Johnny Depp might not be able to get away with stone-faced, silent characters or funny hats any longer, since Disney’s new epic western “The Lone Ranger,” burst out of the gate like a horse with a broken leg. With only $48.9 million domestically in its first five days (and just $24.3 million internationally so far) for a production that cost $250 million, and a $175 million worldwide marketing campaign, it seems like the only thing left is the bullet.
The big winner this weekend cost about half of that worldwide marketing cost: at only $79 million, “Despicable Me,” grossed an estimated $142.1 million during the same period.
Internationally, “Ranger’s” no closer to recouping it’s domestic losses. In South Korea it had a worse-than-bad opening with a mere $1.6 million, and according to the “Hollywood Reporter,” failing in this fellow democratic ally will likely signals an all-out Asian defeat.
In regards to Depp though, the entire situation might signal some type of change. After all, it’s only in the past decade that he’s really been catapulted into the A-list, a distinction that began with the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie in 2003. Before that deal, “Sleepy Hollow” was his only $100-million-plus hit.
Depp’s career though is littered with misfires, but because he’s a star as well as a rare talent, he’s in the right place to sustain them. Recent duds like “Dark Shadows” or 2010’s “The Tourist” are examples of this. However, while these releases dived domestically, they thrived overseas where Depp is more invincible. But “The Lone Ranger” is a tougher sell to foreign audiences since it’s a particularly American brand of mythology.
But before writing off the funny hats, remember that he’ll be donning dreadlocks again for “Pirates 5.” But since the somewhat ‘meh’ performance of the “On Stranger Tides,” we’ll just have to see what happens. But to be fair, it’s not just the lead actor who factors into a film’s success, it’s the script, director, marketing, mood of the public, and a fantastic array of other things.
However, as Box Office Mojo analyst Ray Subers wrote in his recent article, “When ‘Pirates’ [first] opened, Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow seemed fresh and exciting; after a decade of playing similarly wacky characters, his portrayal of Tonto in ‘The Lone Ranger’ just felt like more of the same.”