Monday Morning Quarterback Part IV

By BOP Staff

July 11, 2013

Winning looks painful.

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Kim Hollis: Between Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger, Johnny Depp has experienced two of the biggest flops of the past 12 months. Do you believe he will recover or has the era of Johnny Depp as the #1 box office star in the world ended?

Jay Barney: Despite what I just wrote with the Disney analysis, yes I think his status as the number one star in the world has waned a bit. I am not exactly sure what that means, though, because he is still one of the biggest draws in the world. So what if he is not number one? Just being in the discussion as one of the top stars means they have a track record of success. We don't even need to take a look at the start of his global stardom, just look at the last three years. Pirates of the Caribbean IV made over $1 billion. Alice in Wonderland made over $1 billion. He may not ever be the "clear" #1 again, but Dark Shadows and Lone Ranger aren't enough to pull him out of the discussion.

Edwin Davies: To me, Johnny Depp was never one of the biggest stars in the world: Jack Sparrow was. Depp's one of those people who's pretty much always been famous, always been in the public eye and always able to get work, but he was never really a huge draw in his own right. But he was able to star in lots of small, interesting films and build a reputation as everyone's favorite actor, and occasionally he'd be in a film like Sleepy Hollow which did really well.


Then the first Pirates film came out and he suddenly became a whole new level of famous. That success carried over into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, both of which benefited from his prior relationship with Tim Burton and beloved source material, and obviously fed into the success of the Pirates sequels. However, all of these films either featured Jack Sparrow or had Depp play a character which basically filled the Jack Sparrow space; quirky, off-kilter supporting character who played off of leads who just had to be straight-men/women to his antics. If you look beyond these films, though, we see that most of the films he has appeared in have gravitated to the same sort of level that he achieved prior to the Pirates films. Some, like Public Enemies, do better than others, but generally they just do okay. Having Johnny Depp in them no doubt helped films like Finding Neverland and Secret Window to do better than they would have otherwise, but his involvement in them didn't make them huge hits just by his presence. If he wasn't wearing a pirate hat or walking through black and white striped landscapes, he wasn't that big of a draw.

What's changed now, as far as I'm concerned, is that people have soured on the Pirates films, which peaked commercially with the second one and saw diminishing returns from there. Now, the fifth Pirates film will still probably do really well, better than it probably deserves to, but Depp's career in general seems to be slowly reverting back to the mean, something which not coincidentally coincides with the decline in popularity of his most famous character.

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