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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Dark Shadows

‘Dark Shadows’: Has America fallen out of love with Johnny Depp?

May 14, 2012 |  7:45 am

Vampire movies are fading. Tim Burton has taken an odd left turn. “The Avengers” was going to be an unstoppable force no matter what opened against it.

There are no shortage of reasons why “Dark Shadows” sputtered at the box office this past weekend, grossing just $28.8 million. (To put it in context, it was Burton’s lowest total ever for a wide opener — even “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” took in nearly double that amount. Or as my colleague Amy Kaufman put it, chalking up the movie's failure at least partly to things Marvel, “‘Avengers’ sucked the life out of ‘Dark Shadows’ … [leaving] the vampire comedy looking pallid.”)

Certainly it was hard to ignore the halo effect of the Downey-fest on any weekend comer. But equally conspicuous was the sight of Johnny Depp in yet another domestic disappointment. Since overperforming in “Alice in Wonderland” more than two years ago, Depp has been involved in seemingly one misstep after another.

He signed on to an art-house actioner in “The Tourist,” which flopped at the U.S. box office and became known mostly for its cringe-worthy Golden Globe nomination for best musical or comedy. He followed that up with what appeared to be a reliable breadwinner in a fourth ”Pirates of the Caribbean” movie last summer — only to see it become the lowest-grossing domestic performer of the franchise.

A new Hunter S. Thompson stab, “The Rum Diary,” was a flop even by the author’s modest standards, tacking in just $13 million at home.

And now there’s "Dark Shadows," a dismal movie for reviewers — its 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes was 15 percentage points below “Transformers,” to give you an idea — and an equally bad performer by commercial standards. Even “Public Enemies” nearly matched its opening-weekend total.

But Depp isn’t completely faltering. International audiences seem to love him more than ever.  Though it flopped here, the most recent “Pirates” was the second-highest-grossing film of the franchise internationally. “The Tourist” was a downright smash overseas, tallying  $210 million, three times as much as it grossed at home.

“Dark Shadows” didn't blow international audiences away when it opened in more than three dozen markets this weekend. But with about $37 million, the remake of the campy American soap has tallied more abroad than it has here.

It may be premature to say that Depp is turning into a kind of Oscar-friendly Steven Seagal, a man more popular overseas than at home. But America certainly seems to have gotten over its obsession with Depp (who now of course spends a lot of time in Paris), an obsession that during his "Edward Scissorhands" / "Gilbert Grape" heyday made him either a box-office force or a teen pinup, or both. At 48, he's clearly making choices that international audiences are responding to a lot more than American ones.

Next up for Depp is “The Lone Ranger,” which hits theaters in May 2013. it will be the ultimate test of Depp's appeal. Few stories get more American than that. And Depp has never  seemed like less of a U.S. favorite.


 'Avengers' crossed $1 billion worldwide; Depp has soft debut

Dark Shadows is short on storytelling, not style, critics say

Is Tim Burton losing his touch?

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows." Credit: Warner Bros.

Box Office: 'Avengers' flies past $1 billion worldwide [Video]

May 14, 2012 |  5:00 am


"The Avengers" joined the elite $1-billion club this weekend, passing the massive box office milestone in just 19 days of worldwide release.

After setting the record for the biggest domestic opening ever, the superhero adventure had a massive second weekend, raking in $103.2 million. That raised the film's total in the U.S. and Canada to $373.2 million, and combined with the movie's $628.9 million international haul, the picture joined the ranks of 11 other films that have sold over $1 billion worth of tickets.

With so many moviegoers still interested in the likes of Thor and Captain America, there wasn't much attention paid to Johnny Depp and his "Dark Shadows." The Tim Burton-directed vampire comedy grossed a disappointing $28.8 million upon its debut, less than industry estimates had predicted heading into the weekend.

Why didn't more fans turn up to see Depp's latest flick? Check out this week's box office video report for more.


Exclusive: The only ‘Dark Shadows’ set visit

'Dark Shadows' premiere: Johnny Depp and crew keep it creepy

Box Office: 'Avengers' crosses $1B worldwide; Depp has soft debut

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Chris Hemsworth, left, stars with Scarlett Johansson in "The Avengers." Credit: Walt Disney Studios

'Dark Shadows' is short on storytelling, not style, critics say

May 11, 2012 |  3:30 pm


Dark Shadows
"Dark Shadows," Tim Burton's adaptation of the cult 1960s soap opera of the same name, features many of the director's trademarks, including a gothic setting, an offbeat sense of humor and Johnny Depp sinking his teeth into the lead role, this time as the temporally displaced vampire Barnabas Collins. Critics' reviews have been mixed, with an underlying current suggesting that one's appreciation of the film will depend on their taste for Burton's idiosyncrasies.

The Times' Kenneth Turan, who calls Burton's filmmaking style "very much an acquired taste," writes that "Dark Shadows" is "an uncertain combination of elements that unsuccessfully tries to be half-scary, half-funny and all strange." The production design, by Burton collaborator Rick Heinrichs, is "wonderful," and "Depp's performance is so unwavering in its commitment to eccentricity that it is hard not to be fitfully entertained." On the other hand, Turan says, the film is tripped up by Burton's "woeful lack of concern with story and drama."

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