Johnny Depp’s beloved “The Rum Diary” is a flop, proving, once again, that the characters in a film and the story they tell, not marquee-name actors, sell a picture. Take note Robert Pattinson.
Depp, 48, is officially 0-2 at the box office for films based on the works of former gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
His 1998 film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” based on Thompson’s book by the same name, flopped miserably.
It earned 10.6 million domestically, well below its $18.5 million budget.
“The Rum Diary,” which cost around $50 million to make, earned just $5.1 million at the box office over its opening weekend, Depp’s weakest movie ever.
Producers were expecting at least $10 million from its opening weekend in 2,000 theaters in the U.S.
Depp’s last movie outside his “Pirates of the Caribbean” mega franchise was the 2010 romantic thriller “The Tourist,” with Angelina Jolie.
It was savaged by critics but redeemed itself by earning $278 million worldwide, mostly from overseas sales. It cost $100 million to make.
In Europe, star power apparently counts, and “The Tourist” had two of the biggest names in Hollywood.
In “The Rum Diary,” Depp plays journalist Paul Kemp, who flees the boredom of New York under the Eisenhower administration to write for The San Juan Star in Puerto Rico.
Between heavy bouts of drinking rum he falls for a woman named Chenault, played by Amber Heard.
Critics were so-so on the film. rottentomatoes reports that 51% of the critics gave it a positive rating.
“‘The Rum Diary’ has no mighty gonzo wind. Even with a push from its Thompson-worshipping star, Johnny Depp, it leaves our freak flag limp,” wrote New York magazine critic David Edelstein.
Producers were banking on Depp’s popularity to carry the film.
While Thompson is considered a ’60s icon, he’s been dead since 2005 and is likely unknown to a large bloc of younger movie goers.
The film was based on a novel that even Thompson didn’t like. He wrote it in 1961, and it remained unpublished until 1998. It was also set in the 1950s.
The movie finished the weekend fifth, behind the animated “Puss in Boots” at $34.1 million, “Paranormal Activity 3” at $18.1 million, “In Time” at $12.1 million and Footloose $5.5 million, according to rottentomatoes.
As for Pattinson, he’s always said his fans are in love with his character, “Twilight” vampire Edward Cullen, and not him. He just may be right.