“Rango” is an oddly philosophical tale of a little lizard, voiced by Johnny Depp, who finds himself wearing the sheriff's badge in a harsh outpost known as Dirt. The Gore Verbinski film is a mash-up of the classic western and a postmodern sensibility –- it’s far less cuddly or cookie-cutter than most animated features, which Verbinski says is by design.
So far, "Rango" has found success, whether at the box office or in awards season. The movie is nominated for an Oscar in the animated feature category, and it just picked up the top prize Saturday at the Annie Awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood.
Verbinski admits, though, that taking chances is never easy. "In a world of data of what works and what doesn't work, when a producer's intuitive responses are trusted less than research, I think it's forgotten that an audience wants something new," he said.
To that point: Verbinski and Depp are re-teaming for a revival of "The Lone Ranger," which would be something of a dusty counterpart to their three "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. Expect a wholly different take on the classic western radio and TV series.
So how did Verbinski come up with those loopy characters? And did the voice cast really wear costumes and meet on a set rather than a recording booth?
The director will join us at 11 a.m. Friday (Feb. 10) for a live chat about "Rango," the Oscar race and more. Sign up below:
Photo: "Rango." Credit: Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount Pictures