Human cartoon Johnny Depp has had a bad run over the last few years. He's starred in a string of flops ranging from the ill-advised The Tourist to 2013's embarrassing Lone Ranger and now the disastrous Mortdecai, and he has scarfed his way out of the affections of many fans, myself included. Even his seemingly bulletproof Pirates franchise has seen diminishing domestic returns, suggesting that the hometown crowd is tired of his schtick, at least.
Depp's ever-increasing box office woes have been a refrain for a while, but Mortdecai is an indefensible bomb. It's the second worst opening of the year so far, behind the DOA Blackhat. It would seem that audiences are well and truly over Depp, that he has finally exhausted the goodwill Jack Sparrow brought him. Which is why he's making Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Not Dead Yet. The movie is on track to go into production next month to meet a 2017 release date (filming on the ocean is TERRIBLE and takes forever).
Pirates remains tremendously popular overseas (here he is arriving in Japan with Amber Heard)—like Transformers, the international market will keep this turd afloat—so it’s understandable why Depp is returning to this well, even if it’s no longer quite so deep. He’s earned an incredible amount of money from the Pirates franchise, but I’ve heard that with his box office now in “unreliable” territory, Depp is taking a pay cut on Pirates 5. It’s not unprecedented—he cut his quote to make The Lone Ranger, but that was a passion project—and he didn’t end up earning $75 million for Pirates 4 as was initially reported. The first thing studios come after when box office starts decreasing is actor salaries, so the $95 million he was rumored to get for Pirates 5 is a fantasy at this point. He’ll still make a lot because this entire system is completely f*cked, but it’s less of a lot than it was five years ago.
The few remaining Movie Stars are no longer indestructible. When I first started writing for LaineyGossip, we talked a lot about the death of the Movie Star, but I always assumed that last generation to gain their status in the 1990’s would stand as a kind of monument to the previous era. Instead, we’re seeing them begin to scramble as their names don’t hold quite the same luster. Depp is going back to Pirates, Matt Damon is returning to Bourne, Tom Cruise is on another Mission, and not even Brad Pitt is a gold-standard guarantee anymore. It’s not just that we’re not producing new Movie Stars, the few that remain are taking themselves out.