Sony lassos rights to “Lone Ranger”

That’s right, kemosabe, Sony’s Columbia Pictures has obtained the rights to the 70-year-old legend The Lone Ranger. With a budget of roughly $70 million, Sony plans to remake the classic tale with some modern new spins.

In the original story, lawman John Reid is left for dead in an ambush with five other Texas Rangers but is nursed back to health by Tonto, an Indian scout. Reid then turns vigilante and decides to avenge the murder of his comrades, using his trademark silver bullets.

But the Lone Ranger’s trusty sidekick may be different from the original character that appeared in the popular 1950s television show. According to Variety, Tonto may come in the form of a bosomy young woman.

The deal could be worth a reported $1.5 million for Gotham-based Classic Media, who owned the rights. The remake would be along the same lines as The Mask of Zorro, which Sony brought to the big screen in 1998, and would be produced by Doug Wick, who produced Gladiator.

Sony’s new take on the Lone Ranger will hopefully fare better than MCA/Universal’s ill-fated attempt in 1981. Most people remember The Legend of the Lone Ranger not for John Reid’s hearty “Hi-yo, Silver,” but for the legal battle that ensued between the TV series’ original star, Clayton Moore, and the studio over the character keeping his infamous black mask in the movie version.

The Lone Ranger, first broadcast Sept. 15, 1949 on ABC, became the most popular television show of the decade and starred Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto. The show ended its successful run Sept. 12, 1957.