The newest film to shoot in our fair state is The Banshee Chapter. The modestly budgeted horror film is being produced by actor Zachary Quinto’s Before the Door Pictures. Quinto is best known as Sylar on the TV show “Heroes” and as Spock in J.J. Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek. No word on whether Quinto will star in the film. The film is to be written and directed by Blair Erickson, who’s making his feature film debut with this one. Chapter is allegedly based on a series of real CIA programs, and it concentrates on a female journalist who goes in search of a friend who’s been experimenting with mind-altering chemicals developed in secret government drug tests. Shooting is scheduled to go in front of the lens in late August.
The newest film not shooting in New Mexico is Disney’s big-budget reboot of The Lone Ranger. The film, starring Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as his faithful sidekick Tonto, was to be directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Depp, Verbinski and Bruckheimer last collaborated on the Pirates of the Caribbean series, making this a major tentpole release for Walt Disney Studios. Unfortunately, industry sources say preproduction has been shut down on the film. Local casting notices already went out for the film (under the not-so-clever code name Silver Bullet) and shooting was set to take place later this year near Silver City. As of now, both casting and shooting are on hold. There’s not a lot of information as to why Disney shut down production, although most are saying the suddenly cost-conscious studio wants the film to shed at least $50 million of its whopping $250 million budget. You can bet the box office underperformance of Cowboys & Aliens (which also shot here in New Mexico) helped build that newfound reluctance on the part of Disney’s money people. If the budget can be lassoed back into compliance, Disney might turn the green light back on. But with a project containing this much starpower, one small stumbling block can upset the whole enterprise. Here’s hoping the film gets on track and New Mexico gets the benefit of another big Hollywood project by year’s end. If not, we can always go back and watch the ill-fated, New Mexico-shot 1981 reboot The Legend of the Lone Ranger starring Klinton Spilsbury. Or not.