Verbinski was active in several L.A. rock bands early in his career. He played in the Daredevils, Bulldozer, The Drivers, and the all-star band The Cylon Boys Choir. He was also in a band called The Little Kings, which backed Stiv Bators on his version of "Have Love Will Travel" with legendary drummer Chris Poobah Bailey. Along with a cover of the Moody Blues song "The Story in Your Eyes" (by other musicians), the song was released by Bators in the Fall of 1986 as a 12-inch single on Bomp! (catalogue #12136) and was later included in Bators' compilation album L.A. L.A. On the compilation album's liner notes, label owner Greg Shaw described the band as "an adequate but rootless Hollywood glam-damaged band with tattoos".
His first films were a series of 8 mm films called "The Driver Files" c. 1979, when he was a young teen. He started his career directing music videos for bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, 24-7 Spyz and Monster Magnet working at Palomar Pictures. Verbinski moved from music videos to commercials, where he worked for many brand names including Nike, Coca-Cola, Canon, Skittles and United Airlines. One of his most famous commercials was for Budweiser, featuring frogs who croak the brand name. For his efforts in commercials, Verbinski won four Clio Awards and one Cannes Advertising Silver Lion.
After completing a short film, The Ritual (which he both wrote and directed), Verbinski made his feature film directing debut with Mouse Hunt. The film was a hit globally and he soon followed up the success with the action/comedy The Mexican, starring Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. The film received mixed reviews, and performed modestly at the box-office, earning $68 million domestically which was quite meager considering its star power (it was technically successful due to its moderately low $38 million budget). Verbinski followed it up with the horror film remake The Ring (2002), which struck gold globally, grossing well over $200 million worldwide. Verbinski also had a directorial hand in The Time Machine that year, temporarily taking over for an exhausted Simon Wells. Verbinski directed some of the underground Morlock sequences and is given a Thanks to credit in the film.
In 2011 and 2013, Verbinski would delve into the Western genre, with decidedly different results: Rango was well receieved, critically and commercially, and earned the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. However, his adaptation of the 1930s radio hero, The Lone Ranger for Disney, was not, the project having been stuck in development hell for several years, undergone rewrites and budget cuts, and gained controversy for the casting of Johnny Depp as the Native American Tonto. The film grossed $260 million against a $215-225 million budget, plus an estimated $150-160 million marketing campaign.
He has been announced to produce and direct a remake of the film Clue, based on the board game. His future project will be an adaption of William Monahan's novel Light House: A Trifle, which is a story about an artist running away from the Mafia who hides in a lighthouse, in which kooky characters live. He will also direct Butterfly, a psychological thriller about a man trying to drive his wife insane.
^ abGraser, Marc (25 June 2013). "Disney, Bruckheimer See ‘Lone Ranger’ as New Genre-Bending Superhero". Variety. Retrieved 26 June 2013. "The picture cost approximately $250 million to produce, and more than $150 million to market and distribute around the globe ... Pre-production was halted until the filmmakers could wrangle the cost down to a more manageable $215 million ... Despite all the strife over the budget, the ultimate cost of “The Lone Ranger” ballooned during production. Bruckheimer says he and Disney were responsible for covering the film’s overages. Studio reps say the pic cost around $225 million, but sources say it was considerably higher."