Pitch Meeting

by wjw on July 6, 2013

Thanks to Eric D Snider and his eerie command of the NSA archives, we now have a complete transcript of the pitch meeting for the new Lone Ranger movie.

Let’s listen as the geniuses at Disney work their magic.

DISNEY EXEC. #2: What’s your concept for it? A faithful recreation of the classic character just as people remember him wouldn’t work, obviously.
DISNEY EXEC. #3: That never works.
DISNEY EXEC. #1: Not that we’ve ever tried it.
DISNEY EXEC. #3: Well, it doesn’t take a genius to see that when people go to a movie about a fictional character they’ve loved since childhood, the LAST thing they want is for the character to be portrayed the way they remember him.
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: No, of course. Our version is going to be different because we’ve got Johnny Depp to star in it.
DISNEY EXEC. #1: Johnny Depp as the Lone Ranger??
DISNEY EXEC. #2: That doesn’t make any sense at all!
DISNEY EXEC. #3: We love it!
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: Not as the Lone Ranger — as Tonto.
DISNEY EXEC. #1: Johnny Depp as Tonto??
DISNEY EXEC. #2: That makes even less sense!
DISNEY EXEC. #3: We love it more!
DISNEY EXEC. #1: That’s $300 million domestic right there. People love Johnny Depp!
DISNEY EXEC. #2: Audiences are in no way tired of his quirky oddball performances!
DISNEY EXEC. #3: A disheartening sense of sameness definitely has not crept into those performances!
DISNEY EXEC. #1: He was great in the three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
DISNEY EXEC. #2: There were four “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
DISNEY EXEC. #1: Get outta here!
DISNEY EXEC. #2: There were!
DISNEY EXEC. #1: That can’t be right.
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: Now, Johnny has a few stipulations…
DISNEY EXEC. #2: The movie has to be bloated, overlong, unnecessarily complicated, yet somehow also simple-minded?
JERRY BRUCKHEIMER: For starters. He also feels strongly that the Tonto character should be a dignified representative of Native Americans, and he wants to convey this by wearing a dead bird on his head.

Juanma Barranquero July 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm

“He also feels strongly that the Tonto character should be a dignified representative of Native Americans, and he wants to convey this by wearing a dead bird on his head.”

Did you read this review?


Specifically, these two paragraphs (warning, SPOILERS):

“First things first: Johnny Depp is still playing Tonto. (Yeah, he’s 1/32 Cherokee or something—yet Jay Silverheels, who played him on the television show over sixty years ago, was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian. So this is not looking so great on the progress front.) That alone might be enough to set your heels sizzling, and that’s completely fair. His makeup as Tonto is inspired by a painting done by Kirby Sattler in 1991 titled “I am Crow,” which does not depict any actual American Indian regalia at all, but was instead dreamed up by the (white) artist. Still not looking so great. Also, he is basically an American Indian version of Jack Sparrow. The bird on his head even looks like his famous leather tricorn from certain angles. Hmm.
Except the movie then goes out of its way to explain Tonto’s backstory and make it clear that his appearance and behaviors have nothing to do with him being an American Indian. All the magic he talks about, all the great spirits he invokes, and all his goofy posturing are affectations meant to guard him against a trauma. We do see actual American Indians in this film, and they are treated with a great deal of dignity and respect without descending into the condescension of “noble savagery.” The truth of how they were treated, framed, and depicted by white settlers is set in stark relief against Tonto’s antics and makes his brand of madness even more understandable—in face of the loss all these peoples suffered, it might be easier to play into stereotypes and let people think you’re a little bonkers. At least then you’ll be left to your own devices more often.”

DensityDuck July 7, 2013 at 9:00 am

“That’s $300 million domestic right there. People love Johnny Depp!”

Sadly, this is probably true.

DensityDuck July 7, 2013 at 9:03 am


So the movie is hanging a lantern (or, we might say, hanging a dead bird) on Johnny Depp being a cartoon Indian instead of an actual Native North American?

That’s pretty subtle. But why would the movie go out of its way to have a cartoon Indian? Why not just have an *actual* Indian?

(silly me. Because if it had an actual Indian then Johnny Depp wouldn’t get to be Jack Sparrow again, and Johnny Depp being Jack Sparrow is what gets butts in the seats.)

Juanma Barranquero July 10, 2013 at 12:35 am

I see nothing wrong with wanting to get as many “butts in the seats” as possible, if done right. I haven’t seen the film, but it seems (judging by the review) that it was.

Did you hate “The Cloud Atlas” because of non-Korean Koreans?

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