson had walked away from moviemaking more than a decade ago. “I didn’t want to ever get behind the camera again, I truly didn’t. But when Johnny asked if I wanted to direct The Rum I thought: ‘This is the world’s number one film star and if he’s prepared to take a chance, then so am I.'”

The results of their collaboration will be coming soon to a theater near you. In the meantime, here are a couple of Peter Mountain photos of Johnny as Paul Kemp to whet your appetite: smoking a cigarette HERE, in a drunken moment HERE, and in stunning silhouette HERE.

The Zone thanks Emma and Theresa for sharing the news and AnaMaria for the beautiful photos. You can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Poster for THE RUM DIARY debuts!

The first official poster for Bruce Robinson’s film of The Rum Diary has been released by GK Films, and its design is original, powerful, witty, whimsical, and slightly decadent . . . as befits a film inspired by a novel by Hunter S. Thompson. The text reads, “One part outrage. One part justice. Three parts rum. Mix well.” And the words of the title are spelled out in miniature bottles of alcohol. You can see a larger version of the poster HERE. The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and Aaron Eckhardt, will be in North American theaters on October 28th.

The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the poster; you can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp presents Keith Richards with GQ’s Writer of the Year Award–new photos!

The photo at left shows Johnny Depp standing at the podium at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, announcing that he is about to present GQ’s Writer of the Year award to Keith Richards, for his autobiography Life. “He’s lived his life on his own terms,” Johnny told the celebrity-packed audience at the Royal Opera House. To see a larger photo of Johnny at the podium, CLICK HERE, and to see a photo of Johnny with Keith and his GQ Writer of the Year Award, CLICK HERE. Award-winning playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard joined in presenting the Writer of the Year honor; you can see pictures of the three genuises celebrating together HERE and HERE.

Richards said that there are plans to film his autobiography; the difficulty is finding someone to portray him. “There are feelers out at the minute [but] I’m in no rush right at the moment,” Richards said. “Also, how are they going to find me? The idea of a succession of Keith Richards coming down is horrifying.” Here’s a suggestion: the actor standing next to the GQ Writer of the Year happens to play guitar, and he looks great in a bandana.

The Zone thanks Gilbert’s Girl, Theresa, and Emma for news stories, and HonestGirl for pictures of the event. You can read more about the GQ Man of the Year Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

The Zone congratulates Keith Richards on his GQ Writer of the Year Award and the success of Life. Well done!

“Cinematic treasure” RANGO to receive Animation Award at Hollywood Film Awards

Gore Verbinski’s first animated feature, Rango, has been chosen to receive this year’s Hollywood Animation Award at the 15th annual Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Film Awards! Congratulations! Rango, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, and Timothy Olyphant, was released by Paramount in March and has grossed nearly $250 million worldwide.

Carlos de Abreu, the Founder and Executive Director of the Hollywood Film Festival, told the Hollywood Reporter, “It is a great pleasure to recognize Rango as the recipient of our animation award. This piece of cinematic treasure borders on surrealism and Rango will be a classic for generations to come.”

The Hollywood Film Awards will be presented at a gala ceremony on October 24, 2011, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. These are the first honors bestowed in awards season, and their Animation Award is a strong Oscar predictor. Several Animation Award winners have also won the best animated feature Oscar, including its four most recent winners, Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).

The Zone thanks Sleepy for sharing the news; you can read more about this story on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Decision on LONE RANGER may be just around the bend, industry sources say

Disney executives will be busy over the Labor Day weekend deciding whether to put their projected tentpole Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, back into production now that producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski have submitted a revised budget for the film. Justin Kroll at Variety reports that Disney executives met with the duo on Thursday “and have decided to take the weekend to decide the fate of the pic. A decision is expected sometime next week.”

Were Disney to greenlight the film now, it could be difficult to be ready to start shooting on the original timetable — early November — and the Lone Ranger start date might have to be pushed to early 2012, after the holidays. Such a delay would, in turn, “make it very difficult” to have Lone Ranger ready for its planned release date of December 21, 2012, notes Variety. The tight deadlines make it crucial for Disney to make its decision soon . . . or to change the release date to accommodate the delay.

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the news; you can read more about Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp won’t make LONE RANGER without Gore Verbinski directing

The complicated negotiations surrounding the future of Jerry Bruckheimer’s Lone Ranger have taken some new twists in recent days; according to, Mr. Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski will be presenting Disney’s Rich Ross with a newly trimmed budget for the film, something “in the $215 million range.” That’s a significant reduction from the previously proposed budget, variously estimated at $250 to $275 million, which caused Disney to shut down production last month. “That’s still not the $200 million number which the studio really wanted,” Deadline reports, “but is lower than the $220 million at which Disney indicated to all concerned it might compromise.”

At Disney’s D23 Expo in late August, Rich Ross told the press that he still wanted to make Lone Ranger: “I’m hoping to do it. [. . .] I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” The conspicuous omission of Verbinski’s name in that statement raised speculation that Disney might want to move forward with a different director.

But if Disney jettisons Verbinski, they will also need to look for a new Tonto. “[I]nsiders tell us that Johnny Depp [. . .] really wants to make The Lone Ranger but won’t do it without Verbinski directing,” Deadline reports. Johnny is known for “unusual loyalty” to his favorite directors and has worked with Verbinski four times, most recently in Rango. So if Disney wants to keep Johnny in Lone Ranger, the studio has “no choice but to keep on Verbinski.” With all their current concern for their bottom line, Disney won’t want to lose the actor who just starred in two films that grossed more than a billion dollars each — Alice in Wonderland and On Stranger Tides. That would make the shareholders very unhappy. So will Rich Ross accept the compromise and greenlight the new budget? We should know soon.

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for breaking the news; you can read more about Lone Ranger on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Deadline article is available HERE.