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Lionsgate Admits Mortdecai was a 'Disappointment'

Does the movie's failure point to a deeper problem for Johnny Depp?

Story by Matt Cummings
First there was Dark Shadows, then The Lone Ranger, then Transcendence. Now, Lionsgate is having to admit another of their Johnny Depp enterprises has fallen on hard times. Speaking to Variety, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer admitted has asserted that Johnny Depp’s caper comedy Mortdecai will be a “very manageable” loss for the studio despite its terrible box office performance.

“It’s clearly a disappointment,” Feltheimer told analysts Friday during a company conference call to discuss earnings for its third quarter which ended on December 31. Mortdecai, which cost $60 million to make, has only generated $7 million since it launched on January 23. Internationally, it's added only $11 million. Although Feltheimer attempted to explain the loss with purely financial facts, the real question on everyone's mind was, "Is Johnny Depp no longer a bankable actor?"

The writing has been on the wall since things began to turn for the actor after Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 2011. Up to that time, Depp had delivered Disney a series of successes in the PoTC franchise and in Alice in Wonderland ($334 million). Short of that, his critical success in 2009's Public Enemies remains one of his only since 2005's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory took in $206 million that year.

But that was long ago in moviegoers' minds, and his failures since then have started piling up. Here are his last five films domestically, according to Box Office Mojo: - 2015: Mortdecai $7m - 2014: Transcendence $23m - 2013: The Lone Ranger $89m - 2012: Dark Shadows $79m - 2011: The Rum Diary $13m

Whether investors feel Depp is any longer a bankable asset could depend entirely upon whether or not he can move out of his goofy persona films and back into serious dramas that won't put people to sleep like Transcendence. But it's also a question of interest and whether a studio has something they feel will work for him. These failures span several studios, including Buena Vista, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and others. Therefore, his troubles could be seen as a much larger problem that a studio could be hesitant to invest in, or at least make him the center of their project.

We won't have long to wait to see if the problem is ongoing: Depp will appear next during September in Warner Bros.’ untitled project about gangster Whitey Bulger.

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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