Pic to open Dec. 21, 2012, against 'Life of Pi'

Disney already has its Christmas shopping done for 2012, dating “The Lone Ranger” for Dec. 21 of next year.

Starring “The Social Network’s” Armie Hammer as the Masked Man and Johnny Depp as sidekick Tonto, “Ranger” will open against Fox’s “Life of Pi,” directed by Ang Lee, as well as U’s untitled Judd Apatow comedy and Relativity’s “Hunter Killer,” directed by Philip Noyce. But perhaps its biggest competish will be the first part of Peter Jackson’s two-part “The Hobbit,” which Warner Bros. is opening the week before on Dec. 14.

Hammer came on board to star last month (Daily Variety, May 17). Depp has been attached as Tonto since 2008.

Jerry Bruckheimer is producing and Gore Verbinski will shoot sometime in the fall based on a script by Justin Haythe.

“Ranger” galloped into pop culture back in 1933 as a radio show before turning into a TV series during the 1950s and spinning off into movies and comicbooks.The film is set in 1869, when a Texas Ranger is left for dead and saved by a Comanche who gives him a masked identity as “The Lone Ranger.”

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