Is Johnny Depp losing his mojo? His latest film, the campy Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the '60s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, finished the weekend below industry expectations, grossing a meager $28 million. Odds of recouping the movie's rumored $150 million are looking slim. It's an undeniable disappointment for the actor once thought to be Hollywood's most reliable box office star — and the latest in a series of missteps that may prove that his popularity is fading. Two of his other recent films, The Tourist and The Rum Diary, both flopped, while last summer's Pirates of the Caribbean installment was the lowest-grossing domestic performer of the franchise. Has America fallen out of love with Johnny Depp?
He isn't completely faltering: American audiences may be souring, but Depp's as popular as ever with international audiences, says Steven Zeitchik at the Los Angeles Times. The Tourist was a smash overseas, and the latest Pirates film scored nearly quadruple the gross abroad as it did in the states. Even Dark Shadows eked out $7 million more overseas than it did domestically. After decades as a domestic box office force, his film choices are clearly resonating more with international audiences than American ones.
"Has America fallen out of love with Johnny Depp?"
Other factors are to blame: Depp's not the only reason Dark Shadows underperformed, says Margaret Hartmann at Hollywood. The Avengers was unstoppable, snapping up nearly every ticket buyer for the second weekend in a row. Dark Shadows also doesn't have the universal appeal of Depp's past films: "It seems unlikely that kids will be dressing up as Barnabas Collins next Halloween." But the biggest factor is that "the comedy/horror genre has always been a tough sell." Vampire romances and vampire horror films do big business. (See: Twilight, Underworld.) When compared to past underperforming comedy/horror films, Dark Shadows actually "performed amazingly well."
"Moviegoers prefer their vampires sexy"
It's time for a new direction: This could be a good thing, says Scott "Kubryk" Sawitz at Inside Pulse. With eight collaborations within the same genre, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have "essentially been recycling the same bit for a while now." The disappointing performance of Dark Shadows may be the impetus they need to expand their horizons. Imagine the brilliantly unusual results they'd get from tackling, say the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film together, or from Burton directing the live-action version of Beavis & Butt-Head Depp's been expressing interest in for a while.
"Monday morning critic — Johnny Depp, Tim Burton & Dark Shadows: Where to next?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Could better U.S.-Cuban relations thwart baseball's human smuggling problem?
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- How computers will replace your doctor
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- America is building a Sunni army in Iraq to take on the Islamic State
Subscribe to the Week