Does ‘Lone Ranger’ Disaster Dump Johnny Depp From A-List?

Johnny Depp as Tonto
Johnny Depp as Tonto

Burning Question: One word about Johnny Depp's new Lone Ranger movie: Ouch! It totally bombed right? Is this the end of Johnny Depp's reign as king of Hollywood? — Zebra Man, Utah

If you're tired of Johnny Depp raking in tens of millions of dollars every time he puts on a funny hat, you're apparently not alone. Because, yeah, that movie bombed horribly. Like, "John Carter" horribly. As in, $48.9 million in its first five days. That may sound OK, until you realize that the Minions over at "Despicable Me 2" made off with an estimated $142.1 million during the same period. Hooray. New Minion goggles for everybody over there.

All that said, I have no doubt that more crazy hats await Depp, along with the subsequent flying stacks of cash that will pile up in his personal pirate cove, whether any of us are ready for that or not.

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"Johnny Depp, like Robert Downey Jr., has always been considered top tier talent in Tinseltown, but it was the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise that really catapulted him onto the A-list," says Exhibitor Relations box office analyst Jeff Bock, noting that, before that deal, "Sleepy Hollow" was his only $100-million-plus hit.

"Depp is a star as well as a rare talent, so there is no doubt he can sustain a few misfires," Bock insists. "In fact, his career is littered with them."

You only need to go back a year ago, when Depp bombed us with "Dark Shadows" or 2010's "The Tourist." But while they tanked domestically ($80 million and $70 million, respectively), those films performed much better overseas, where Depp is more bulletproof. However, many pundits point out that "The Lone Ranger," being a piece of peculiarly American mythology, is a tougher sell to foreign audiences.

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"And before anyone writes him off, remember," says Bock, "he'll be donning Jack Sparrow duds again for 'Pirates 5,' it will gross a billion dollars, and everyone will forget about that dead crow on his head."

Yes, really. Forgot about that little detail, did we? "Pirates 5" is coming in 2015. It's already in pre-production. Yo-ho and all that.

Producers also agree that Depp is far from done.

"Any producer would kill to have Johnny Depp in any movie," says Edward Bass, producer of 2006 biopic "Bobby" and the 2012 Jessica Chastain film "Tar."

"There's nothing he doesn't do great," Bass says of Depp. "He has the ability to be a movie star on one side and still be an artist on the other, and that's what makes him different."

And in a flop like "The Lone Ranger," the last person that a producer would blame is Depp.

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"A lot goes into a film — a script, director, marketing and the mood of the public," Bass notes. "Not everything is in the hands of the actor."

Well, maybe some things are. As Box Office Mojo analyst Ray Subers put it in his write-up yesterday, "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."

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