Johnny Depp is the lead in the $3.7 billion "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. But as one of the world's biggest movie stars launches a sci-fi thriller over Easter weekend, three months shy of his 51st birthday, box-office experts observe an old cliché: "You're only as big as your last hit."
The $100 million "Transcendence" arrives in theaters on the heels of two expensive Depp films. The failure of last year's "The Lone Ranger" gave Disney a loss reportedly close to $190 million. And the vampire soap opera adaptation "Dark Shadows" made barely more than half its $150 million production budget domestically the year before. Critics panned both films, and "Transcendence" is faring even worse. The 19 percent Rotten Tomatoes score for "Transcendence" is dangerously close to Depp's worst-reviewed film ever, 1999's "The Astronaut's Wife," which sits on the critical aggregator website with a 16 percent score.
Neither "The Tourist" ($67 million) nor "The Rum Diary" ($13 million) were considered commercial hits either. "The Tourist" was also the butt of many jokes at the 2012 Golden Globes, after which Depp satirically got his "revenge" against Ricky Gervais in an episode of the mock reality series "Life's Too Short."
Industry prognosticators are putting "Transcendence" behind two-time champion "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and last weekend's runner-up, "Rio 2." Fox's animated sequel is expected to overtake Marvel's "first Avenger" after giving Cap a run for his money already. The difference is likely to be only a few million dollars. A few more-optimistic watchers, like EW.com, generously gave Depp's latest a shot at #2. But Box Office Mojo predicted it could even be beaten by "Heaven Is Real," the faith-based adaptation of the near-death experience account of the same name, which is expected to bow with about $16 million.
As "Rio 2," "Captain America" and "Transcendence" battle it out in the low- to mid-$20 million range, "A Haunted House 2" will likely take a distant fifth place. Incidentally, if Cap beats "Transcendence" as expected, it'll be a second Depp defeat at the hands of Chris Evans, as "The Avengers" beat "Dark Shadows" in 2012.
Captain America may have won the box office twice in a row, and "Man of Steel" Henry Cavill nabbed Best Hero at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards, but on May 2, a guy named Spider-Man swings back into domestic theaters. Audiences in Australia, Germany, Mexico, Spain and the U.K. are among the international markets who are getting the first look at "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (and presumably, that incongruent but awesome scene from "X-Men: Days of Future Past" mid-credits). Can't wait that long to see "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"? Dig into MTV News' exclusive revelations about Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.