New Mexico: Another Iconic Backdrop for The Lone Ranger


In an article published earlier this week, we wrote aboutThe Lone Ranger‘s Utah film locations. We also mentioned in the same article that Utah wasn’t the only state featured in the Disney blockbuster. The production also filmed for three months last year in New Mexico, in and around the Rio Puerco Valley.

 

The Film Locations

With Armie Hammer as the iconic masked hero and Johnny Depp as the mysteriousTonto, The Lone Rangerwas filmed in 16 New Mexico locations, including ShiprockAngel Fire, and Valles Caldera.

Rio Puerco, located 36 miles west of the Duke City, was transformed into two towns, Colby and Promontory Summit, both of which are featured prominently in the film. For most of the three months, Rio Puerco also served as the home base of operations for the The Lone Ranger.

In addition to the Rio Puerco Valley, the production also filmed at a few other New Mexico locations including:

• Lamy where the Hell on Wheels and Reid Farm scenes were shot. 
• The natural rock formation of Plaza Blanca in Abiquiú stood in for the “Valley of Tears” locations.
• The Valles Caldera National Preserve was the setting of the Comanche warriors’ village.
• The Gilman Tunnels in Jemez were the backdrop for the train scenes.
• The Pajarito Mountains provided the dramatic setting for the last stand of the Comanche warriors.

In addition to Utah and New Mexico, the production also filmed in Colorado, Arizona, Texas and California.

 

The Perks of Filming on Location in New Mexico

Filming on location brings much authenticity to the movie. Sometimes, that also means a strong dose of reality. In The Lone Ranger’s case, it was the Rio Puerco Valley wind. It was strong enough (25 to 70 mph) to earn the nickname “The Devil’s Sandbox.” The windy weather forced the crew to wear scarves, bandanas and goggles over their faces for protection.

“We had the movie shut down because of blizzards, lightning strikes, floods, and sandstorms,” said Hammer. “To get this done has been a challenge, and I think that you’re going to get a sense of how epic it is and the scale of the undertaking it was for everybody involved.” 

PHOTO CREDIT: Shiprock, New Mexico - one of the film locations of The Lone Ranger. (Photo is from here.)

PHOTO CREDIT: Shiprock, New Mexico - one of the film locations of The Lone Ranger. (Photo is from here.)

“When you see the picture, you’ll see the authenticity, and that’s what’s wonderful about this movie,” stated producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “We’re in the real locations, not using a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery). In a lot of films these days, the environments are artificially created. This is the real deal.”

Hammer loves the variety of landscapes in New Mexico. “At the end of the day, I just camped out at night, which was amazing. At first, it was just me and a couple of transportation dudes camping out,” he said. “Over time, more people started joining us. Some of the other actors started coming in and sleeping in their trailers. Gore (Verbinski) was camping in his trailer as well.”

When you see the picture, you’ll see the authenticity, and that’s what’s wonderful about this movie. We’re in the real locations, not using a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery). This is the real deal.
— Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of The Lone Ranger.

Wayne Rauschenberger, chief operating officer at Albuquerque Studios, said The Lone Ranger is the first Western made at the studios. Other productions shot at the studios were The Avengers, Book of Eli and Terminator: Salvation.

“With The Lone Ranger, we’re able to show production companies that we can convert our area into anything,” said Rauschenberger. “We did a good job at meeting the requirements, and Disney got feedback from Marvel about how we were capable to do a film like this. We’ve now demonstrated from all ends of the spectrum that we have the staff and crews here to handle big budget films. The Lone Ranger is just the latest example of that.”

Rauschenberger believes The Lone Ranger will entice other productions to shoot in New Mexico. “It’s a nice feather in our hat,” he said. “To be able to complete one of the most anticipated films of the summer is a great thing for us.”

For more details on The Lone Ranger setting up camp in New Mexico, read this article.


The New Mexico Film Office

Over 600 movies and television shows have been filmed in New Mexico. Among these productions are The Grapes of Wrath, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Crazy Heart, No Country for Old Men, and Breaking Bad.

For more information on filming in New Mexico, visit the New Mexico Film Office (a Reel-Scout client).

Browse New Mexico’s film locations. 

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Image above via Google.

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